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Where to Stay in Brussels
The Brussels-Capital Region is huge, composed of 19 varied districts that sprawl out toward the suburbs. Most visitors, however, will do all or most of their sightseeing in the center city. Unless you’re just stopping over in Brussels on your way to another European destination, there’s no real benefit to staying anywhere other than this neighborhood; the vast majority of the Brussels’ hotels and prominent sites can be found in its substantial yet walkable urban core.
Center city’s densest concentration of hotels is in the “lower city,” so-called for its flat, low elevation. Its centerpiece is Grand Place, Brussels’ stunning main square and the site of its Town Hall. The lower city is the center for commerce and government, and though this area is busy year-round, it’s a great neighborhood in which to look for cheap hotel deals in Brussels. The adjacent “upper city,” situated among steep hills, has comparatively fewer hotels, but many of the more elegant properties. Major landmarks in the high region include Brussels’ Royal Palace and Grand Sablon Place, the upper city’s own central square.
Brussels Hotel Tips
Brussels is one of Europe’s economic powerhouses and the bureaucratic capital of the European Union, so during a typical week, visitors traveling on official business usually outnumber pleasure-seeking tourists. As a result, many hoteliers in the city tailor their offerings to business travelers, but this can work in a vacationer’s favor. The business-centric hotels are usually very high quality, many feature some of the better restaurants in the city, and room rates over weekends are often deeply discounted.
In the upper city, you’ll find a greater proportion of hotels that cater to sightseers, including a handful of small and independent inns. For the most part, however, hotels throughout Brussels are operated by European and international lodging brands, including many of the hotels established inside historic buildings.
Brussels Hotel Recommendations
If you’d like to stay in Brussels’ lower city, Le Dixseptieme is one of the finest hotels in the area, noted for its picturesque courtyard and sophisticated hotel bar. The 17th century structure that houses the hotel underwent an extensive renovation in 2009, but the property maintains an ideal balance between historical appeal and modern comfort. Standard rooms are huge, and suites are palatial.
An excellent nearby choice that is less opulent and expensive is Mozart, though you wouldn’t guess that its rooms are so affordable after a tour of its grandiose lobby. Bright, cheerful furnishings and unexpected design details give Mozart the feel of a boutique hotel, but the best part may be its location just around the corner from Grand Place.
In the upper city, the Bristol Stephanie is another hotel with a great location near Grand Sablon Place. It’s parked right on Avenue Louise, the area’s main drag for dining and shopping, and the hotel itself is finished with modern, almost futuristic fixtures. A more competitively priced and much smaller alternative is Agenda Louise, located a short walk away in a quieter neighborhood. Its 37 rooms, some of which feature fully equipped kitchenettes, are notably spacious.
Traffic in Brussels is often hectic and searching for parking tends to be confusing for drivers who are unfamiliar with the area, so consider bypassing the rental car counter after your flight to Brussels. Instead, you can take the cheap and speedy Airport City Express train to the subway station nearest your hotel, then finish your journey on the metro. Once you’re settled, you can move all over town using the efficient and integrated system of subways, streetcars and buses.
All three components of the public transit system are operated by the Brussels Intercommunal Transport Company, known locally as STIB. Full fare, schedule and route information is available on the company’s website, as well as at most metro stations. All public transit services run until midnight, and certain buses operate around the clock.
Metered taxis are available, but they cannot stop for passengers on the street. To travel by cab, find a taxi stand outside a major hotel or restaurant, or have someone call a ride for you.