My secret life: hotel room before the renovation 


My secret hotel: Le Berger


A hotel where couples once rented rooms by the hour has been restored. But what will people make of it?


Here in Brussels, it often feels more like 1952 than 2012. Every new cafe that opens seems to be a nostalgia fest. Much of the retro style is concocted by Frédérik Nikolay, but the latest  of Belgian grandmother style was financed by the people behind The White Hotel on Avenue Louise.


The hotel Le Berger was built in 1933 as a "rendez-vous hotel" where couples could rent one of the 50 rooms by the hour. "This was a place that kept many marriages together because it allowed people to sleep with a different lover," said Fredy Martens, who ran the hotel from 1965 until a few years ago.


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No. 321 in The 500 Hidden Secrets of Brussels


My secret design hotel: Pantone

The Belgian designers Michel Penneman and Oliver Hannaert has transformed a dull 1970s building on a leafy square near Avenue Louise into a gorgeous design hotel. They came up with the inspired idea of basing the interior design on the Pantone system of colour classification. So there are bold colour accents throughout the hotel. The floors are identified by seven distinctive colours, the rental bicycles come in three colours and the shop sells Pantone mugs and T-shirts. The roof terrace is a sublime space with scattered bean bags. Where else in the world could you sip a cocktail based on Pantone colour number 12-0435?


No. 401 in The 500 Hidden Secrets of Brussels


Pantone Hotel

Place Loix 1

St Gilles


My 5 secret

love nests


01 Dominicain »

The stunning Dominican occupies a former 

monastery behind the Monnaie opera house. The rooms have a cool urban look that contrasts with the messy building site on the opera house square. The bar is a luxurious place for a drink before heading to see one of La Monnaie's performances.


No. 386 in The 500 Hidden Secrets of Brussels



02 Aloft »

The coolest place to lay your head in the Europen Quarter, Aloft is designed in a raw industrial style, with exposed pipes in the lobby and small but efficient bedrooms. The breakfast 

bar is a bit tricky to use, but the management have promised to change it. 


No. 404 in The 500 Hidden Secrets of Brussels


03 Stanhope »

Here is a hotel to wallow in English-style comfort. Formerly a series of town houses, it has been tastefully converted into a comfortable retreat on the edge of the European Quarter. The bar is in the style of an English library complete with a blazing fire and painting of a dog.


No. 388 in The 500 Hidden Secrets of Brussels


04 Concept »

This little hotel is located above a chocolate shop on the Grand'Place. What could be more romantic? The attic room is a gorgeous hideaway under the 17th century oak beams. 


05 Le Dixseptième »

The former 17th century home of the Spanish ambassador to Brussels has been turned into a discreet hotel with 24 rooms. The interior is a warren of corridors and staircases while each room has its own charm.  


No. 389 in The 500 Hidden Secrets of Brussels


My secret



Das Park Hotel, Austria


Say no to boring hotels


The people behind the website Unusual Hotels of the World were in Brussels recently to check out hotels with a difference for their next guidebook.


Steve Dobson, who co-founded the site, wants to encourage people to sleep in weird hotel rooms rather than corporate boxes. "I want to tell people that they don't have to stay in boring hotels," he explained. "They have a choice."


The website lists an inspiring selection of hand-picked hotels, each one, according to Dobson, with "a story to share." You can sleep in an upside-down hotel room in Berlin, a waterfront crane in the Netherlands or a concrete sewage pipe in Austria. "I want people to stop staying in boring hotels," Dobson 


Marie-France Plissart

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