Le Dixseptieme

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 17 December, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 17 December, 2002, 12:00am

Where? In the historical heart of Brussels, close to the Grand Place, a huge cobbled square flanked by 17th-century guild houses.

Is the hotel similarly olde worlde? Built at the end of the 18th century, Le Dixseptieme's impeccably restored interior includes two grand salons decorated with crystal chandeliers, carved wooden medallions and trompe l'oeil paintings. Sounds terribly tasteful. And that's before you get to the spacious guestrooms, reached via a magnificent oak staircase and named after famous Belgian painters such as Bruegel and Magritte. Arty, then? Each of the 24 rooms and suites come in different shapes and sizes (some on two levels and others with tiny terraces), and have classic 18th-century features such as whitewashed walls, wood panelling and exposed beams. Decorative fireplaces and marble bathrooms are standard.

Any individual touches? Every room has its own distinct theme, with styles ranging from modern minimalist to fabulously frou-frou. Sumptuously swagged four-poster beds dominate the suites - located at the top of a winding Louis XVI staircase - and many rooms overlook a courtyard garden, which has been designed with Zen-like attention to detail.

What else is there to do? As well as being located close to the city's museums and art galleries, the hotel is also a stone's throw from the Galeries St Hubert, an architecturally sublime shopping arcade awash with expensive boutiques. Such as? Aside from old-fashioned retailers selling lace, gloves, hats, bags and jewellery, there's also confectioners Neuhaus, purveyor and inventor of praline in 1912. Talking of food . . . Although there's no restaurant at the hotel, there are numerous excellent ones nearby. For a true taste of Belgian cuisine, try the national dish - moules frites (mussels and chips) - washed down with a pint of Hoegaarden beer.

Anything else we should know? Brussels is famed for its atmospheric yuletide fairs, so try to arrange a pre-Christmas visit.

Studio US$150-$170 (HK$1,200-$1,300); Junior US$230-$250; Executive US$310-$330; Superior US$380-$410. 25 rue de la Madeleine, 1000 Brussels, Belgium. Tel: [32 2] 502 5744; ww.ledixseptieme.be