If you’re travelling to Brussels, here’s fair warning that the elegant Pillows Grand Hotel Place Rouppe has beds so comfortable ‘pillow talk’ could stretch into a lengthy bedtime story. An inspired ‘clockless dining’ concept – for ordering plates of Belgian cheese or Kriek-beer-splashed Black Forest gâteau at 1am – and a crackling fire to play cards or read by will keep you cloistered. But, the capital’s Gothic Grand Place and – less-erudite – Mannekin-Pis statue (a cheeky figure of a tinkling boy); a museum dedicated to native surrealist Magritte; opera, film and theatre in art nouveau chambers; and an equally cultured café scene should rouse you from that oh-so-comfy bed.
Noon, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 3pm.
Double rooms from $155.32 (€136), excluding tax at 6 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional local city tax of €4.24 per room per night on check-out.
Rates do not usually include breakfast; a Continental buffet of pastries, breads, granola, eggs and juices is available for €25 a person, and the à la carte has hot and cold add-ons.
Guests are encouraged to rifle through the art- and fashion-focused coffee-table books in the Living bar and lounge; and there are decks of cards, backgammon and other pastimes for idling away quieter evenings.
At the hotel
Wine bar and lounge with board games; laundry service; free WiFi throughout. In rooms: LED TV, Bluetooth-streaming Tivoli radio, gourmet minibar, Nespresso coffee machine, tea-making kit, free bottled water and custom toiletries.
Our favourite rooms
To bed down on it in style, plump for the suite, which has plenty of pillow-fighting space, a French balcony for watching the Belgians go by, and it’s the only room in the hotel that has a bath tub to soak in. For a bit of buzz, some of the Grand Luxury Rooms overlook Rouppe Place.
Your cosiest nighttime attire, be it care-worn flannel PJs or come-hither negligees.
Dutifully living up to their name, the hotel also offers a turndown service.
Some larger rooms can fit a baby cot, but this European sophisticate is better suited to grown-ups.
For a little privacy, settle on a sofa to the back of the Living; if in a sociable mood, sit at the marble counter.
Despite the snoozy name, beyond your room Pillows’ favoured in-house look is tailored and tonal.
The Living, Resto & Winebar is indeed a place for happily existing in; this cosy, fireplace-warmed wine bar and lounge serves as the hotel’s restaurant, but it’s by no means formal. Midnight snackers and the jetlagged and peckish will appreciate the hotel’s ‘clockless dining’ concept, where you can order up creamy velouté (soup), a Belgian cheese platter, burgers and sandwiches or Black Forest gâteau punched-up with cherry beer, till the wee hours (the night menu is slightly reduced from the main menu). The breakfast carte tempts with salmon-y, eggy, bacon-y bits; pull up a stool to the white-marble bar and dig in.
The Living, Resto & Winebar has drinks of the soft and hard varieties, with a comprehensive champagne selection and Belgian beers, naturally, of the Trappist (brewed by Cistercian monks), white and lambic (brewed in the Pajottenland region) ilk, among others.
Food is available whenever you wish (although the nighttime menu is a little reduced.
The same laidback, all-hours approach to dining applies to in-room feasts too.
Brussels Airport is a 30-minute drive from the hotel; flights arrive here direct from major cities in Europe; from further afield, flights stop over in Scandinavia or the UAE. Contact the Smith24 team to arrange flights or transfers.
The hotel lies in between the Central and Midi stations (both a 15-minute walk away); the Eurostar arrives at the latter direct from London, Paris and Amsterdam (each around two hours’ journey time). Trains from the airport and main cities throughout Belgium arrive at Central Station. Contact the Smith24 team to arrange tickets. The hotel’s closest Metro stops is Anneessens, a 2-minute walk away; Midi Station and Lemonnier are both a 10-minute walk away.
Brussels is pedestrian friendly; the city’s most charming attractions are within strolling distance of one another, and you’ll have more chance to ogle the grandeur when you explore on foot. The city’s tram system is another way of zipping from sight to sight – the Anneessens stop is the closest to the hotel (around a five-minute walk away); tickets for public transport can be bought for 24- to 72-hour periods. If you choose to hire a car, the hotel has valet parking for €25 a night (the Smith24 team can help hire some wheels for you).
