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I am completely lost as far as good hotel area in Brussels

I am completely lost as far as good hotel area in Brussels

Old May 17th, 2024, 08:41 AM
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I am completely lost as far as good hotel area in Brussels

I will be ending my 2+ week trip in Brussels and have a 1.5 day and 2 night stay there in the middle of June. I've been doing some reading on the city but still can't figure out where I should stay because I am having a difficult time getting a handle on the city. Other than the Grand Place with the galeries and strolling around to observe Art Nouveau architecture and visiting the art museum, I don't really have any plans. I am happy just wandering through interesting neighborhoods that don't even have any true tourist sights. I am not a shopper.

I am an old solo female, so I want a safe area. I won't be out wandering the streets in the middle of the night because I am too old for that. I want convenient and walkable but not super noisy from bars blasting music or revelers out carousing or noisy trams. Although I hate to eliminate the more quaint and charming places (what I really prefer) due to lack of AC, I have decided that AC is a must. I don't need or want super fancy hotels with all of their amenities. A low key apartment or guest house is fine. It's not a must, and practicality often wins out, but I'd prefer something that doesn't look and feel like every other standard business hotel in the world. Although I could spend more, I'd prefer to not spend more than 250E per night.

I will be arriving by train from Bruges and will be flying out of BRU, so I want to be somewhere that is relatively easy to get to public transportation for these places. I can easily walk a half mile with my suitcase from a station, but it's not a first choice. A cab is ok, but if there is public transportation to the airport, it is my first choice.

Not surprisingly, since I am looking for a month from now, many places are already booked. Someone on a previous thread mentioned the Floris Arlequin, but that is fully booked. From my quick initial search on booking.com and not too much time spent scrutinizing since I really don't know what areas to home in on, here is what I have come up with. After some advice from all of you, I can further narrow down my search.

A. Hotel Fleur de Ville which is about .5 k NE from the Grand Place. Gut level from the photos and price it's my first choice. BUT, this must be a brand new hotel because there are absolutely no reviews of it anywhere. And, I know nothing about the location. https://www.booking.com/hotel/be/fleur-de-ville.html

B. NH Grand Sablon. This one is in a completely different area--Sablon, close to 1k SE of the Grand Place--and has definitely more of a standard hotel feel to it. https://www.booking.com/hotel/be/grandsablon.html

C. Maison Ayra is in yet a different area. This one is about 1 k north and slightly west of the Grand Place. https://www.booking.com/hotel/be/mai...les.en-us.html

D. Stanhope Hotel by Thon This one is some place completely different from the others and almost 2 k SE from the Grand Place. https://www.booking.com/hotel/be/stanhope.en-us.html

E. The Hoxton which is on the northern edge of the Botanical Garden and about 1.5 k NE of the Grand Place. https://www.booking.com/hotel/be/the...els.en-us.html

So, I have choices all over the central area of Brussels. Taking into account what I said I am looking for, which area/s do you suggest as best for me. Thanks so much.
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Old May 17th, 2024, 09:08 AM
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Julies--You are right--Hotel Fleur de Ville IS a new hotel. Check that out here. And they are offering preview rates. I'd jump on this one. That location is great. It's not the quiet, cute neighborhood that you wanted, but still, you can get anywhere you want from there.

I know you are worried about tourists and noise--I'm a noise freak and an operating-room cleanliness of bathroom freak. So this is how I'm looking at it: I might be able to get an untouched bathroom!

Wishing you the best,
AZ
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Old May 17th, 2024, 11:38 AM
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AZ--I don't know how you found that link; I too did a search but never ran across that. Thanks!

Good to hear that it's in a convenient neighborhood, but now I am taking pause since I just looked at it on Google street maps. It really is in the middle of a typical concrete downtown. So, I am back to thinking and weighing m y priorities rather than jumping immediately.

