Last week I headed over to Brussels for a trip to the Christmas markets, courtesy of Carlson Rezidor, Eurostar and the Belgian Tourist Office.
I took the Caledonian Sleeper down from Edinburgh and joined the rest of the group in London, where we took the Eurostar over to Brussels. We were travelling Standard Premier so I relaxed in my spacious seat and was served a light lunch and glass of wine while I watched the world go by.
In just over 2 hours we had arrived into Brussels Midi, and jumped into taxis to head to our hotel in the European Quarter. This was the main purpose of our visit – to check out Carlson Rezidor’s new concept, Radisson Red. Opened in April 2016, the Brussels hotel is the first property for the new brand, aimed at Millennials. Techno-types can download an app which allows them to check-in and –out on their phone, order ‘room self-service’ and even use it instead of a key. (The friendly staff are on hand to assist those who prefer to leave their phone at home.)
The hotel is fresh and funky and exceedingly comfortable (especially the beds). The free high-speed WiFi will appeal to those who like to stay connected, and allows guests to stream from their devices to the huge TV.
But we had no time for relaxing – Brussels’ Christmas markets were awaiting! There was fun to be had, and mulled wine to be sampled. The best thing about Brussels’ ‘Winter Wonders’ is that it’s spread out over a 2 km trail, so it’s relaxing and enjoyable and you don’t feel squashed. We headed for the Place Sainte-Catherine and boarded the ferris wheel to get a fantastic view over the city and its lights.
We then walked the cobbled streets, through the Grand Place (which has a sound and light show every evening from 28 November to 4 January) for a delicious meal of moules frites and Belgian beer.
The next morning we visited master chocolatier Laurent Gerbaud to learn the process of making the scrumptious chocolates that Belgium is so famous for. We were asked to try a selection of chocolates of various qualities (ranging from delicious to outstanding…) and then go back to the first one to see the difference. Then it was time to create our own! We had great fun (and perhaps got a little competitive). Chocolate workshops are run every Saturday from 11.30am to 1pm (pre-booking essential) and I’d definitely recommend them; Laurent is very charismatic and his tasty chocolates make a perfect souvenir to bring home.
We had just enough time to check out a couple more of Carlson Rezidor’s portfolio- the four star plus Radisson Blu Royal (with its perfect location close to the Grand Place and ostentatious lobby, it’s a sure-fire winner for the more traditional traveller) and three star Park Inn Brussels Midi (particularly spacious rooms and very handy for the Eurostar terminal) before heading back on our Eurostar.
Our trip was less than 28 hours in total, but certainly worthwhile. Brussels by Eurostar is an excellent option for anyone who is short on time but wants a relaxing break away.
To find out more about Helen’s trip to Brussels or to make a booking call her on 0131 243 8098 or request a tailor-made quote online.