The hotel’s lobby lounge offers a relaxed, sophisticated atmosphere. // © 2016 Hotel Amigo
Feature image (above): The five-star Hotel Amigo is located in the heart of Brussels and is within walking distance to many of the city's beloved attractions. // © 2016 Michelle Juergen
Edward Leenders waved his hand casually as he told me the most crucial piece of information I’d need to know during my stay at Brussel’s five-star Hotel Amigo.
“Oh, yes, and Beyonce has stayed in this suite,” said Leenders, general manager of the property, as if it were an afterthought.
I nearly did a spit take of my champagne as I processed his words, my mind racing. Did she sit at this very table, in the Armand Blaton Suite, where I was currently being served a private meal? Did she, too, dine on sea bass and Italian wine? What was her experience like?
Though I desperately wanted to spend all night lobbing inquiries at Leenders, I already knew the answer to my last question (if her stay had been anything like mine): Perfect.
Hotel Amigo, a member of The Leading Hotels of the World, truly delivers an exceptional experience. With 173 elegantly appointed rooms, including 19 suites; simple decor; top-quality dining; and a cozy ambiance, the property is the epitome of understated sophistication, and the genial and genteel employees strive to make all guests feel at home.
From the smiling doorman and front-desk staff — who greeted me warmly each time I entered and exited the building, even when they were busy with other guests — to the hand-delivered newspaper and fruit to my room each morning, Hotel Amigo’s welcoming atmosphere gave me a constant sense of deja vu. I often felt like I was returning to an old haunt, though this was only my first visit.
Converted from a former prison in 1957 by the Blaton family (for which the aforementioned suite — the largest and most luxe of the site’s offerings — is named), the property was taken over in 2000 by luxury hotel and resort group Rocco Forte Hotels. Though the hotel has been revamped and refurbished since then, its historical vibes are still present and lend to its old-world European charm.
American travelers — who, according to Leenders, make up about 30 percent of the property’s clientele, the highest in the area — will also appreciate the stylish, artistic touches that make each bedroom unique. Surrealist prints from Belgian artists such as Marcel Broodthaers and Rene Magritte, for example, are featured in many guestrooms (there’s even a Rene Magritte Presidential Suite, which features decor inspired by the iconic painter), and clients staying in the Tintin Suite will find all sorts of prints, characters and collectables from Herge’s famous comic book series “The Adventures of Tintin.” (The items have been donated by Moulinsart, the foundation that oversees Herge’s works).
I was quite comfortable in my 750-square-foot Classic Suite, which features an entrance hallway with a separate sitting room. Guests in this room category enjoy complimentary breakfast, in-suite check-in, personalized concierge services and non-alcoholic beverages and beer in the in-room bar, among other amenities. My bedroom came complete with a view of the city’s historic buildings and cobblestone streets; a walk-in closet and vanity area; and a large bathroom with a tub and separate shower.
Guests in all room categories enjoy king-size beds, complimentary Wi-Fi access, in-room televisions, minibars and Heeley bath products.
But perhaps one of my favorite parts of my stay at Hotel Amigo — which was recently rated as one of the top hotels in northern Europe in Conde Nast’s 2016 Readers’ Choice Awards — was the on-site restaurant, BoCConi, an Italian eatery that utilizes fresh, local produce. Though, unlike most guests, I shared one of my meals upstairs in the Armand Blaton Suite with my travel companions, I was thoroughly impressed with Italian chef Fulvio Pierangelini’s simple but straightforward “vitello tonnato” (cold, sliced veal with a creamy sauce) appetizer, a house specialty, and sea bass main course. Come mornings, the intimate BoCConi functions as the hotel’s breakfast venue, serving an equally delightful spread. (Any place that serves lox in multiple dishes instantly wins my heart.)
Conveniently located in the heart of the city, the hotel offers guests quick and easy access to many of Brussels’ attractions, such as La Grand-Place square; Parc de Bruxelles, the city’s largest urban public park; the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium; and the famous Manneken-Pis statue.
And while most clients probably don’t have a “must book hotels Beyonce has stayed in” stipulation for their travel plans, it certainly doesn’t hurt to mention that, along with Queen Bey, celebrities such as David Bowie, Harrison Ford and Steven Spielberg have stayed at the property. (Those interested in former big-name guests can check out the many autographed photos in Bar Amigo, the hotel bar.)
But, rest assured, all guests receive star treatment — celebrity or not.