Thursday, 14 June 2012 7:16 AM
John Hunt discovers another Travebite hotel ‘hot spot’ - Radisson Blu Royal Brussels
The centre of the Belgian capital is compact and the Radisson Blu Royal Brussels ticks the important ‘location’ box by being bang in the middle of town with the famous Grand Place (pictured below) just a few minutes’ walk away.
For those attractions which require the use of public transport – or indeed if you’re arriving in Brussels at the airport or the main train station – then De Brouckere Metro station is very close by.
The hotel is built around an enormous glass-topped atrium, with half the rooms looking inward to this space, and those on the outer wall looking onto the city. It’s airy, expansive, and the ideal place for the hotel’s main restaurant – ‘Atrium’ – which sits under the glass roof with a little indoor stream and sunken fish pond to one side.
Our ‘business class’ room on the fourth floor was a decent size, and soberly decorated in darker colours. In the bathroom, we found a great walk-in ‘rain’ shower, and in the main room, a wall-mounted flat-screen TV with a good selection of international channels, very comfortable bed and a work desk. WiFi was free, but not particularly fast (c. 2mb).
Back down in the lobby there’s a small bar, Dessiné. A 40cl Stella Artois costs about £3.50, and this includes as many crisps as you can eat.
Atrium was our venue for dinner – almost faultless. Warm bread and butter – replenished twice without asking – did the trick while we made our selections. I also – until my other half commanded me to desist – pinged a few bits of the bread into the fish pond, which drove my aquatic friends mental.
We both had sautéed white asparagus spears with a ‘crushed egg’ topping to start. For mains, she had the fillet of sea bass with quinoa and I had the ‘Royal Cheeseburger’ with guacamole and Flemish-style fries. For dessert, she had a raspberry and vanilla cheesecake and I had a creamy zabaglione. All six courses were superb – fresh, perfectly cooked and flavoursome.
Also worthy of note was the service – attentive but not ‘in your face’ – and well-timed throughout the meal. The only gripe here was the wine – a £22 bottle of white that was very cold but also ordinary. All in, the six courses and the wine came in at £88, but the quality reflected the price.
The hotel also boasts a two -Michelin-starred seafood restaurant called Sea Grill. Oddly, this is not open at the weekends, but the GM told me that this is not unusual in Belgium. It’s something to do with EU working hours’ directives, apparently. Maybe next time…
On the top floor there is a fitness club which remained unexplored as we took our exercise on the Brussels streets and, on the sixth floor landing, a ‘business lounge’ which was less a lounge and more an open plan area with a couple of PCs, newspapers, coffee and tea-making facilities, a TV and – best of all – a fridge with free and unlimited soft drinks. Again, the speed of the computers wasn’t great, but in an alcove off the lobby there were another two machines running superfast internet at 100mbps, and a free printer. Business services are also available for a price.
Breakfast was top notch, a buffet affair with a very extensive choice of hot and cold items and – my favourite – the manned ‘cooking station’ for omelettes and suchlike. If there was one complaint here, it was that on both weekend mornings the place was very busy which made trips back and forth to get one’s sustenance a little fraught than it might have been. Popularity can rarely be seen as a drawback, however, and overall, this hotel lived up to its five-star billing.
Food, beverage, amenities and service all near the top of their respective games, and this made for a great overall stay.
By John Hunt
A double room with breakfast starts from £140/night at the weekend, and from £222/night during the week. For more information visit the Radisson Blu Royal Brussels website.
Brussels is an easy reach with BMI, British Airways, Brussels Airlines and Flybe all flying into Brussels Airport from the UK.
Eurostar from St Pancras is also an option. We also travelled by train, from Amsterdam, with pan-European operator Thalys which took two hours. The modern rolling stock makes for a smooth journey and there’s free satellite-driven WiFi on board for all ticket classes apart from the cheapest ‘no flex’ fare which, to be fair, starts at just £23 one way. Comfort 1 (first class) starts at £40 one way. You can fly from Amsterdam to Brussels, but having done both, this is less hassle, and actually quicker centre to centre.
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