Looking at Google street maps it seems as though if I want a more charming neighborhood I would go with the B. Grand Sablon or C. Maison Ayra areas maybe. And, are there other areas that I haven't yet discovered?

If I would just like to walk through some more charming neighborhoods rather than typical generic big city neighborhoods, are any of my choices more appropriate than others?
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Old May 17th, 2024, 03:02 PM
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All of your choices are fairly urban. I will keep thinking about what might be a more charming neighbourhood for you. Fleur de Ville is well-located for tourism purposes. There is an upscale food court called Wolf in the same street and you are near most of the attractions. I think you could probably like the Comics Museum, which is very close by. If your budget will stretch to it there is a hotel nearby called the Dominican which is a cut above. The NH Grand Sablon is in a very nice area and gets a good rap here on Fodors (the poster is Weisser Tee). This would be my choice. The area Place du Grand Sablon has a few high-end chocolate shops at one end and some antique shops, and there is an antiques market there on Saturdays and Sundays. You are close to Au Vieux Saint Martin and Skievelat restaurants, and the café La Fabrique en Ville, which is at Place du Petit Sablon / Parc Egmont. Nearby is also the pretty street Rue du Rollebeek. I think this is a good balance of elegant / convenient to the centre. It is very unlikely ever to be noisy or crowded. You are also walking distance to the Royal Museums of Fine Arts. Maison Ayra is in Ste.-Catherine and within a few steps you have many restaurants and bars. I don't know the exact streets but I think in that location you might be a little away from that. That's one for Google Street View, I'm afraid. The Stanhope would be very quiet. The area is starting to be European Quarter and you will not have many restaurants or people there. To visit the centre you would go to Trône/ Troon metro. You might find that if you are there on the weekend the rates are a bit cheaper as visitors to the European district go home for the weekend. It would be a safe area but a bit boring. And lastly the Hoxton - I would avoid this area at all costs. It might seem convenient but Botanique / St. Josse are unsafe, even if the hotel is spectacular. I don't like anything north of the 'pentagon'.

If you can't find anything in your choices above, you might also consider something in the Chatelain neighbourhood. It is just off Ave Louise (some people will call this the Louise district). We personally always stay in Louise but it (including the Chatelain area / Rue du Bailli) will be less convenient for most tourism purposes. The Place du Chatelain has a nice street market on Wed afternoons / evenings and is surrounded by chic restaurants. It would put you in a good location if you wanted to see the Horta Museum, which is IMO the pinnacle of Art Nouveau in Brussels (if you like art and design you should definitely see this). But you would have to learn the tram and metro system to get around (trams 8 and 92/93 go down Ave Louise, where there is the Louise metro).

So, positives and negatives. Hope that helps you make a decision!

Lavandula

Last edited by lavandula; May 17th, 2024 at 03:13 PM.
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Old May 18th, 2024, 12:13 AM
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OK, another thought for you - if you don't mind taking the metro into town, the neighbourhood Square Ambiorix might be a little interesting for you. The whole neighbourhood is residential but there are a few Art Nouveau gems there (Maison Saint-Cyr, Hôtel van Eetvelde), and a few restaurants and an Irish pub on Rue Archimède. There is a chain hotel there, B-aparthotel Ambiorix, which is nice but not to the same standard as the other hotels you have picked. But the neighbourhood is nice and would repay a good walk, and there is also a small park. It is just outside the European Quarter and the nearest metro is Schuman, which is decidedly inside the European Quarter. Check it out, anyway, no harm in looking.

Lavandula

Last edited by lavandula; May 18th, 2024 at 12:15 AM.
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Old May 18th, 2024, 04:20 AM
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Both Fleur de Ville and Grand Sablon are very centrally located. 10 min. walk from Grand Place and from Central Station where you can easily take the train to the airport (5 or 6 direct trains per hour).
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Old May 18th, 2024, 07:38 PM
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You might take a look at X2Brussels, a lovely b&b. Not far from train station but in a more pleasant area. Walkable but I would take a taxi when you arrive.
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Old May 19th, 2024, 08:03 AM
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Well, I just discovered I posted a reply 12 hours ago that completely disappeared into cyberspace. I guess I will try again.

