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Michele Sponagle

Managing editor

Smitten by hotels ever since she was a kid, hoarding toiletries started early and picked up steam as Michele Sponagle began a career as a freelance journalist. Her globetrotting has taken her to properties in more than 50 countries, from rustic B&Bs to sprawling resorts.

Walk five minutes from this Radisson hotel in any direction and you’ll discover something that has put Brussels on the map — chocolate, Belgian fries, waffles, beer and historic architecture. For anyone interested in exploring what the city offers, the Radisson Collection Hotel, Grand Place Brussels, is an elegant starting point that boasts luxury and modern amenities.

It is a moderately sized property with 282 rooms stacked up over seven stories around a light-filled atrium, fully visible through the panoramic elevators.

Street cred: It’s all about location

The central location of the hotel gives it ample appeal. The tram stop is just two minutes away as is the UNESCO-designated Grand Place, with 17th-century buildings around a huge square dotted with chocolate shops, brasseries and souvenir stores. The property is also close to the Royal Galleries of Saint Hubert, which has upscale shopping, restaurants and Maison Dandoy, famous for its indulgent waffle creations.

Right across the street from the Radisson Collection Hotel, Grand Place Brussels is Wolf Food Market, home to 17 international restaurants, from Syrian to Japanese, to Vietnamese and Italian, plus a microbrewery known for its craft beers and a bar, which makes pretty tasty cocktails and house made lemonade. You can eat there at one of its communal tables or grab your grub and head back to your room.

Who hangs here: Is this hotel for you?

During my stay, numerous conferences were happening in the hotel. It has 18 meeting spaces, so it’s a draw for business events. While the suit types dominated, you could also see plenty of guests who came for a vacation. That is good news on the service front. The staff is adept at handling big groups and multiple requests. Though the hotel can be busy, you get top-notch service.

The straight goods: What’s in the room?

My superior room was lovely and bright with a modern décor. There was a padded bench right next to the windows, a good-sized desk with outlets, bedside lighting, a spot to keep luggage and hardwood floors (which to me are more hygienic than carpeting in a hotel). There was also a roomy cupboard, the basics to make coffee and tea plus a bar fridge.

The bathroom was light and bright with a shower and thoughtful touches like a light-up makeup mirror. Kudos for the amply sized bath sheets.

Bragging rights: What else has it got?

It had everything you might want in a hotel, from laundry services to a fully equipped fitness center and onsite restaurants. The property also offers sustainable stays, which ensure measures to benefit efficiency, planet and people are taken to reduce single-use plastics, energy and water use. It also uses green cleaning products.

Good eats: Cocktails and cuisine

One night, my husband and I ate at the hotel’s Shanghai Kitchen. Its take on refined Chinese cuisine was truly memorable with each dish presented like a work of art. The dumpling options and noodle dishes were divine, full of flavor and beautifully prepared. The black tiger prawns tasted fresh and were served with shredded water chestnuts and green onions. The cocktails incorporated Asian flavors like lemongrass, mandarin, lychee and lime, which made them oh so sippable and satisfying. Attentive friendly service also made it a very special evening.

I love a good breakfast buffet and the hotel had one. It clearly catered to a wide variety of tastes with everything from congee to waffles, baked beans and sausage, plus a good selection of hot and cold options, like yogurt, cheese and meat. Pastries were wonderfully fresh each morning and the coffee was pleasantly potent.

A few of our favorite things: What stood out?

You can’t beat the location. It was central, yet it was quiet and free from street noise. No matter what I was looking for, it was close by including the Belgian Comic Strip Center, designed in Art Nouveau-style by Victor Horta, department stores, bakeries, bars and transportation. Though I had a transportation pass, I mainly walked to explore the town.

I also must give the hotel staff a much-deserved shout out. They were always helpful with answers and solutions ready to share, whether I needed a cab to the train station or assistance with finding hearing aid batteries for my husband.

Parting shot: If we could change one thing

Well, two things to mention…. The room seemed overly hot no matter how low I set the thermostat. A call to the front desk revealed that the AC is turned off in the fall so you weren’t going to get cool air through the vents. The good news? A staff member came to the room and made it possible for the windows to open, which helped make the room more comfortable, especially at night.

I also discovered the room fridge was packed with cans and bottles stocked by the hotel. There was no room to keep my own items cool. I removed a bunch of cans and bottles to free up space. Thankfully, a staff member let us know doing that would trigger charges to the room. I mentioned this to the front desk when I checked out and the charges were removed.

Photos courtesy of Radisson Collection Hotel, Grand Place Brussels

Room rates in July start at EUR 161 (USD 174)

Michele was a guest of the hotel during her stay. The hotel had no editorial input for this review.

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