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CONRAD BRUSSELS:
...a warm welcome and
oversize towels

When you think of cosmopolitan Brussels, you probably think of chocolates and beer and great food.

But it also has some very good hotels. Take the Conrad Brussels, at Avenue Louise 71, opened in 1993. Avenue Louise is a broad, highly fashionable thoroughfare, and the stately Conrad fits right in.

The hotel lobby area is wide and expansive, and it gives the feel of sophistication and luxury (the hotel is rated five stars; Expedia.com rates the hotel between Superior and Exceptional, or 4 1/2 stars).
The exterior of the refurnished building has regained its 19th century elegance.

My quiet room, #519, was spacious (the hotel promotes the fact that it offers the most spacious rooms of any hotel in the city) and featured plush carpeting. It also overlooked the city. There was a large television, a Mr. Coffee machine with a couple of bags of coffee, a tray with a brush, laundry bag, shoe bag, shoe mitt, and an electrical outlet with both 115- and 220-volt sockets.

There was a marble bathroom, robe and slippers, a hi-end Bose Wave radio, and the largest fluffy towels I've ever been wrapped in, measuring 4' x 6'. The room had classic decor and eco-friendly Halogen lightbulbs. A secure key card operated the elevator that featured dark wood paneling and lots of brass and glass.

There was an unbelievable amount of space in the closet for clothes, and a medicine cabinet in the bathroom. There was pull-down bed service in the evening. The bed was comfortable. The accompanying photo was taken in Room #519 while I was there.

The restaurant served a very fine all-inclusive breakfast in the morning with meats, eggs, rolls, fruits, yogurts, cereals, juices and fine Belgian coffee, and more. Friendly service and smiles were noted by the wait staff and the reservation clerks.

The hotel has 269 guestrooms including 39 suites, as well as rooms for the disabled, and of course, non-smoking rooms are available. In fact, there are three entire non-smoking floors in the hotel. For meetings and conferences, there are 15 meeting rooms covering 6,000 square feet.

On TripAdvisor.com one hotel guest wrote,"Classy hotel. Polite and professional front of house staff. Very Good! The bedrooms are very spacious and the king size beds are so comfortable. Only negative point is that some of the bedroom decor was a little tired, however, I did get a cheap deal for the standard of hotel! Worth every penny. "

DINING and SPA AT THE CONRAD
While I wasn't able to dine at the Conrad, I can tell you there is Cafe Wiltcher's with indoor and terrace dining; there's the Loui Lounge & Bar that offers coffee and biscotti, a light lunch or tapas, and mezza or antipasti. There is also a lobby lounge and 24-hour room service.

There is the health club of the hotel, Aspria Avenue Louise, which features a 56-foot-long pool, a gym, sauna, jacuzzi and a spa offering more than 60 treatments. The health club fee is 25 EUR.

The location of the hotel is about a 20- to 25-minute walk from the Grand Place, which is said to be Europe's most beautiful square. Unless it's a pleasant day, I'd suggest a cab which will get you to this area of the city quickly. I did walk to the Royal Palace and the Palais de Justice which is a fairly easy walk from the hotel.

Pricing: Rates will vary depending on the rooms, but I found rates between 389 Eur (for a classic king bedroom or two queen beds) and 564 EUR (for a junior suite with two queen beds or one king size bed). The hotel also offers a Romantic Escape Package that includes early check-in, in-room sparkling wine and breakfast for two, either in-room or in the restaurant.

Overall I enjoyed my quick stay here. The Conrad chain is known for its upscale service, and their Brussels hotel meets these fine standards. Don Heimburger