“It’s a particular city in an interesting country,” journalist Derek Blyth says about Brussels. “You might not fall in love with it immediately, but if you know where to go, it will be a very positive experience.”
THE GRAND PLACE
“A classic, but always busy, so to really appreciate its beauty, visit it at an unusual hour, like before breakfast. It’s a welcoming and relaxed square and seems to have a calming effect on people. There are no signs telling you what you can and cannot do, an illustration of how tolerant Brussels is. The lovely buildings are not spoilt by advertising and what I like is that you can see how much good living matters to this city. The square is all cafés, restaurants and chocolate shops.”
BUSINESS FIRST Take your time to admire the ‘Brouwershuis’, a 17th century Guild House, home to the Association of Belgian Brewers and a unique venue for meetings and events in an historic atmosphere.
Grote Markt 10, www.maison-des-brasseurs.be
BREAKFAST AT MOKAFE
“If you are not having breakfast in your hotel, try Mokafé, a typical Brussels address, popular with locals and people working in Brussels. They serve traditional dishes for breakfast, lunch and dinner.”
BUSINESS FIRST Also in the Royal Saint-Hubert Galleries, and 30 seconds away from Mokafé, is Theatre de Vaudeville, a 19th century theatre and perfect location for dinners and receptions.
Koninginnegalerij 13, www.chouxdebruxelles.be
SAY HELLO TO BRUEGHEL
“Brussels has an amazing variety of museums. It’s not difficult to find one that will interest you, whether that is modern art, comic strips or musical instruments. If it’s your first visit, why not go to the Museum of Fine Arts and get to know one of the most famous and most Belgian of painters, Pieter Brueghel? He didn’t paint kings and aristocrats, but the people he saw around him. His work is dedicated to fun and pleasure and also a bit chaotic, just like
BUSINESS FIRST The Fine Arts Museum is a perfect location for large gala dinners and cocktail receptions.
Regentschapstraat 3, www.fine-arts-museum.be
THE MAROLLES, BRUEGHELS STOMPING GROUND
“Brueghel got married and is buried in the Kapelle Church in Brussels and is rumoured to have lived in the Hoogstraat, where he raised his equally famous painting sons Jan and Pieter Bruegel the Younger. The Marolles, as this area is known, is quite charming, with an interesting flea market on Vossen Square and lots of lovely window shopping in the antique and furniture stores. It has many bars and restaurants, from traditional to hip. If you don’t mind a busy décor and want a taste of how Belgian beer features in local cuisine, then try lunch at Restobières, with an impressive and original beer menu.”
Restobières, Vossenstraat 9, Restobieres.eu
BUSINESS FIRST Meeting planners can find hidden gems in the Marolles. The Halles des Tanneurs is a great example of industrial heritage and a unique venue for events, for 10 or 1,000 people.
Leerlooierstraat 58, www.hallesdestanneurs.be
“It’s an interesting city because of its diversity. The fact that there is no uniformity is quite charming.”
A BIT OF SHOPPING
“Areas like Louizalaan and Nieuwstraat have all the traditional chains, but if you like your shopping a bit more off the beaten track, then try Dansaertstraat and Kartuizerstraat. Dansaert is known for its fashionista atmosphere, with Belgian classics like Rue Blanche and Annemie Verbeke, and of course Stijl, which sells all the well known Belgian designers. Nearby Kartuizerstraat is slightly more edgy, with concept stores and shops that sell quirky things.”
“If you need some lovely chocolates to take back to your family or office, try Frederic Blondeel, who takes real pride in his product, and the chocolates are handled like jewels. Once chosen, everything you buy is put carefully into a box and tied up with ribbons.“
Baksteenkaai 24, Strostraat 32, www.frederic-blondeel.be
BUSINESS FIRST Laurent Gerbaud is the place for high quality chocolate and exclusive aromatic fruits. In the shop on Ravensteinstraat you can buy chocolates, enjoy a coffee and organise a chocolate workshop in his atelier.
Ravensteinstraat 22, www.chocolatsgerbaud.be
PEOPLE WATCHING WITH SOME COFFEE
“Coffee is served with some ceremony in Brussels. A nice jug of milk, a chocolate or maybe a piece of cake. Classic is the Café Metropole in the eponymous hotel. A more contemporary alternative is the Zebra Bar. It was one of the first cafés to open on the St Gery Square and it helped transform the neighbourhood.”
BUSINESS FIRST Hotel Metropole and its nine historic meeting rooms will add old world allure to your events.
De Brouckèreplein 31, www.metropolehotel.com
“The area around Sint Katelijneplein and the Vismarkt has lots of good restaurants. Try inspiring Vietnamese cooking at Little Asia or go for some of the best fish in town at Vismet, a modern fish restaurant.”
Little Asia, Sint-Katelijnestraat 10
Vismet, Vismarkt, Sint-Katelijneplein 23
INTO THE NIGHT
“The neighbourhood around the Vismarkt is ideal for wandering around at night, with pit stops in lovely bars like Monk and Roskam. The Archiduc on Dansaertstraat is quite infamous for its jazz concerts, cocktails and décor. Just ring the doorbell.”
Vlaamsesteenweg, Sint Katelijneplein, Dansaertstraat.
BUSINESS FIRST Looking for a trendy nightclub? Try Spirito Brussels Club, a dance temple in an old Anglican church or Sett, located on the iconic event and exhibition site of Tour & Taxis. Both clubs can be rented for private events.
Spirito, Stassartstraat 18, www.spiritobrussels.com.
Sett, Havenlaan 86C, www.sett.be