I’ve stayed at the Hilton Brussels City before, so I must have had some good reason for coming back. But this time I’ve found myself questioning those reasons, though not the location, which remains excellent.
In some respects, the Hilton is a little like McDonalds: it’s a global brand with pretty much the same quality wherever you go. In other words, in unfamiliar surroundings, you know what you’re likely to get. Step through the doors of this Hilton and things look pretty good. The bar area and small restaurant are immediately to your right. The décor is fresh and modern. Step up to the front desk and you are greeted by young, polite and helpful staff. (Personal service in the hotel has always been excellent, in my experience).
Things are less sure footed from here on in. Continue past the reception desk to the lifts, on your right, noting the (expensive) breakfast room before you turn to the lifts. I’ve taken breakfast here before, but it’s well over 20 Euros now and it’s not really that good. I skipped it this time and picked up a much cheaper coffee and croissant from one of the nearby cafés. Anyway, onwards to my floor via the small and not especially quick lifts, noting the hotel’s reminder to book a taxi cab, if needed for the next morning, as they are in short supply at that time of day.
Once in my room, it’s pretty much the same as I’ve experienced before: clean, neat, modern. This time, though, perhaps spurred by the thought of writing a Trip Advisor report, I notice things less to my liking. Like how small it is given that I am paying over 120 Euros per night, even at my agency-negotiated room rate. What undermines the room is that for storage there is only a wardrobe with 10 hangars and one small shelf at above head height – the rest of the storage closet is taken up with an old CRT television, a mini-fridge, a room safe and storage for the ice bucket. This means you can’t really unpack. If two people were staying here for any number of days, your luggage would have to stay out, eating into the already limited real estate in the room. The desk and chair – but only one chair in the room – are good enough to work from for many hours (believe me, I tried it) and the bed is comfortable. The down side to sleep is the pillows. Unlike some chains that have a firm and soft pillow combination in the room, all the Hilton pillows are firm and large. If you’re a front sleeper, like me, that’s going to kink your neck into a really uncomfortable position.
My other big niggle is how stingy the Hilton is. Internet access (wired and wireless) is available throughout the hotel, but nowhere – even in the public areas – is it free. And it’s not cheap to purchase access – 12 Euros for 60 minutes use over a 24-hour period, or 22 Euros for continuous 24-hour use – and these are the cheapest plans (the speed, at least, is good – 5.8Mbps download speed, which isn’t bad considering that my package is supposed to limit me to 256Kbps). When I last stayed in the Crowne Plaza, immediately next door to the Hilton, there was free internet access. In the room itself there are only two available power sockets (discounting the one occupied by the alarm clock), which is downright nuts in these days of laptops, tablet computers, mobile phones, etc. And then there’s the coffee facility. At least the Hilton provides a kettle, but two sachets of coffee and two of crème. Really?! I know the Hilton’s not running a café in my room, but Ebeneezer Scrooge might even wince at this meanness. And why does the hotel insist on placing the kettle and all the tea/coffee facilities on the opposite side of the room to the only power sockets the kettle can use?
So why did I choose to stay here? Now I remember. It’s all about location. Local restaurants close by and a reasonable ten-minute walk to the Grand Place, though you could stay closer if you chose. Choose that, though, and you don’t get the tram station and metro immediately outside your hotel (don’t worry, they’re both underground, so no noise) and a five-minute walk to the Gare du Nord. These three transport hubs make it easy to get to the hotel whether you come by train or plane and once at the hotel to get around and even out of the city. Would I stay here again? Hmmm. I’ll be thinking hard about that one and checking the prices amongst the local competition around Place Rogier.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Highlights•Situated in the heart of Brussels near the Rue Neuve shopping district•A few minutes’ walk from Brussels Gare du Nord station•Close to World Trade Center and popular attractions including Grand Place City Square•Wireless internet access, business center and Scandinavian Wellness and Health Club •Bien Belge Living Lounge restaurant and bar serving Belgian specialties, fine wine and beerSituated in the center of downtown Brussels, within yards of Gare du Nord station and in close proximity to the Rue Neuve shopping district and the World Trade Center, the Hilton Brussels City hotel is the ideal place to stay when you are visiting Belgium’s capital. All the facilities are in place to allow you to remain productive during your stay. With wireless internet access, a business center and a range of meeting rooms you will be able to work with the minimum of hassle.After a busy day in Brussels or a long journey, you can relax and rejuvenate in the Scandinavian Wellness and Health Club and sample the delicious Flemish cuisine on offer in the Bien Belge Living Lounge restaurant and bar. Offering responsive service and stylish contemporary comfort in an enviable location, this Brussels hotel has everything you need to make the most of your stay in one of Europe’s most vibrant cities.Local Attractions •Stroll to Brussels’ famous Grand Place, the center of the Old City’s pavement café culture•Stop in at Marcolini’s Chocolatiers and buy some handmade Belgian chocolates to take home•Experience world class shops located on the Rue Neuve •Visit the Delerium Café•View one of the world’s finest collections of pre-modern art at the Musée d’Art Ancien ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Hilton Brussels City Hotel Saint-Josse-Ten-Noode
- Brussels Hilton
- Hilton Brussels City Belgium