Thanks to your replies, I have eliminated the E. Hoxton and D. Stanhope.

annw, unfortunately the X2 Hotel has a 5 night minimum stay.

Looking for mid-June, many, many places are already fully booked. And, I will be there during the week rather than over a weekend. Plus, if at all possible, but not an absolute necessity, I prefer lodging that will stand out in my memory rather than just being one more generic hotel room.

I now have a bit of a better understanding of certain areas I should be targeting. But, looking at my visit and the fact that I will truly only have one day in Brussels when I won't be coming or going, I am starting to think that perhaps my primary focus should be on easy accessibility to the train station rather than my desire for a certain type of neighborhood setting. My last day I will be flying from BRU to AMS and then back to the US; that's the connection I want to make sure I can easily do (I think just taking the train from Central to the airport is my best solution) .

I am still considering the Fleur de Ville and the Grand Sablon but am now also looking at these two hotels and area.

F. The Dominican which was mentioned by Lavandula and is quite close to the Fleur de Ville. I would take their cheapest room. https://www.booking.com/hotel/be/the...can.en-us.html

G. Le Dixseptieme which is only about 2 blocks from the central train station so I would have guessed crazy, noisy. Yet, the reviews all say it's quiet. https://www.booking.com/hotel/be/led...eme.en-us.html

Right now the things am interested in doing are the Grand Place and galeries area (although some things I have read say this is really a one and done area rather than needing to be lodged close to it), the lace museum, the Beaux Artes museum, the musical instrument museum (mostly for the building it is in), the Horta museum, maybe a few churches, and maybe visiting the Africa Museum out of Brussels central area.

So, are there any of these hotel locations that really stand out and would allow me to easily visit the places I have listed as of interest plus have good access to Central? Of course, the ultimate find would be a location for a lovely neighborhood feel for just walking around combined with easy access to the train station? Or, is it six of one half a dozen of the other as far as what I have listed as lodging choices? Frankly, as the years have gone by and I get older I have come to realize that my lodging is more important than I used to think it was in the past.

In advance, thanks for the assistance.

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Old May 19th, 2024, 09:00 AM
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Is your return flight from BRU booked? Why not take the train and stay near AMS again?
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Old May 19th, 2024, 09:18 AM
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Yes, return flight is booked.
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Old May 19th, 2024, 09:22 AM
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Shame. It is a flight which should be banned. The train is faster and easer and less polluting. BRU is a horrible airport in my experience as well.

Ah well it is was it is, I hope you find somewhere that suits you, and after all the worry and planning you get great weather and get to enjoy your bike ride.
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Old May 19th, 2024, 09:37 AM
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The airport in BRU is really that bad?

Frankly, I was surprised that the airline ticket price was about the same flying US to AMS and then BRU back to the US as it would have been just doing a roundtrip out of AMS. I just figured this would be easier for me, and cheaper than buying the additional train ticket from Brussels back to the AMS airport.

Plus, I have been reading that recently the AMS airport is a mess for check in again, so I was thinking that I will have already checked in and dropped my suitcase in BRU, so maybe that will make things easier in AMS. I know I will still have to go through passport control at AMS and another security screening.
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Old May 19th, 2024, 01:41 PM
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Originally Posted by julies
Well, I just discovered I posted a reply 12 hours ago that completely disappeared into cyberspace. I guess I will try again.

Thanks to your replies, I have eliminated the E. Hoxton and D. Stanhope.

annw, unfortunately the X2 Hotel has a 5 night minimum stay.

Looking for mid-June, many, many places are already fully booked. And, I will be there during the week rather than over a weekend. Plus, if at all possible, but not an absolute necessity, I prefer lodging that will stand out in my memory rather than just being one more generic hotel room.