Worth getting out of bed for
A 10-minute walk away from Pillows, the Grand Place is Brussels’ centrepiece; the rightfully Unesco-protected, cobble-lined square is presided over by the Gothic Town Hall, and the Broodhuis (‘breadhouse’), which is home to the city museum – both buildings as intricately crafted as Brussels’ lace. Close by is the revered symbol of the city – and of the Belgians’ curious sense of humour (locally known as zwanze) – Mannekin Pis, a statue of a tinkling boy that’s kept up a steady stream (of admirers) since the 17th century. His shame is occasionally covered with a weekly wardrobe of costumes, which adds to the fountain’s mischievous charm. Mannekin Pis’s trickle-down fame has seen the addition of counterpart statues, including a girl (Jeanneke-Pis) and dog (Zinneke-Pis). The elegant Sablon area has decorative churches and repurposed palaces, which mingle with beloved chocolatiers and cafés. Famed pâtisserie Wittamer & Co peddles some incredible confections: peony- or yuzu-flavoured macarons; marzipan-sculpted critters; and work-of-art cakes. Chocolatier Marcolini on Rue des Minimes has glossy hearts filled with praline or fruity creams, a tour of global cocoa producers in one box, and rich champagne truffles. A gentle wander through manicured Brussels Park will counteract any overindulgence; at its fringes lies the museum dedicated to Belgian surrealist René Magritte; the Centre for Fine Arts (colloquially known as Bozar); the Belvue history museum; and the Royal Palace. To the north west of the city, by Quai du Hainault, is Mima – an achingly hip gallery set in the former Bellevue brewery. They have a rotating programme of exhibitions, but super-cool artists Joan Cornellà and Faile have added some colour to its walls previously.
Chez Léon on Rue des Bouchers is an old-school eatery denoted by a luridly green neon sign and a bank of tables dressed in gingham cloths. It does draw a surfeit of tourists, but for the best reason: a fine menu of mussels every-way and excellent meat and fish dishes. Just steps from the hotel sits Comme Chez Soi, a gracious art nouveau restaurant with intricate stained glass and elegant wooden flourishes. The food, which is as ornamental as the decor, and homey ambience have drawn punters for nearly 100 years.
Try a traditional Belgian sandwich at Pistolet in the Sablon neighbourhood; the namesake humble bread roll has a rich inner life – it can be plumped up with numerous fillings: white sausage and onion, cordon bleu, gouda and chicory, beef tartare, shrimps… À la Mort Subite serves simple, filling fare (meats and cheeses, salads, sandwiches and omelettes), and has a range of beers you’ll merrily toast to.
The Delirium Café (purveyors of the pink-elephant-branded, knock-for-six-strength beer) has a drinks list requiring several kilometre-of-ale glasses. With more than 2,000 bottles and draughts on offer, we advise you to pace yourself. Head to the absinthe bar after if you want to add a green fairy to the pink elephants you’re seeing.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this stop, drop and flop boutique hotel in central Brussels and unpacked their truffles from chocolatier Neuhaus and box of creative cakes from pâtisserie Wittamer, a full account of their city break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a bedtime story about Pillows Grand Hotel Place Rouppe in Belgium…
If the saying ‘Brussels never sleeps’ isn’t in common usage, it’s probably because resident Belgians and visitors to the capital are feeling a little tuckered after a full day of wandering the streets of the city’s mediaeval centre and glorious statement square, Grand Place; hanging out in art nouveau theatres and museums; polishing off one too many truffles; or sinking a number of witbiers and trappist ales while debating EU policy late into the night. The soundest sleep is to be found in Pillows Grand Hotel Place Rouppe, a city-break spot as dreamy as its name promises. Set within neoclassical townhouses, the hotel offers 24-hour dining in a marble- and wood-accented living space, and elegantly outfitted rooms, in which a palette of soft greys, blues and cream and linen-dressed mattresses lull guests to sleep – when it comes to bedding down, this hotel’s got it all made up.
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