Monday, February 23, 2015
24 Hours In Brussels: The Dominican
Although we were only in Brussels for a short time, I knew that I wanted to stay in a hotel with a bit of character, a touch of luxury, and a very convenient location, close to all the sights (and all the chocolate, of course) - The Dominican ticked all these boxes.
What initially drew me to The Dominican was its history and architecture; formerly a 15th-century Dominican Abbey and previously home to the French painter, Jacques-Louis David, the beautiful, high arches of the original building have been well preserved and seamlessly integrated into the modern design of the hotel's interiors. The lobby (or Grand Lounge, as it's called), with its sleek seating area (equipped with iPads and free Wifi) and jaw-dropping chandelier, makes for a grand entrance.
As for location, we were spoiled by The Dominican, as its central location meant that we could reach most places by foot - easily within 10 minutes or so (great for me because I'm lazy, and also because we had some initial confusion when trying to figure out the tram system!). We scoped out the seafood in Sainte-Catherine, wandered past the beautiful windows of antique dealers into the chocolate shops of the Sablon, and paid a visit to the Musical Instrument Museum on our last day.
And the rooms. Oh my goodness, the rooms.
When we walked in, we were greeted by soft Gregorian chanting emanating from the TV ... which we ended up leaving on during our whole stay! This, when piped into the bathroom as well, felt like a spa experience in itself (speaking of spas, I was dying to try the Finnish sauna and Turkish steam bath in the 5th floor spa, but we ended up vegetating in the room instead ... the rainfall showerhead was enough to feel like a treat after an afternoon of trekking around outside in the cold!).
And you know when it feels like you've been enveloped in the fluffiest of clouds just before you fall asleep? The pillows and duvet in the picture above definitely felt just like that. The courtyard offered a pretty view outside our window, while other rooms in the hotel (there are 150) overlooked La Monnaie, the opera house (so wish we'd had time to catch a concert!).
That evening, we went back to the hotel for a drink after enjoying a fancy, schmancy dinner at Belga Queen (which is less than a minute walk away from the hotel's entrance ... I had no idea it was that close, but Jess had suggested we try it, so we did!) - a live DJ takes residence in The Dominican's bar on Thursday nights and, while the clientele seemed to be mostly people on business (who had a few years on us), I could imagine that it'd be a fun place to hang out with a larger group of friends in the high season.
Waking up with slightly sore heads the next morning (champagne or chocolate overdose - I couldn't tell), we stumbled downstairs to breakfast, which I was really, really looking forward to.
Though it was raining in the courtyard to our left, I could have easily sipped tea and read a book in this gorgeous, tranquil dining room for the remainder of our visit, which really sums up the whole "feeling" of the hotel, if you will - a place that's beautiful and luxurious, but equally a place that I easily felt at home in.
The breakfast was all about fresh juices and fruit, champagne, eggs made to order, cold meats and cheeses (I love this part about European breakfasts - call me crazy, but I love having cold cuts, "schmeary" cheese, and a hunk of bread in the morning!), and of course ... waffles.
Needless to say, I did not skimp on breakfast (and yes, that's French toast in the corner too ... plus scrambled eggs and a sausage - don't judge) and Udita's day was made when she discovered passion fruit in the selection of fruit.
Staff at The Dominican were more than hospitable: printing out my Eurostar ticket for me when I realized that my return ticket was merely a blank page (nice one!), making dinner reservations for us, looking after our various chocolate-filled bags acquired from Pierre Marcolini, and helpfully letting us know when the breakfast buffet would be closing, you know, just in case we wanted seconds (which we obviously did).
Soon, however, it was time to leave, and I only wished we had at least another evening to enjoy at The Dominican. I'd love to return in the spring/summer when the weather's a bit warmer and we can take our drinks outside.
Until next time.
Udita and I were guests of The Dominican, which we both loved. Special thanks to Deborah for arranging our visit. I'd highly recommend this hotel if you're planning a trip to Brussels!