I now have a bit of a better understanding of certain areas I should be targeting. But, looking at my visit and the fact that I will truly only have one day in Brussels when I won't be coming or going, I am starting to think that perhaps my primary focus should be on easy accessibility to the train station rather than my desire for a certain type of neighborhood setting. My last day I will be flying from BRU to AMS and then back to the US; that's the connection I want to make sure I can easily do (I think just taking the train from Central to the airport is my best solution) .

I am still considering the Fleur de Ville and the Grand Sablon but am now also looking at these two hotels and area.

F. The Dominican which was mentioned by Lavandula and is quite close to the Fleur de Ville. I would take their cheapest room. https://www.booking.com/hotel/be/the...can.en-us.html

G. Le Dixseptieme which is only about 2 blocks from the central train station so I would have guessed crazy, noisy. Yet, the reviews all say it's quiet. https://www.booking.com/hotel/be/led...eme.en-us.html

Right now the things am interested in doing are the Grand Place and galeries area (although some things I have read say this is really a one and done area rather than needing to be lodged close to it), the lace museum, the Beaux Artes museum, the musical instrument museum (mostly for the building it is in), the Horta museum, maybe a few churches, and maybe visiting the Africa Museum out of Brussels central area.

So, are there any of these hotel locations that really stand out and would allow me to easily visit the places I have listed as of interest plus have good access to Central? Of course, the ultimate find would be a location for a lovely neighborhood feel for just walking around combined with easy access to the train station? Or, is it six of one half a dozen of the other as far as what I have listed as lodging choices? Frankly, as the years have gone by and I get older I have come to realize that my lodging is more important than I used to think it was in the past.

In advance, thanks for the assistance.
I stayed at the Dominican several years ago. It was quiet and comfortable, but still just steps from everything.
For a couple of nights I wouldn’t go too far.
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Old May 19th, 2024, 02:33 PM
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I like your final choices for hotels. All would be OK in my book. I see that Le Dixseptième is close to both Central Station and the lace museum and maybe I would go for that (pretty interior). The Fleur de Ville and the Dominican are a little further away and maybe a bit less convenient. But I would be comfortable picking any of those four, all have pretty easy access to the Grand' Place. The NH Sablon is near to Notre Dame des Victoires church, the Royal Museum of Fine Arts (Beaux-Arts), and not that far a walk from the MIM. So that also has something going for it.

>>Right now the things am interested in doing are the Grand Place and galeries area (although some things I have read say this is really a one and done area rather than needing to be lodged close to it), the lace museum, the Beaux Artes museum, the musical instrument museum (mostly for the building it is in), the Horta museum, maybe a few churches, and maybe visiting the Africa Museum out of Brussels central area.<<

If you only have a day, you have a long wish list of sights. St Michel and Ste Gudule is probably closest to your Fleur de Ville. It's an imposing cathedral, all white stone, worth seeing, but a walk from your other hotels. The MIM is great - there is a rooftop restaurant with views and Belgian food, and the museum itself is excellent. Horta and especially the Africa museum are quite a way out and you would need to budget at least long half-days for those, which would knock out the others. I would perhaps think about a taxi to Horta, although you can get there by tram (8, 93 - this last one you can catch almost from the NH) and a bit of a walk. The Africa Museum is tram 44 from Montgomery, quite a long ride but very pretty. Try to avoid getting off at Mérode metro (the stop before Montgomery on the metro, closest to the city), it's a recent drug hotspot and now unsafe. The rest of the line is OK. The Royal Museum of Fine Arts is also a world-class set of museums/galleries. I have been to Magritte (excellent) and the Old Masters is on my bucket list. Maybe you could fit in Notre Dame, a gallery and the MIM all on the one day, I think that would be doable.

Good luck!!

