So you’re looking for somewhere that little bit different to stay in Brussels? Somewhere within one minute’s walk of the strikingly beautiful Grand Place. Within two minutes walk of Brussels Central Station. Within earshot of the peel of the Cathedral’s bells.
And best of all, a place where you can book a room with breakfast, for just £80 a night…
I don’t usually blog about places or accommodations outside of my portfolio of clients. But I’ll make an exception on this occasion.
Because I stayed “with Dominique” the last time I was in Belgium.
Well, not actually with Dominique, you understand. This is “Chez Dominique”, ranked as the No.1 B&B on TripAdvisor for Brussels.
My reason for being there was to attend a Meet the Belgian Travel Media event organised by Visit Britain. On occasions like this, it’s easy to go for the soft option, and book a hotel. (And preferably, the hotel where the event is going to be staged).
But this time, I found myself pressing the buzzer at No 27 Rue de la Montagne just a little over two hours after setting off from St Pancras – having made the short hop by train from Brussels Midi to Brussels Central free-of-charge thanks to my Eurostar ticket.
A voice. Tumbling down the stairs from the first floor of a fairly unpromising entrance hall of a set of apartments on the Rue de la Montagne. (The only other unpromising thing about staying here, by the way, is No.6 on the list of nine terms and conditions you receive when you send over your deposit by PayPal: “Mrs Billy cannot be held responsible in the event of death…”).
The voice is that of Armel, husband of owner Dominique. Together, they run Chez Dominique, which offers B&B in two rooms of their apartment right in the heart of Brussels.
It’s like “coming home”. And once the handshakes, and welcomes in three languages (French mainly, then a smattering of English, and Flemish – if that’s any easier; although I dare say Armel will be able to turn his hand to most languages) are over, you’re directed to your double bedroom.
Mine – large, spotlessly clean, and with ensuite toilet and shower-room - overlooked the cobbled streets of Rue de la Montagne.
Armed with the maps, directions and recommendations Armel provides, it’s easy to explore Brussels from here; and in the morning, you join him for breakfast and conversation over a large dining table while Dominique cooks you boiled eggs, and fetches fresh croissants, fresh coffee and fresh orange juice. And bread.
Stuffed full of food, as well as more recommendations on places to visit, the bill is settled either by cash, or online by PayPal (no credit cards).
If you prefer the anonymity of being just another guest in a large hotel, if you don’t want to find out more about why Dominique and Armel open-up their lovely home to paying guests, if you wouldn’t feel comfortable being around a table with fellow holiday makers, then this place isn’t for you.
But if you want to gain an insight into where (for example) the best Art Deco café is in Brussels, if you want a fantastic night’s sleep in a beautiful wrought iron bed, and if you don’t want to pay more than £80 for this genuine privilege, I’d thoroughly recommend staying “with Dominique”.
You’ll find more details (and even a photograph of her) here.
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