Who goes there?
Home to great fries and good chocolate, you’d be mad not to visit Belgium at least once in your life. Lady Gaga recently spent a cultural weekend in Brussels, staying at the super luxe Steigenberger Wiltcher’s – perhaps the grandest hotel in the city. It has everything you need for a memorable few days, although her suite will set you back around £4k a night. Ouch! Fellow singer/actor Jared Leto was in the city a few months ago – but you don’t need to be bona fide Hollywood royalty to visit.
What to do…
Grand Place is the city’s main square and it’s lined with the most fantastically grandiose, ornate buildings – wander around, take some snaps and people watch from a nearby café. Manneken and Jeanneke Pis are two of Brussels’ most famous statues. Manneken Pis is the older of the two, the original being placed in 1619, while Jeanneke Pis is a newer bronze statue that’s been around since 1987. Be sure to check them out, you won’t be disappointed. For a little more culture, take a trip to
the Horta Museum – a gorgeous building that celebrates the life and work of the Art Nouveau architect, Victor Horta. Or visit the famous Atomium, a cool museum housed in a huge ring of silver atoms – there’s even a restaurant near the top.
Belgium is famous for all the good stuff – chocolate, waffles, fries, beer, the list goes on… Get your fries in a paper cone from a genuine frituur (chip shop) covered in aioli or Andalouse sauce, yum! For waffles, avoid any of the crazily overpriced places near the Grand Place.
Instead, head to Belgaufrecuy, a little chain that’s actually surprisingly good and, more often than not, found in the metro stations. For something a little more substantial, try Flemish stew – beef cooked slowly in Belgium beer. You’ll find a tasty version at 9 et Voisins or for a to-die-for selection of delicious Belgian meatballs, there’s only one place to go – check out Balls & Glory.
Café La Brocante is a friendly place with a huge selection of craft beers, located near the flea market, it’s a good place to have a quick lunch before you check out the stalls. If you want something a bit darker and cosier, try La Porte Noire, this very cool cellar bar has over 100 beers to choose from. If you’re avoiding alcohol, book onto a chocolate course at Laurent Gerbaud Chocolatier, you get to make your own and they also serve some of the best hot chocolate around.
For stylish rooms, book into the Atlas hotel, which is walking distance from all the main sites. Rooms start at £98 a night, so it’s pretty good value for such a central location and breakfast is included – result!
On a budget? There’s no need to slum it. Book an entire duplex in a heritage-listed house, right next to the Grand Place, for only £62 a night (from airbnb.com).
Cute rooftops and colourful lighting at the Grand Place
Check out the elegant Art Nouveau Horta Museum
The Jeanneke Pis statue is a must-see