Up until May 2021 all bars and restaurants where still closed due to coronavirus countermeasures. The only exception to enjoy a nice dining experience was to visit a hotel that offered a sleep and dine offer. The Hotel. in Brussels offered a nice sleep and dine arrangement in which they teamed up with a different top restaurant in Brussels to cater the dinner. Of course I was anxious to try it out so we booked one of the last weekend they organised one in May.
The Hotel. used to be the Hilton hotel in Brussels up until a few years ago it was taken over by a Swedish group, renovated and rebranded under its own branding. It is famous for hosting former US president Barack Obama during his visit in Brussels. It is located along the Waterloo Avenue which is part of the small ring around Brussels just next to the crossroads with the upmarket Louise Avenue. Just around the corner you have the palace of justice, the Royal Palace and the Belgian Parliament. The city centre with the Grand Place and Manneken Pis is also just a short walk away.
Our sleep and dine offer included free parking in the hotel’s parking garage, so we exceptionally drove to Brussels by car. The hotel’s parking garage clearly shows the hotels 1960’s heritage with small narrow driveways and parking spots. To get to the lobby you have to press a call button next to the door to the elevator so it can get opened from the reception before you are able to enter the hallway leading to the elevator, which is a bit cumbersome.
At the reception we had a short wait before we were swiftly checked-in to our room on the 18th floor. Our room had a wonderful view over the north side of Brussels, including the Royal Palace and the Parliament.
For a hotel considered one of the best in Belgium the rooms where tiny. Despite the small size they were cleverly designed and all space used optimally. The big bed was very comfortable and provided with a good night’s sleep. There was a very comfortable sofa in front of the window, perfect to stretch out and relax. There was however a constant draught at the window side which made it somewhat less comfortable.
Next to the bed there was a connection point for all sorts of power and multimedia connections, which could connect to the in-room tv. The minibar was also included in the price of the package we booked, however the contents was really poor. Tea and coffee facilities where available through the use of a Nespresso machine.
The bathroom was a completely open affair, with just a small sliding mirror in between the room and the bathroom. The toilet or shower could be closed off by a frosted glass swing door. The shower was delightful with instant hot water and good water pressure, just very loud when standing in it.
What was disappointing for a hotel of this reputation was the lack of toiletries and amenities in the room. There were just some very large multi-use containers for soap in the bathroom and next to the sink. And except for two packets of pre-packaged tissues there was nothing else besides the towels. No sewing kit or shower cap or any other small items you would usually find in a hotel bathroom. Especially the lack of individual toiletries in a hotel that aims to be a top-hotel is a big no-no in my opinion, clearly the more mid-market Van Der Valk outperforms The Hotel here.
In the evening the dinner was served on the 21st floor, where they converted a number of rooms into a temporary restaurant. The beds were removed and replaced by a table for two persons. This was all done very tastefully, only the seating comfort of the chairs could have been better. The service started off with an aperitif in the sofa before continuing with a 4-course meal at the table.
Matching wines and water where included in the rate. The meal was delicious, only the main course could have been bigger as it was really small and did not quite fill the stomach. The service was impeccable and having a different room to have your dinner really made it feel more like a genuine restaurant experience again.
In the morning breakfast could be collected from the buffet in the restaurant but had to be eaten in the room. To avoid crowding you were asked to select a time to eat breakfast in the morning at check-in. the buffet itself was arranged very corona-proof with everything packed into small containers or bags, ready to grab and put on your tray. Hot food items where offered from a served buffet where you could pick what you wanted and put it in a container for transport to your room.
All in all we had a satisfactory stay, yet we did feel that The Hotel. did not quite live up to its expectation and fame. The rooms also started to show signs of wear and tear and aging. The staff however was all very professional and friendly and most important made an effort to speak Dutch which is better than I experienced at the Brussels Pullman before.