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Hotel Review: The Dominican, A Design Hotel, Brussels, Belgium

Hotel Review: The Dominican, A Design Hotel in Brussels, Belgium

Brussels, Belgium
Room 209
July 1-4, 2017
Room Rate: 132€/night

Introduction

When I started doing my research for hotels in Brussels, I had initially booked Brian and I to stay at the Aloft Brussels Schuman property, which is located in the Leopold Quarter area of the city, close to the Parc du Cinquantenaire – a bit of a walk (say, 30 minutes) from the center of the city. A few months before our departure date, I found a Design Hotel in Brussels that became available for booking – smack in the center of the city. I was thrilled – I love trying out different hotels, and Design Hotels are a great way to try something less brand-centric but still earn some SPG points along the way.

The Dominican

Neighborhood: City Center / The Pentagon / Historic Center
Pool: No
Concierge: Yes
Spa: No
Make a Green Choice: No
Bar and Restaurant On-Property: Yes
Room Rate Range: 150€ – 300€

Check In

We had arrived at the hotel just before 1pm. After our delay on last night’s flight, plus the light drizzle that greeted us upon our arrival to Brussels, I was keen on taking a hot shower and unwinding. While our Uber had no trouble finding the hotel, he couldn’t pull up right in front since the road is blocked (this appears to be the norm), so we had to walk half a block from our drop off point. Needless to say, I was cold, tired, and ready to relax.

The lobby area was an interesting design of dark accents with plush velvet furniture and leather seats mixed in with huge windows that brought in plenty of natural light. An interesting look of modern meets medieval.

Just my luck of course, since this is a Design Hotel, full SPG privileges aren’t granted – this means that they let us know our room wasn’t ready and to come back at 3. We popped over to a coffee shop about a 10 minute walk away where we caught up on social media and coffee before returning at Check In time. Luckily, we didn’t have to wait longer since our room was ready upon our return.

Our room was located on the 2nd floor (third floor if you count the lobby). In contrast to the hotel lobby, the floors were very very dimly lit.

Hotel Review: The Dominican, A Design Hotel, Brussels, Belgium

The Room

Our room was located in the middle of the hallway. The room was accessed by a short entryway hallway, which then opened up to the bed and sitting area.

Hotel Review: The Dominican, A Design Hotel, Brussels, Belgium

Overall, the room was pretty small. Though there was ample room to walk around, it was definitely tinier than most European hotel rooms I’ve stayed at – even the W Paris, which I’ve thought to have some of the smaller rooms (though nonetheless one of my favorite properties). Though on the smaller side, the space was not lacking in any standard room amenities by any means.

Now, I swore I booked a King Sized bed room on the SPG website, but when we got there, we found our bed to be more Queen sized. Turns out, it’s two twin sized beds pushed together – not unusual in Europe, but was still a bit surprised based on the room I booked. The bed was for the most part pretty comfortable (a little stiffer than I’d like, but fine), though I found the pillows to be a little too soft and easily flattened.

Hotel Review: The Dominican, A Design Hotel, Brussels, Belgium

The room had a desk area – a little narrow to do more than type away on your computer, but fine otherwise – and a couch area.

Between the storage in the desk and the minibar, all the in-room essentials you needed were fully stocked – from drinks and beer, to a coffee and espressomaker, to wine glasses. Snacks in the minibar were average priced (about 3-4€ for pringles, beer, and chocolate) – dare I say, not unreasonable for a hotel, though the bottled water was unusually pricey (5€) for what it was – you can easily get a huge bottle at a store for less then 1€.

The TV was located right in front of the bed, accompanied by what might seem like an out of place chair, though it proved to be a handy makeshift coat rack when we were too lazy to actually hang ours up in the closet. Hotel Review: The Dominican, A Design Hotel, Brussels, Belgium

Now the bathroom. An interesting space, that’s for sure. Like the rest of the room, it was tiny, but just about everything you needed was in there, and very thoughtfully designed.
Hotel Review: The Dominican, A Design Hotel, Brussels, Belgium

The sink area didn’t have much space in terms of storage, so you won’t be able to unpack all your toiletries for display, though the ledge did extend behind the toilet, so there is room – just very limited and narrow.

In terms of in-room toiletries, you’ll find shampoo, body wash, and lotion – but no conditioner. A major pain point for me since I forgot to pack an extra bottle of conditioner on this trip. Yikes.

There were plenty of extra towels in the room, and a nice rack to hang a towel on for easy access after washing your hands. I was a fan.

You might have noticed there hasn’t been any visible waste bins in the photos. I don’t usually make it a point to photograph these, but our first night there I simply thought there wasn’t one in the bathroom – until I realized it was the little silver circle right under the hairdryer! Once you pushed down on the circle, the lid popped up, and there laid the trash receptacle. It was tiny – so don’t expect to toss any large boxes in here – but just enough to dispose of cotton balls, a tissue, or other tiny bathroom trash.

