Europe

Treat Yourself to Brussels

written by | Posted on March 29th, 2012

The city’s most celebrated chefs will perform their magic throughout the year in practically every corner of the city—from Michelin-starred restaurants to markets, from obscure bistros to parks and even on street corners.

Those coming to Brussels to experience tastebud-tingling encounters will find that the city indeed is ringing the meal bell with unprecedented passion. What are some of the events that constitute Brusselicious? Twenty hotels have already eagerly jumped on the chuck wagon to underline “Brusselicious Breakfasts,” a year-long program celebrating the best in pastries, cheeses, breads and produce grown in the greater Brussels area.

Frietkot Walk guides visitors to the city’s renowned fried potato stalls (frite stalls) where Brussels’ famous French fries are traditionally garnished with mayonnaise. Information for the walk may be obtained through the Visit Flanders Information Centers set in strategic locations. This is a whimsical adventure where visitors watch French fry chefs demonstrating the art’s finer touches while sampling different variation of frites.

The Tram Experience (75 euros pp) has a daily 2-hour train ride through Brussels. A stylish train carrying up to 34 food lovers rolls along the rails at twilight as riders feast on creations from Brussels’ Michelin-rated chefs who alternate cooking during the tour.

From April to September, an exhibit of 35 large sculptures paying homage to Belgian food and drink will be on display in Brussels Park. Labeled “Brusselicious XXL,” the exhibit depicts foods like mussels, Brussels sprouts, chocolate and even beer.

There are events planned in the most unlikely settings, like Dinosaur Dinners at the Brussels Museum of Natural Science where diners will enjoy their meals among skeletons from the great lizards.

Brusselicious will culminate Sept. 6-9 when a large banquet is planned around hundreds of exhibits of food demonstrations and tasting parties, while simultaneously showcasing the best products from the city’s fabled beer breweries, chocolatiers, bakeries and restaurants. The event is free.

after the feast, a nap

Booking passage to Brussels offers endless variety and possibilities for travel agents who will find hotels to fit most budgets, ranging from the humble to the sublime.

One of the city’s optimum accommodations is the elegant, 267-room Royal Windsor Hotel, a member of the well-regarded Warwick International collection (from approximately $184 per night dbl to about $438 for small suites). Like Brussels, the Royal Windsor sits in a great location: just steps away from the fabled and historic Grand Place, the fairyland heart of the city.

The hotel is popular with visiting Americans who find its excellent location to be a convenient point from where to begin exploring Brussels. According to Rida Laschan, one of the managers, “At any given time, approximately 20 percent of our guests are from the U.S.”

The hotel unveiled a 4,300-sq.-ft. Grand Place Suite favored by diplomats and its 2-night Romance package ($750 per night) has proven to be highly popular. It includes transportation to and from the airport in a Maserati, champagne upon arrival, free access to the spa, day excursions to Ghent or Bruges, breakfasts and even rose petals on the bed.

Odette en Ville (from about $350 per night dbl), meanwhile, is a charming 8-room hotel at the end of the Avenue Louise, a chic shopping street, where guests will enjoy seclusion and privacy in a remodeled hostelry that looks like it belongs to another, more elegant age.

package it

It’s not easy to find tours exclusively featuring Brussels, since U.S. tour operators generally offer the city only as part of packages that take in other and more popular northern European destinations.

One of the exceptions is Kensington Tours. Its 4-day Brussels Discovery tour (from $1,272 pp dbl, plus air and meals) not only showcases the city’s principal highlights, but may also be customized to the client’s wishes. Accommodations are in the Hilton Brussels City, ideally located near the city center, from where visitors may walk to the old city’s principal sites and may have the opportunity to take part in some of the Brusselicious events. The last day of the tour is spent touring Ghent and Bruges, two of Belgium’s most fabled tourist centers, but Kensington gives clients the option of spending the entire duration of the tour in Brussels.

contact information

Kensington Tours: (888) 903-2001; kensingtontours.com/agents

Odette en Ville: chez-odette.com

Royal Windsor Hotel: royalwindsorbrussels.com