Best Western Brussels City Centre
As part of a weekend break in Belgium I stayed one night at the Best Western Brussels City Centre Hotel. After searching on various price comparison websites I booked the hotel via www.hotelhippo.com which offered the cheapest price. I paid £56.31 for a single room with breakfast included. This included a five percent discount redeemable with promotional code ‘hippo5’. I also took advantage of topcashback.com for an additional 5% off.
The hotel is located toward the north of the city and is a five minute walk from Brussels Noord Rail Station. Within five minutes walking towards the centre is a pleasant park called Botanique which has ponds and a nice water feature. Adjacent to the hotel is the police station and yes at night, you will hear the sound of police sirens. There is a convenience store just round the corner toward Brussels Noord station.
Although the hotel is called ‘city centre’ it is not really located in close proximity to any of the major tourist attractions. By foot it takes at least 20 minutes to get to Grand Place, which for any visitor to the city would viewed as the centre.
Upon arrival to the hotel I was pleased to see a modern lobby fitted with a black marble effect tile floor and clean paintwork. To the right I could see the breakfast/dining area which also appeared well decorated and tidy.
I proceeded to my hotel room and used the lift that was adjacent to the reception. The lift fits at most four people. Now when the lift doors opened it was like I was in a different hotel completely. The corridor walls were painted in a light lilac colour which was complemented by a brown speck carpet. The corridor was very narrow and to the end was a piece of art depicting a green leaf. Not particularly inspiring. Anyway my room was located on the second floor toward the end of the corridor so I proceeded to walk.
When I got to the room (201), I opened the door with the key-card with ease. Inside, in front of the room door there is a double wardrobe, the en-suite bathroom to the left and the bedroom area to the right. The bedroom area itself is small although adequate containing a single bed, a bedside table which had a reading light and clock/alarm, desk and chair, tea/coffee making facilities and a flat screen TV mounted to the wall.
The décor is not particularly inviting and the room showed signs of wear and tear. The carpet was red, which I think is a horrible colour for a bedroom. The curtains were a red and peach floral stripe pattern, which again did not add anything to the quality of the room. The curtains were not blackout curtains and there were net curtains in front of a good size window. On a bright day there was sufficient natural light coming through but I would suspect that during winter days the room would feel dark and cold.
The bed itself was basic with a wooden base. The mattress was clean and did provide sufficient support and comfort. I did not manage to get a good night sleep as it was a humid night and I could not deal with the noise of the upright fan so decided to open the window a little. This resulted in more noise as I could hear police sirens, loud music from passing cars and the shouts of rowdy Turkish men in the street. I guess this has to be expected given the location.
The walls and floor of the en-suite bathroom are finished in white gloss ceramic tiles. Whilst the bathroom was clean there were some tiles that were beginning to crack and there was some visible mildew that had become embedded into the grouting over the years.
The bathroom consisted of a hand basin, bath with shower unit, toilet and towel rail. One hand towel and one bath towel was provided. There was complementary sample size shower gel and shampoo, shower cap, shoe shine and a small bar of soap. The shower had good water pressure and maintained a hot temperature.
The breakfast/dining area is tidy and modern in décor. The floor is laminate wood and the walls are a clean beige colour. There is some art work on the walls. There are approximately a dozen wooden top tables which are well presented with place mats, crockery and cutlery. The chairs are constructed from black metal and have a cushion to sit on.
Breakfast itself is of the buffet variety offering hot and cold food. The hot food consisted of dry scrambled egg, crispy bacon and overcooked beans. Not particularly appetising. The cold cuts include one variety of cheap ham and one type of sliced cheese. There were plenty of croissants available although bread rolls were thinly stocked. There is a choice of preserves and to drink there is orange juice, apple juice, tea and coffee. I did not find the food particularly tasty and if I had stayed more than one night I would have probably gone to a café for breakfast.
Upon arrival to the hotel checking in was quite straightforward. There was one person at reception who asked me if they could help. I explained that I had a reservation and proceeded to hand them my booking confirmation. They checked with me the duration of my stay and confirmed that I had paid in full already. Despite already paying I had to sign a declaration to agree to pay for items that could be charged to the room. I found this a little strange and even more so when I did not find a minibar in the room. Nevertheless the receptionist was friendly and explained what time breakfast was served and what time to check out by.
There was one incident involving a member of the hotel staff that reduced the overall impression of helpfulness and customer service. While I was eating breakfast, about half way through the allocated breakfast timeframe, items began to decrease off the buffet bar. A polish couple asked the catering assistant for bread and cheese (as these were not available at the bar), to which the catering assistant responded with a shrug. She did not offer an apology and more importantly, she did not make the effort to go to the kitchen to find these foodstuff items to replenish the buffet bar. She simply continued to clean and set tables. I finished eating about fifteen minutes later and there still was no sight of bread and cheese.
The hotel does not have a restaurant but behind the reception desk there are fridges stocking cold soft drinks and alcoholic beverages. A bottle of ice-tea cost approximately £2 which is similar to the price charged by cafes in Brussels. The receptionist offered me a glass for my drink and took it to my room. I’m not sure if there are snacks available but there is definitely no food served (except breakfast).
The room did not contain a personal safe which did bother me a little as I was not convinced that there was adequate security. I concluded this because I had wandered into the lobby and another receptionist, whom I hadn’t seen before asked me if I would like to make a reservation. I explained that I was already staying here and then proceeded to the lift to reach my floor and hotel room. What bothered me was that he did not ask who I was or asked to see my key-card to prove that I was staying there. I could have been lying and I would have got away with it. More to the point I did not notice any CCTV in the corridors so it would have made it easier for an opportunistic thief.
Apart from the lobby and breakfast area, the hotel could do with some proper redecoration. The corridor were not particularly warm or inviting and the same with the hotel room. There is a distinct difference in the quality of décor of the communal area and private accommodation that the experience of moving between these spaces is fragmented and disconnected. When moving from the lobby to the hotel, I got a real feeling of dissatisfaction as I expected much more from what was left by my first impressions.
Overall I was disappointed with this hotel. The standard price on the best western website is around £85 which I think is too expensive even for a city like Brussels. The deal I found was the cheapest available and whilst there were similar priced hotels I thought that Best Western would be a good choice for a comfortable stay. Unfortunately I did not find the room particularly well decorated and whilst the bed was ok I did not get much sleep due to external noises.
The breakfast was mediocre at best and such quality would be expected at a cheap hostel not a reputable hotelier. The rooms and corridors are in need of redecoration. The service was friendly and professional. There is not much else to be positive about so for that reason I would not recommend this hotel and I certainly would not return.