The shower had a rainforest shower head, which unusually had excellent water pressure (a rarity, it seems, with these type of showers). While I really enjoyed this, I could never really use the shower at full blast since the glass partition between the shower and the rest of the bathroom only went halfway across. This meant that if you took a shower more than a minute long, water would inevitably overflow into the bathroom – and if you took too long of a shower, into the entryway and carpet. Hopefully the hotel will reconsider the design on this, because otherwise I thought the water pressure was excellent.

As I mentioned before, the bathroom did not come stocked with conditioner – just a couple extra bottles of shampoo (which you had to use a lot of to get some suds going) and body wash.

The bathroom was right off the entryway, the doors to which were designed to look just like the closet doors – blink and you’ll miss it. 
Hotel Review: The Dominican, A Design Hotel, Brussels, Belgium

The closet was average size, and held a basic ironing board and (well) iron. The space also doubled as a luggage rack – as one might assume from the raised ridges at the bottom of the closet.

Also camouflaged was an extra storage space – hidden right behind the light switch panel. Opening up the door revealed folded bathrobes, slippers, and the safe.

In short – despite its size, the room was well-appointed and thoughtfully designed. Everything had its place in this compact space, but was not lacking in terms of amenities (though I could have done with a better shower screen). One point though – while everything looked new and trendy, the space felt very much form over function –  the bed was not particularly luxurious, and the sitting bench didn’t feel particularly well-cushioned. At the price point, I’m certainly not expecting the extravagance at a St. Regis, (in fact, I think for what I paid, everything was as expected) though I thought it was worth mentioning.

Hotel Appearance

As I’d mentioned, the hotel was full of dark, romantic touches, and at night the bar area really came to life. The hotel was on the smaller side, and everything felt very cozy and personal. Even the exterior of the hotel felt quaint and personal – a row of cafe tables lined the outside, so very inviting on a gorgeous summer day for hotels to perch and people watch.

Even the business center was designed in theme – a dark space with a couple computers on high desks. It felt more like the way I would design my study rather than an impersonal hotel business center.

Overall the hotel was beautifully designed – a little dark for my liking, but the spaces felt warm and inviting.

Location

As I’d mentioned, I’d selected this property based entirely on its central location – in terms of seeing the city, everything is very close and walkable. The highly trafficked tourist area – the Historic Center – is fairly small and easy to see in an hour or so by foot. This are is crowned by the Grand-Place, a square lined with gorgeous architecture, restaurants, and nearby chocolate shops. You’ll find iconic buildings like the Town Hall and the Museum of the City of Brussels here. The hotel is a quick 5 minute walk from here.

The nearest metro stop (which I imagine you’ll only need to use if you decide to visit another neighborhood, like the Parc du Cinquantenaire in the European Quarter) is the De Brouckere stop,  which is 3 minutes away. If you’re looking to take a trip to a nearby town, the train station (Gare de Bruxelles – Central) is only a 7 minute walk away.

That being said, the area immediately surrounding the hotel is a little dull – filled mostly with office buildings (and an Opera house – La Monnaie De Munt –  which never seemed particularly busy during our stay). Though we tried a couple restaurants right outside the hotel, I’d skip these and walk a few more minutes (in any direction, really) for a more interesting find.

L-R: Grand Place, Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert, Parc du Cinquantenaire, Bruxelles Central Train Station

The Takeaway

If you’re in Brussels for a quick stay (and looking to earn some SPG points in the process), this hotel is a great option. Centrally located to a lot of the things you’ll need want to see and do (and eat, like chocolate). The rooms are smallish, though thoughtfully designed with the basic amenities a hotel guest would need. Some of the design and furniture feels a little cheap though flashy (a little disappointing in contrast to other Design Hotels like the Gramercy Park Hotel), but still trendy, upbeat, and in theme with the overall hotel look. A good choice if you’re trying to stay in the central part of Brussels, especially at the price point.

Hotel Appearance: 9/10 – Nicely decorated, looks modern and updated, though focus seems to be on form over function (ie looks over quality).
Room: 8/10 –
Nice, cozy room, lovely design elements, though overflowing shower really put a damper on my stay, so to speak. 
Staff: 7/10 –
Friendly and accommodating, though not remarkably service-oriented, I have to say. 
Location: 9/10 –
Walking distance from lots of the local sights, and close to the train station if you’d like to go town hopping. 
On-Site Amenities & Hospitality Services: 6/10 –
While the property is very nice, there wasn’t much in terms of extras on the property. A concierge was available to assist with reservations and the like ,however. 
Overall Rating: 39/50 (78%)
★★★★

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