Brussels is a hub of diplomatic relations that draws many business travelers. Of course, plenty of people visit the Belgian capital for leisure purposes as well. Both groups have countless choices when it comes to big-name chain lodgings. Though, the options for boutique stays remain a bit more limited. The Dominican fills that void.
Conveniently located in the heart of the city, a short five-minute walk from Brussels Central Station, this well-heeled member of Design Hotels sits on the site of a 15th-century abbey. French neoclassical painter Jacques-Louis David later called this address home. Belgian architecture studio Lens Ass integrated part of the old façade into the new construction, creating something that feels simultaneous like a relic from a bygone era and yet current—a theme throughout the hotel.
Dutch design firm FG Stijl did an incredible job honoring the soul of the landmark. The double-height ground floor is a sight to behold. Archways with hanging pendant lights, ornate metalwork, and enormous windows bring the historic drama. Original stone flooring further reinforces the perceptible sense of place. Plush textiles and cozy seating areas add a level of intimacy. Contemporary touches like a blown-glass chandelier in the lobby mix with medieval-inspired elements.
The best example of this old-meets-new-world European aesthetic comes in the striking restaurant, where guests can stare up at the soaring ceilings while sampling both traditional Belgian dishes and creative international cuisine. The atmospheric bar oozes discrete decadence with sumptuous velvet chairs, mood lighting, and craft cocktails. It’s hard to remember you’re in the middle of Brussels while sipping a beverage in the tranquil inner courtyard under the shade of a fig tree. When the temps drop, the fire pits turn up the cozy factor.
Baroque instrumental music plays in the elevator—a not-so-subtle yet totally ambiance-setting nod to the former abbey. Vibrant art adorns the walls. The pattern on the hallway carpet conjures stained glass and flows into the guest quarters. Rooms are smart with amenities like free Wi-Fi and come in various sizes, from compact to spacious. Shades of rich brown and dark wood give them a warm feeling that’s a nice counterpoint to the structured, clean lines. The built-in storage works well to stash suitcases and suit-filled garment bags. Jewel-tone lamps flank the super comfortable king-size beds and pop against the mahogany hues. Desks accented by velvet chairs make it all the more clear that these setups were designed with both business and leisure travelers in mind.
If you’re planning a longer trip or just want more square footage to sprawl out, the sanctuary-like Grand Place Suite is quite compelling with its separate living and sleeping areas, fireplace, bathroom with rain shower and bathtub, and views over the courtyard.
Location: Brussels, Belgium
The Vibe: Echoes of a medieval abbey in a modern city-center setting.
Food + Drink: The grand restaurant puts out an impressive breakfast buffet with fresh-baked bread, pastries, eggs, fruit, meats, and cheeses. Guests can savor lunch and dinner in the same striking space. There’s also a cozy bar and garden terrace for drinks.
Amenities: Restaurant; bar; courtyard; gym; sauna; hammam; room service; concierge; meeting spaces; Wi-Fi
Our Favorite Thing About the Hotel: The endlessly photogenic restaurant pays homage to the grandeur of the 15th-century abbey.
5 Nearby Attractions: Grand Place (Grote Markt), Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, Royal Palace of Brussels, Royal Gallery of Saint Hubert, Cathedral of St. Gudula
Any Personal Neighborhood Recs? Just around the corner from the hotel, Wolf is one of those cool, modern food hall concepts with tons of different types of cuisine—Greek, Indian, Syrian, Vietnamese, the list goes on—and two bars. For hearty Belgian fare and an impressive selection of beers, make a reservation at Nüetnigenough. There are waffle carts and shops everywhere. Veganwaf’, a little kiosk near the Grand-Place, offers a vegan version that’s knock-your-socks-off good plain or with a drizzle of salted caramel.
Rooms: 150 rooms and suites
Pricing: Rooms start at $170/night
Closest Airport: Brussels Airport
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