Lavandula

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Old May 20th, 2024, 12:25 AM
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The NH Grand Sablon is close to everything, except to the Horta Museum.
Fleur de Ville and The Dominican are abt. 1.5 km north of NH Grand Sablon, and thus further from the museums
Le Dixseptième is in between Fleur de Ville and NH Grand Sablon but I would skip that one for its neighbourhood.
You can easily see on google maps what is where.
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Old May 20th, 2024, 10:06 AM
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Chill...you've made some super decisions.

About BRU, no matter what anyone says. Flight-Report says passengers give it a 7.8/10, about the same as AMS. You'll just arrive early, right?
Side note: My migraine-headache airports are PHL and VCE--I always have to remind myself that travel, as opposed to merely "vacations", requires smarts. My job as a traveler is to be super smart in those particular airports and also to not let any mishaps ruin my day or my trip.

Brussels Neighborhood: While I do understand your desire for a cute "hood" in Brussels, for your length of stay, it's not going to matter. A good front desk/concierge desk will head you in the right direction pronto. That's how we had two GREAT meals in tiny restaurants on cute streets in Belgium, even though we were staying at the very corporate (but darn well situated for our needs) Marriott Grand Place.

Your list: Too long? Nah. I get it--I've read your prior comments. You've been around the block. All travel starts with wishlists, and then we just do what we do when we do it.

Grand Place: While we loved leaving through it and returning through it on our day trips throughout Belgium, we spent very little time there. Access to it as a means to get to the airport is certainly a plus, but being a spit from it isn't key to your trip enjoyment at all.

Cheerleading from the side,
AZ
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Old May 21st, 2024, 08:41 PM
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Well, I finally booked a room at Le Dixseptieme (and it was cheaper booking directly rather than through booking.com). Charm, smaller family run, and convenience won out over staying at a corporate hotel (Grand Sablon). Plus this sentence from a positive review for Le Dixseptieme pushed it to the forefront for me. "As solo female senior traveler l appreciated how close it was to Central Train Station." If anyone is reading this in the future while researching Brussels hotels, some reviews of the Grand Sablon mentioned walking uphill from the train station and over cobblestones while dragging a suitcase. While I certainly could take a cab there from the station, I prefer to just be closer even if the Grand Sablon is in a lovely, upscale neighborhood.

And, I truly will have closer to 2 days to explore Brussels. My bike/barge trip ends at 9:00 am in Bruges, meaning we have to be off the boat by then. So, unless I truly love Bruges so much that I decide to spend the day there, I anticipate being in Brussels before 11 am.

All of your expertise helped me a lot in making this decision.
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Old May 22nd, 2024, 12:26 AM
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Hi julies, I think you will be happy with your choice. However, Brussels is built on the side of a hill ('Lower Town' and 'Upper Town'). There is a gentle uphill on the way to Central, and there is also a lift to take you up to Place Poelaert, where you can access the Upper Town. I don't think you will be affected too much staying in Le Dixseptième, but if you want to go to Place du Grand Sablon, the Royal Museum of Fine Arts or the MIM you will be affected to some degree. But of course you don't have to drag your bag uphill, or at least not too far. If you don't want to engage with the hill, there is lots to see and do in the Lower Town. It doesn't seem to worry most people too much.

Lavandula
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Old May 22nd, 2024, 05:46 AM
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I am fine with hill walking and will definitely go all over the central Brussels area. Dragging a suitcase up a hill on the cobblestones didn't particularly appeal to me however, but during my stay I will definitely walk over and visit the Grand Sablon area. And, honestly, for me I just gut level felt the appeal of Le Dixetieme's building/ambience vs being in yet another standard chain hotel. Some people much prefer the very predictable standards and amenities of a chain hotel versus people like me who prefer quaintness and quirkiness and charm. We're all different. Fodor's, Rick Steves and Lonely Planet all recommend Le Dixetieme as a good place to stay; I can report back after my trip.
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Old May 22nd, 2024, 01:53 PM
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All good, it was just in the spirit of full disclosure. I am sure you will have a wonderful time. Have a great trip!

Lavandula
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