CHECKING INTO THE STANHOPE HOTEL BRUSSELS
If you saw my last blog post then you know we have just returned from a trip to Europe that took us to 6 countries. First stop on the itinerary: Brussels, Belgium.
Brussels has been the de facto capital of Europe for decades. This cosmopolitan city is one of the 3 homes to the European Union, its Houses of Parliament and offices of the 751 members of the European Parliament from 28 Member States.
As a result of the multicultural influences that abound in Brussels, the city is full of sophisticated hotels, restaurants, museums and shops.
Unfortunately for us, Brussels was little more than a place to lay our heads after the long flight from Los Angeles. We had only 24 hours to spend in the city before heading off to our first real destination: Brugge, Belgium.
Checking into the Stanhope Hotel Brussels (located in downtown Brussels and not far from the airport) would give us an opportunity to rest up before venturing further afar. After nearly a day in transit we arrived tired and travel weary.
But I always approach travel planning from the perspective that I might never return to that destination again. Therefore, I don’t want to waste even a single night in a poor hotel, eat in a less than agreeable restaurant, or miss an important point of interest. So, I do lots and lots of research before I leave home in an effort to leave nothing to chance. Besides, I enjoy the planning almost as much as the travel. So, since we were only going to spend 1 night in Brussels, I wanted it to be a good one. I pour over lots of resources when looking for hotels. Some of my favorite travel websites are Travel & Leisure, Condé Nast Traveler, Jetsetter, Tablet, and to a lesser extent, TripAdvisor. I find I don’t trust the perspective of the “average” traveler, which is what TripAdvisor is, an averaging out of the ratings travelers give to a hotel property. What ends up happening on TripAdvisor is a hotel ranked #1 by say, Conde Nast, might be #20 on TripAdvisor. In the case of the Stanhope Hotel, TripAdvisor ranks it #35 out of 197 hotels in Brussels. If you look at the 34 hotels ranked higher than the Stanhope, most of them can’t hold a candle to it in my opinion. So, I take TripAdvisor advice with a grain of salt, which then makes my hotel search even harder. That said, we ended up being quite pleased with our experience at the Stanhope, and I think you’ll see why when you view my photos.
We had rented a car at the Brussels airport and drove ourselves to the hotel using the GPS in our cute Mini Cooper rental. It is worth it to pay extra for GPS when renting a car outside your cell phone’s coverage area, because to roam will cost you a fortune in cell phone fees. Upon arrival at the hotel we were directed to park in a small underground garage below the hotel. They did not charge us for parking. An elevator took us to the colorful lobby where we checked in.
I’m not sure I would have selected this color scheme had I been their Interior Designer, but I must admit it was cheerful and flooded with light from overhead skylights and large windows that opened onto a lovely courtyard.
The Stanhope Hotel Brussels is part of the Thon Hotel Group. I booked our room directly through their website at www.thonhotels.com. We paid 264 Euros for a Suite that included a full breakfast. The rate required prepayment in full and was fully refundable within 24 hours of booking. After that the booking was non-refundable and could not be changed.
In 1991, the Stanhope Hotel was inaugurated as the first 5-Star hotel in Belgium.
Since then it has undergone a recent renovation. The boutique hotel is housed in a collection of turn-of-the-century Brussels residences that were converted into 125 hotel rooms.
At one end of the lobby was a complimentary Coffee & Tea station which, although we never availed ourselves of it, I thought it was a nice gesture.
Adjacent to the elevator was a tray of fruit ripe for the taking, another thoughtful little amenity.
We were given a 4th floor suite in a recently renovated section of the hotel known as “The House of Queens”. Ours was room number 463, and was a corner room at the very end of a long hallway.
The door opened into another hallway that contained 2 large closets. Check out the wide-plank hardwood floors. I loved them!
One closet housed the mini bar and safe.
I thought the room was very tastefully decorated in a neutral color scheme of taupes, grays and metallics. I would call it a “handsome” room.
Our corner room had 2 small balconies behind the curtains you see in the photo below.
This was the view from our room. The hotel is located on a quiet side street that was convenient to a major avenue with lots of clean, safe and efficient public transportation just at the end of the block.
Both the bed and the bedding was very comfortable, affording us a good night’s sleep on our first night in Europe. We did order up 2 extra pillows, however.
I particularly liked the silver metallic Bombay-style chest that was used as a nightstand.
A complimentary bowl of fresh fruit and a bottle of mineral water was sent to the room along with a welcome note from the manager.
Around the corner from the bed was a small vestibule with a pant pressing machine and doors that opened onto a second small balcony.
The bathroom was very spacious and sparkling clean. It featured heated floors and a heated towel rack, 2 things that added to our comfort on a cold winter night in November. Many luxury hotels in Europe feature heated towel racks. I love them and I’ll tell you why. While it’s awfully nice to dry off with a heated towel, it’s also a great way to quickly dry your hand washing. I always travel with a small container of laundry soap so that I can hand wash my undergarments on the road. I love it when I can quick dry them on a heated towel bar.
Now, let’s go back downstairs. I want to show you the Library Bar where Brad enjoyed his first glass of delicious Belgian Beer on the trip.
Then there was this lovely private reading room with pretty blue and white china plates on the wall.
I also appreciated the lovely flower arrangements that were in abundance all around the property.
After a good night’s sleep we made our way to the very pretty breakfast room where a wonderful full breakfast buffet awaited us.
I loved that they had a self service coffee machine where I prepared myself the obligatory Cafe Latte. And, since we were in Belgium after all, the Belgium waffle machine was a welcome addition.
There was a juice bar, fresh and dried fruit, a variety of cereals, boiled eggs…
yogurt, cheeses and sliced meats…
smoked salmon with all the accoutrements…
and a variety of breads, croissants and sweet rolls.
After breakfast we took a quick stroll around the pretty garden courtyard before heading off to explore Brussels for a day.
Stay tuned and in my next post I’ll take you on a quick trip around Brussels. The amazing Grand Place, Brussels’ iconic main city square, simply took my breath away.
So, would I stay in this hotel again? YES!
WHAT I LIKED ABOUT THIS HOTEL: It was quiet, clean, tastefully decorated, and was well situated for exploring the city. The free parking was an unexpected bonus and the breakfast buffet was outstanding.
WHAT I WOULD CHANGE: The quality and selection of the room service food was poor. My husband got a dry, overcooked pizza that he couldn’t eat. They graciously took it off the tab. When we couldn’t figure out how to turn the lights on in the room we called down to the front desk for help. Instead of telling us to simply put our room key into an apparatus at the front door, they sent an engineer to the room to help us. We sat in the dark for an hour waiting for him to show up.
So there you have it: CHECKING INTO THE STANHOPE HOTEL BRUSSELS
Rue du Commerce 9
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