Sandton Pillows, Brussels

The location

The hotel is located on place Rouppe, a stone’s throw away from the Anneessens metro station, a couple of stops from Bruxelles midi (Zuidstation). This means that the city centre is easily accessible, as are various European institutions. In contrast to my previous stays near Rogier, I enjoyed being able to go for dinner on foot.

The hotel’s appearance is modern, but I was struck by two oddities: a sit-down reception, which is nice for the employees, but not so much if you have luggage, and a non-automated door (again, not so convenient with luggage).

The room

My room was on the top floor, with a narrow and slighty smelly corridor leading to it. The first surprise was the TV, which turned itself on when I put the key card in its slot. There was however sufficient space in the room, a free bottle of water, easily accessible wifi and a large and comfortable bed. The bedroom was also very quiet at night. The very small bathroom was more of a let down, especially with the shower’s tendency to leak.

The breakfast

For a hotel which styles itself as a luxury hotel and one of the cosiest hotels in Brussels, the breakfast was a big disappointment. Disinterested employees hover in the background, while you are left with poor quality produce and filter coffee.

The price

At 333 euros for two nights, the price was certainly luxurious. I will have to look for other options in the treacherous world of Brussels hotels.

 

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Radisson Blue Media Hafen, Düsseldorf

The location

Despite travelling frequently to Düsseldorf, this was only my second stay in the city centre itself. I arrived on a very cold day at the hotel, which was the most reasonable offer for seven nights, during the week of a large trade fair. This is probably explained by the fact that this hotel is located in the harbour district, a little bit far out. The city centre is however within easy reach (I had a 30 minute commute each day to get to my meetings, a couple of stops away from the main shopping district, and I enjoyed this opportunity to mix with the locals). The district itself is quite spectacular with high rise modern buildings, the 240 metre high Rheinturm and blocks of fancy flats. Despite the nearby cinema complex, I would say it is a bit lacking in shops and entertainment.

This extended stay also prove the occasion to sample some of Düsseldorf’s cultural offerings, such as the Julia Stoschek collection, on the other bank of the Rhine, the offerings of which on that day were a little bit difficult to relate to, but is located in a residential neighbourhood with some very good looking houses. I can also recommend the art collection of North-Rhine-Westphalia, which houses major works by Kandinsky, Miro and Picasso.

The room

I had booked one of the business class rooms, which proved better value for money in the long run, for it included breakfast. Thanks to a mistake by a receptionist, I was not initially granted one, so I can tell you that both standard and business class rooms look fairly similar, were it not for the Nespresso machine that was to brighten up my stay. When I mentioned the mistake at the reception, they were however quick to deal with it and promptly helped me to move my stuff to one of the vacant business class rooms.

The room itself was spacious enough, with a vey comfortable bed, easy to set up and free wifi, and free water. It was also very silent. On the downside, it proved to be a little bit cold. When I complained, a portable radiator was quickly brought up to my room. The fan also proved to be quite noisy, but in the long run I was able to work it out (it seems the solution is to set the temperature at -3.0° when you do not want too much noise, and +3.0° when you feel a bit cold). I also did not see the twin rooms, but my room offered a very good view of the transparent shower from the main area.

Meals

The hotel offers Italian food in the restaurant downstairs as well as room service. I had the occasion to sample both and service was efficient and friendly in both cases. I would however say the Italian offerings (pasta, risotto) were too salty, while a pork schnitzel ordered on room service proved more satisfactory. Also remember the portions are quite big.

The facilities

There is a sauna on the last floor, which I tried to sample but I did not even manage to break a sweat. Maybe they should consider charging for it and having an employee looking after it.

The breakfast

Served in the restaurant downstairs, this is a fairly honest affair. Cooked options are available; I even found out after a few days that you can order omelettes, fried eggs etc. from the kitchen. I would of course recommend avoiding the filter coffee that staff will try to flog you, but also the espresso on offer in favour of retreating to your room for some Nespresso.

The price

In total, including 7 nights, breakfasts, laundry, two lunches, three diners, the bill came up to 1384 euros. I would not call this fantastic value for money, especially given that I had to argue about the price with the same receptionist who had given me a standard room and claimed breakfast was not included (it is included as part of the business class deal). It is however decent value for money, especially in those weeks when Düsseldorf fills up with travelers on expense accounts. Given the large pool of quality hotels in the city centre, I would also look for other options when I return.

After seven nights, I was eventually happy to leave, especially given that my next stop was going to be in one of my favourite cities, Vienna, at one of my favourite hotels.