Friday 5 February 2010

Hotel Des Colonies, Rue Des Croisades, Brussels

A keenly-priced, but rather dingy, 100-year old Brussels hostelry, the Hotel Des Colonies is well-positioned for business and pleasure alike. It is just over a kilometre from La Grand Place and a 20-minute metro journey, involving one change, from the European Commission's Berlaymont building. Inside, the long hall leading to the foyer sees little daylight, but still has some period character, such as the ornate mosaic fountain next to the reception desk. You can sit down here on one of the couches and use the free WiFi, which doesn't cover the guest rooms.

Comfortable enough
You get to one of the 97 rooms via the aging lift and the wide, dated landings. The room itself will probably have a window overlooking the gloomy open-air atrium, a wall-mounted television with at least one channel in English and a reasonable amount of space. The furnishings are non-descript and any period features have been stripped out, but the beds are comfortable enough and the rooms are quiet until someone next door runs a tap or has a shower. The cold, clinical and tired bathrooms would be more at home in a hospital.

Daylight deprivation
Included in the room rate is a lackluster continental breakfast in the big dining room, which also has no daylight. The croissants and pain au raisins are good, but the coffee is weak and the orange juice is too artificial and sweet. The buffet also includes some run-of-the-mill cheeses and hams, hard boiled eggs and a lame fruit salad, but no hot food.  Hotel Des Colonies is convenient and cheap, but don't stay here if you like natural light. 5/10