It would be difficult – or maybe even impossible – to find a hotel closer to the heart of Europe than the Hilton Grand Place in Brussels. And given it is such an amazing venue, why look elsewhere anyway?
TEXT: MARTIN PILKINGTON | PHOTO © HILTON BRUSSELS GRAND PLACE
When Swedish group Pandox bought The Hilton Grand Place Hotel in Brussels for 55 million euros in September 2016 they were buying a great hotel with a fabulous location. They then began a major programme to make it even better.
The real estate cliché ‘location, location, location’ holds true in the hotel business too, and The Hilton Grand Place has a location second to none: “Brussels is at the centre of Europe politically and economically, and our hotel is in the heart of Brussels,” says Alia Beskok, cluster director of business development. Its address on the Carrefour de l’Europe pretty much says it all – it means the crossroads of Europe – and its centrality within Brussels itself is emphasised by the city’s Central Station standing just opposite.
Pandox took to heart that concept of Brussels being at the centre of and intimately linked to Europe in one of the projects it undertook between June 2017 and February this year, in a 3 million euros investment programme within the hotel: its stunning restaurant, Sentro Lounge & More, has a name that incorporates the word centre, and melds it with another that speaks volumes about its ambition – senses.
“Sentro Lounge & More is almost symbolic of what the hotel is about,” says Alia, “as it makes creative use of Belgian produce, not least the wonderful meat supplied by our partner Dierendonck, a company founded 39 years ago dedicated to sourcing the very best products available, and there are always authentic Belgian dishes and specialities” Head chef Vincent Masson is passionate about diners being able to experience the best local produce and the gastronomic pleasures that can be fashioned with such materials. But it also embraces the best of the rest of Europe, as Vincent Masson himself says: “Sentro Lounge & More is a cuisine combining my desires and local products, but also the opportunity to share the culinary emotions of my different experiences in Europe.”
The improvement programme also took in major changes to the breakfast room, the fitness centre, the bar – whose fantastic selection of Belgian beers and fine liqueurs from around the continent echoes Sentro’s approach – the executive lounge and, of course, the rooms themselves. Guests, on arriving in the lobby, can see from the outset that this is a hotel that means business – and pleasure, with its blend of classically refined colours and décor, and the comfort of contemporary furniture – and a well-stocked bar beckoning for business travellers who have had a hard day’s negotiation.
Business and pleasure
It is a hotel for leisure travellers too: its double queen rooms are ideal for family stays, and with famous tourist sites like The Magritte Museum, Manneken Pis, and of course the Grand Place itself all within five minutes’ walk – the Grand Place only a three-minute stroll, in fact. And something new set to be unveiled this May will appeal to younger guests staying at the hotel, a fresco outside the hotel of cartoon characters the Smurfs, produced in collaboration with the hotel as part of the city’s cartoon walking route.
Chocolate as a very edible artform
As Alia explains, another of the recent innovations in the hotel is equally attractive for business and leisure clienteles, and in some cases literally puts the cherry on the top of the Hilton Grand Place’s offer: “We’re honoured to host the first Godiva Chocolate Café in Europe, a concept store that, as you’d expect with such a famous Belgian chocolatier, shows why Belgium’s chocolate culture is second to none in the world.” Even a brief glance at the products on offer demonstrates how chocolate can become an art form – albeit a deliciously edible one. There is always the 24-hour accessible fitness centre to work off those extra calories!
Hilton Brussels Grand Place in numbers
224 guest rooms and suites
17 meeting rooms, including two ballrooms holding up to 200 delegates for cocktail receptions
24-hour room service
24-hour access to fitness room
Within Walking Distance
Opposite Brussels’ central train station (direct connection to the airport in 20 minutes and to Brussels South Station, for Thalys, TGV and Eurostar, in 5 minutes)
3 minutes to the Square Convention Centre
10 minutes from the EU district
3 minutes to UNESCO World Heritage site, the Grand Place
5 minutes to the Magritte Museum
5 minutes to the world famous Manneken Pis