a few weeks ago i was invited to visit brussels by accorhotels, and experience the vibrant, dynamic character of a city keen to shake off the negative stigma it has acquired following the paris shootings late last year, and show its true face as a thriving cosmopolitan european capital.
having lived in london all my life i’m not one to scare easily, so i jumped at the chance to visit a city i’ve only ever visited once before – briefly – for a friend’s wedding, but have heard many wonderful things about from my numerous belgian pals.
i had chosen sofitel brussels le louise for my stay, a luxury hotel in the exclusive avenue louise area of the city, designed by architect antoine pinto. the interior is heavily influenced by belgian surrealist artist rené magritte, with long hallways of optical illusion carpets and guest beds adorned with those iconic face cushions by fornasetti. in fact, it was the bed that made me choose a sofitel for my stay, although not my love of lina cavalieri’s face, as pretty as it is. no, i was most excited for a blissful night on sofitel’s exclusive mybed™ system, having experienced wonderful nights of sleep before at their hotels in paris, munich and casablanca.
my bestie and i had planned a long weekend break in which to enjoy the charms of the belgian capital but sadly our early morning eurostar was hit by delays – 6 whole hours of them spent standing outside brussels waiting for our train to be fixed after we hit something on the tracks. so having been scheduled to arrive in time for a leisurely brunch we didn’t end up checking in to the hotel until just after 5pm, making the glass of bubbly offered to us on arrival very welcome indeed!
thankfully the moment we saw our room all the frustrations of the day melted away and it was all too tempting to indulge in a long hot rainfall shower, lay back to relax on the giant marshmallow of a mybed™ and order dinner to the room.
instead, we decided to quickly change and head out to explore our immediate surroundings, taking in the beautiful sunset and make the most of the last few rain-free moments of the weekend for, alas, the one sunny day of the trip we’d spent waiting patiently on the train in the belgian countryside.
our early evening saunter took us past the palais de bruxelles, musée magritte and musée des instruments de musique, and down to the jardin du mont des arts, before making our way back through the grand sablon, where we spotted numerous antique shops, fashionable boutiques, pastry shops and chocolatiers we vowed the visit over the next few days.
back at the hotel we settled ourselves in the crystal lounge for the night, enjoying a few expertly crafted cocktails while key largo inexplicably played on-a-loop on a large screen, before sitting down to enjoy a leisurely dinner.
having made our choices from the ipad menu, we were first brought a delightful amuse bouche of light and fluffy trout mousse, before tucking into our starters. i began with a delicate salmon tartare, topped with a whipped mousse of herbed creme fraîche, while charly tucked into a colourful vegetable ribbon salad, studded with walnuts.
for the main course i opted for the steak tartare (well, when in belgium!) with a stack of thick-cut chips, with charly enjoying a decadently creamy mushroom risotto. despite our best intentions there was simply no chance of squeezing in a dessert after all that, so we retired to our room eager to clamber into the big, fluffy bed.
a blissful night of uninterrupted, deep and restorative sleep beckoned…
if you thought the story was going to take a turn for the worse here, with tales of a fitful night’s sleep instead of the perfect slumber i’d been hoping for, you’d be oh. so. wrong.
the sofitel mybed™ was just as wonderful as i’d remembered and happily my bestie – who had heard me go on and on about it on the journey there – had just as great an experience as i’d promised she would! seriously, if you ever get the chance to stay at a sofitel do make the most of it and retire to your room early – you won’t regret it!
waking feeling thoroughly refreshed, it was going to take a lot more than the dark grey rainclouds gathering threatening outside the window to keep us from exploring the city. after enjoying a hearty room-service breakfast (again, when in belgium it would be rude not to have waffles, right?) it was time to break out the umbrellas and city boots and hit the town…
stay tuned for my highlights from brussels, coming up next!
[icon name=”handshake-o” class=”” unprefixed_class=””] my 2-night stay at sofitel brussels le louise, and evening meal at crystal lounge, were provided free-of-charge by accor hotels for the purpose of this review, however all views and photography are my own.