Where to Stay and Where to Eat in Brussels

Destination: Brussels

 

Where to Stay and Where to Eat in Brussels

 

Lilicup Brussels

 

Welcome to Part 2 of the “Destination: Brussels” special travel series. As Caitlin Krause explores the picturesque Brussels neighbourhood of Châtelain, she highlights where to stay and where to dine. Enjoy the discovery! All photos and text by Caitlin Krause.

Where to Stay: Le Châtelain

 

 

Hotel Le Chatelaine Brussels

 

The Le Châtelain boutique hotel is close to the Place du Châtelain, considered the heart of the voisinage (French for “neighbourhood”).  The hotel location is ideal, as it’s also a quick 5 minute ride on the tram to downtown, or a short 20 minute walk on the store-lined boulevard Avenue Louise. Twelve years old, the hotel is well-established as the choice pick for the area. What makes Le Châtelain special goes deeper than its five stars and reputation as a luxury boutique hotel – what distinguishes it is the quality of personal service.

 

Hotel Le Chatelaine Brussels.

 

Upon check-in, which was in the evening on a rainy night, I spied the welcoming fireplace in the lounge area, with warm hearth beckoning.  I was enjoying a memoir about Jacqueline Kennedy, Susan Sontag, and Angela Davis in Paris, and decided it would be far more appealing to spend a few minutes reading by the fire before retiring to sleep.  Immediately, the lighting was adjusted, and I was brought tea with honey and fresh lemon, all to ensure my comfort and enjoyment. I could not have anticipated a warmer welcome.

 

Hotel Le Chatelain Brussels

 

That anecdote is just one example of the ways in which the team representing Le Châtelain goes out of their way to ensure a wonderful stay. It was easy to relax there, and to have quick access to the best of Bruxelles.  With comfortable beds, excellent cuisine, charming lounge areas, and staff members who take pride in guests’ happiness, this hotel is a standout. If “Le Châtelain” means king of the castle, the surrounding neighborhood is its kingdom to explore.

 

Cuisine: Bistros, Boulangeries, Cafés and Pâtisseries

 

Patisseries in Brussels

 

Bruxelles boasts every type of cuisine, and nearly all forms and styles can be found within Châtelain, which is known for its café culture. Many say it’s the best cuisine in all of Europe. Let’s start (and finish), as all days should, with tea, coffee and sweets!

 

Patisseries in Brussels

 

For bakeries, there are many, many options– enough to keep one trying new places all the time, and still discovering more. My current favorites are Le St. Aulaye boulangerie, for good bread, and Nicolas Arnaud pâtisserie for cakes, chocolates, and croissants that will blow your mind.  Seriously, the chocolate-almond croissants from both bakeries are among the best I’ve tasted, and I consider myself a connoisseur!

 

Patisseries in Brussels

 

Le St. Aulaye’s “pain intégral“, otherwise known as whole wheat bread, is out-of-this-world when topped with fresh butter or their homemade chocolate-hazelnut spread.  Both locations are a delight to visit, and make for a nice morning walk, easily coupled with a visit to nearby Parc Tenbosch.

Everywhere has tea; everywhere has coffee. Just don’t expect a Starbucks, or any chain, for that matter: these are one-of-a-kind spots. My favorite place to go: Gaudron, which is a bit farther afield, in Place Brughmann, yet you can sit in the sunshine outside and simply enjoy the open place… it’s quite nice.

For restaurants and bistros, there are multitudinous options to appeal to every palate. Still, the following five are standout, for various reasons:

 

Quincaillierie Brussels

 

La Quincaillerie – A former ironmonger’s shop.

 

Quincaillierie Brussels

 

Designed by a student of the iconic Art Nouveau architect Victor Horta, this restaurant specializes in seafood dishes, and both the décor and the cuisine are quite beautiful to behold.

 

Raconte moi des salades Brussels

 

Raconte-Moi des Salades – This gorgeous, bright restaurant reminds me of a Spanish villa, for some reason, with a courtyard opening in the back.  Tables have inlaid colorful mosaic tiles, and the ambiance is eclectic and inspired.  No wonder the creative aesthetic appeal– owner Olias Barco is also a renowned filmmaker. The salad offerings are diverse and flavorful– I recommend starting with a caprese, and then sampling according to your fancy!

 

La Canne en Ville Brussels

 

La Canne en Ville – Speaking of fancy, La Canne en Ville is one of those “corner restaurants” that always attracted my attention every time I passed by.  With only about eight tables and an elegant interior, it’s located on a quiet side-street, making quite the intimate impression.  Each meal is cooked according to taste (yours coupled with the chef’s), and the desserts make a fine finishing touch.  The French-inspired dishes are artisanal and seasonal, and a sure bet for delicious. I would recommend leaving room for the tarte tatin for dessert; it’s not-to-be-missed.

 

Mama roma Brussels

 

Mamma Roma – Located right off of the central Place du Châtelain, Mamma Roma is often packed and bustling with energy. Their innovative thick-crust foccacia-style pizzas are cut with large kitchen scissors, so you can mix-and-match sizes and flavors as you wish, paying by weight. My flavor of choice? The “Patate al Tartufo”: mozzarella, thinly-sliced potatoes, and truffle sauce. Aromatic bliss!

 

L'epicerie Brussels

 

L’Epicerie – 66 Rue du Page – Have you ever been to a restaurant that felt both charming and right-at-home?  Owner Magalie Boutemy has created such a restaurant wonder: a whimsical, relaxed lunch spot that offers homemade “modern European” dishes, fresh and seasonal, cooked by Magalie herself.  Note: It’s only open at lunchtime, and makes for a fine break mid-shopping!

 

lilicup Brussels

 

For sweetness at the end of these amazing meals, duck into Lilicup, the best cupcake emporium in Brussels. Their cupcakes are light and smooth, with every fun flavor imaginable, including Tiramisu, Speculoos, Stracciatella, and Reese (yes, peanut butter with chocolate!).  And, where else could one find a “Cuberdon cupcake”, featuring the signature Belgian childhood dessert specialty?

 

Lilicup Brussels

Now that you’ve had your fill of where to stay and what to eat, your appetite is surely whet for shopping and touring, which are the highlights of next week’s instalment of NewInZurich’s “Destination: Brussels” special travel serial. Stay tuned for Part 3!

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