As many reviewers have noticed, there is just no choice in LLN, and if you do not want to commute from Brussels or Leuven etc. because you have frequent business at UCL or one of the techie firms here, the Ibis - still known to many locals as the Mercure - is where you have to stay. If you can, because the hotel is often booked out, because the urban planners who created LLN from scratch forgot to put any hotel of any category, or any university guest house, into the town.
And while one can live here, whatever the hotel is, it is not comfortable. It is clean, the day staff is nice, for *** the bed is solid, the breakfast is simple but okay, and parking is free, but for me, there are serious glitches even for the category, especially seeing the price, which make stays for more than one or max two nights problematic:
- wlan is free, but it broke down not some but most of the nights and was restored (reset) sometimes only after one, two hours - a business hotel with sketchy wlan is not acceptable, whether free or not
- all rooms are tiny - this is justified by the category, but it is mostly bad architecture, with space wasted on hallways and balconies which literally nobody uses. They are so tiny that there is no space to place and live out of any piece of luggage, not even a bag, let alone a suitcase
- closet space is likewise so microscropic that you cannot hang up more than 4-5 pieces, incl. shirts and suits, and pants would hit the ground; there is literally no other space to put them
- the writing board (there is no desk) is so narrow that only a small netbook fits there; real work is not really possible
- the hotel, and that is really unique, has no laundry possibility whatsoever; no in-room line, no laundry room, but also no laundry service! This is weird because the hotel could make money on that, but I guess the monopoly makes the place so lucrative that no extra income is required. This means that if you are on a longer business trip, you literally have no chance to get a fresh clean shirt here. You have to lug your laundry to LLN and find a laundry here or do it yourself and then lug it back another day, always some 15-20 minutes walking through the countryside.
And that is another problematic aspect: Yes, 15-20 mins through bucolic countryside is not a bad walk during daylight (when dark it would feel iffy by oneself, but this is a relatively safe location) - IF the weather is good! During snow or the not infrequent rain, to reach your downtown goal is really not convenient. And of course you have to have a car - this is not really a feasible location if you arrive by train and/or plane.
Finally, as the name implies, the hotel hosts a lot of meetings, business events etc. These can get really loud and the place really crowded; usually one finds an okay parking space though, but sometimes the hotel guests seem more tolerated rather than the focus of the business. It is also key to get a room not facing the street and the arrival and smoking area, because that can get noisy, especially as windows, i.e. balcony doors, are not recent and do not close very tightly.
In sum, LLN is an interesting experiment and actually a quite pleasant "Retortenstadt" with, by now, a nice atmosphere and quite some good shops and restaurants. And the university is a very good place as well. It is, therefore, too bad that it is the Ibis that provides the only opportunity to stay in any walking distance to it, because this is not a hotel that in any way encourages or facilitates staying there. University and city should team up to remedy the situation and to encourage a **** hotel at the city center.
But for now, one is stuck - well, more or less; one always has the choice to commute. My recommendation for everyone pondering where to stay is to go for the Ibis, if one can live with the limitations mentioned above, if it is a) for one or two nights, maximally three and a short overall trip and at the same time b) summer or non-rainy late spring or early fall. If one stays longer and/or during predictably non-perfect weather, I think going for Brussels or Leuven hotels and commuting by car or (in the case of Brussels) train is much preferable.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- In the heart of a wooden parkland and close to the Louvain-la-Neuve University. Located 30 minutes from Brussels city centre and 20 minutes from the airport. The railway station is a 10 minutes walk from the hotel. Free breakfast, free Wifi, free parking, restaurant, bar, terrace, fitness and 19 meeting rooms. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Mercure Louvain La Neuve