The moment I know that I need to travel to Brussels, Belgium’s capital city and the chocolate capital of the world, the first thing I do, without any hesitation, is make a reservation at The Dominican. My train tickets can wait, my dinner plans are often a last-minute affair, but in Brussels I will lay my head nowhere else than on the plump feather pillows of my favourite hotel.
My enduring love affair with The Dominican has flourished over several years and still my passion has not once wavered. I don’t recall the exact moment when I realised it had captured my heart but it was definitely on my first night, somewhere between entering my room to the serene sound of Gregorian chants and then spending the better part of my evening underneath the rain shower. After that, there could be no other hotel for me.
With guest rooms and common areas both styled in a combination of muted neutrals and rich, earthy tones, The Dominican’s contemporary furnishings, soaring ceilings, and cloisters designed around a tranquil inner courtyard, pay homage to the former Dominican Abbey, a Roman Catholic religious order, which stood on the site during the 15th century.
I imagine the rooms are now more seductive than 15th century-sparse. The carpets are plush and feature designs inspired by the Dominican Abbey Order, the beds are spacious with feather duvets and pillows to see you off into sweet dreams, and one of my favourite touches – a Nespresso machine in every room. I have only to open my eyes, emerge from my warm bed, and choose between Ristretto or Roma before the familiar smell of coffee fills the room and the taste hits my lips. In that sense, The Dominican really is my home away from home.
And what more could I ask for? A long list of well-made cocktails is always welcome and that at The Dominican’s Lounge Bar is so robust that I have yet to work my way from top to bottom. Although I must confess that it is such slow going because I return nearly each time to one of my favourites, the Old Fashioned, made by muddling sugar with The Bitter Truth Aromatic and Orange bitters, adding a generous dose of Sazerac rye whisky, and garnishing with a citrus peel.
After a cocktail or two to start the evening, and perhaps a delectable dinner of coq au vin in the Grand Lounge, the city of Brussels is quite literally at my doorstep. The Dominican is a short walk from the central square, Grand Place, and is located just behind the striking neo-classical theatre, dance, and opera house, La Monnaie.
La Monnaie was built between 1695 and 1700 and was at the time lauded as one of the most beautiful theatres outside of Italy. If you are interested to go behind the scenes and discover more about its history, guided tours are available in English, Dutch, and French every Saturday at noon from September to June. But to appreciate the space and acoustics of La Monnaie in all their glory you have only to look at their calendar and select which opera, concert, or theatre performance sounds most inviting.
After an evening spent enjoying the sights and sounds of Brussels I find nothing more inviting than drifting off to sweet dreams at The Dominican.
Address: Rue Léopold / Leopoldstraat 9, 1000 Brussels, Belgium
Telephone: +32(0)2 203 08 08