I’ve never been a big believer in labels. I refuse to be boxed into “luxe traveller” or “budget traveller;” you can’t typecast me as a culture traveller or adventure traveller. I like to dabble in a range of global experiences. There’s nothing wrong with variety in life and when I travel, I pride myself on just that.
If I’m after some relaxation at a beach resort, then I dig deep in my pockets for a bit of pampering. But when it comes to European city breaks, I’m seeking good locations with easy access, comfort , cleanliness, a safe and a decent shower.
The Park Inn by Radisson, Brussels
I’ve often booked mid-range hotels in these situations though frequently smaller independent establishments so I wasn’t sure quite what to expect when I arrived at the Park Inn Express Midi in Brussels…..but I squealed with delight when I got my answer:And that was how my experience with the #parkinnexpress challenge began – an immediate emphasis on friendly customer service and a welcome gift, including two luxury Belgian waffles, Belgian chocolate (clearly they know me well) and even a beer for the lonely Pumpkin sitting at home waiting for me.Over the next couple of days, I was pleased to say that aside from ticking all my basic requirements, it actually had plush interiors, well-equipped rooms and an impossibly convenient location opposite the Gare du Midi station. They’ve managed to take the concept of a mid-range chain hotel and turned it into a chic, elegant experience with the sincerity and warmth that typically observed in family-run hotels.In its short existence thus far, the hotel has already undergone a refurbishment with a focus on art deco interiors, the rooms decorated with mirroring patterns of colour swirls on the ceilings and carpets and an almost Yuletide colour scheme of green and red on different floors. Business rooms all come with robes and slippers and are slightly more spacious but for a European city hotel, all rooms are surprisingly airy. We were grateful to have been given the largest rooms in the hotel with a sloping roof window and I certainly wasn’t complaining when I awoke to this view the next morning 🙂It also had tea and coffee making facilities (irrelevant to me as it’s not a morning ritual of mine but I have put this anecdote in for my Mother, whose primary concern with any hotel booking is the availability of a kettle – you can take the Mum out of India but you can never take a cup of Indian chai away from her!)
The bed was big and comfy and I slept like a log (though I could sleep on an actual log so I’m not the one to talk to about mattress quality or pillow specs!) There are no mini bars so if you are peckish in the middle of the night, a small selection of sandwiches, snacks and drinks are avaialble in the lobby to purchase at concierge (although if it were me, I’d grab a tub of Ben and Jerry’s from the cart just adjacent!)
And for those of you who are disciplined/nutty enough to regularly exercise on your holidays, (1) I am a little jealous of your commitment and (2), you can rest easy that a free mini gym is avaiable as well.What I also rather liked was that aside from a few conventional conference rooms, they have taken some empty space in the way of small rooms and turned them into little business pods where the room can be hired out at minimal cost for small meetings.
Dining at Park Inn, Brussels
Jodie and I dined in the restaurant both for dinner and breakfast as well as enjoying a drink at the bar (apparently Gin and Tonics are their specialty).The menu has a small selection of salads, pastas and burgers. This is decent quality, simple comfort food – enough to fill you after a day’s walking with portions just a smidgen too big for me. Breakfast had a good selection of deli meats, fruits, juices, cooked breakfasts and continental options – the croissants were perfectly warm and flaky and I was more than a bit addicted to swamping them in classic Belgian speculoos spread.
This lovely weekend stay once again confirmed to me why I’m quite content with selecting mid-range hotels for my city breaks but got me rethinking my stance on chain establishments, which I have had a tendency to avoid in the past – I’d certainly happily stay in a Park Inn hotel again.This one had the added benefit of being quite centrally located, allowing easy access into the main city.
Disclaimer: I was a guest of Park Inn by Radisson hotels as part of the #ParkInnExpress Callenge but I remain, as ever, an opinionated little lady and all views, good or bad, are entirely my own [and no amount of free waffles could persuade me otherwise]