To appreciate Brussels' gastronomic glory, Richard McComb needed a bolt hole for rest and recovery before the next meal. There are plenty of economy options but our Food Critic opted for classic comfort.
If you fancy a bit of classical luxury on your trip to Brussels then Le Plaza fits the bill perfectly.
The hotel, on Boulevard Adolphe Maxlaan, was built in 1930, taking its inspiration from the grandeur of the Four Seasons George V in Paris.
Today, Le Plaza is privately owned, by a baron, and revels in an ambiance of relaxed glamour. There are high ceilings and sweeping stairways, marble and gilt.
The entry-level traditional bedrooms are classically inspired, with huge beds.
The accent is on restrained style rather than bling.
Top of the tree is the presidential suite, which comes equipped with rooms for your bodyguards. The suite is designed more like a private home than a hotel, albeit a very expensive private home.
In total, there are 165 rooms and 25 suites.
Unusually, the hotel has its own grand theatre, built in an extraordinary style of Spanish, Arab and Moorish influences.
The theatre is classified as an historic monument and its presence may explain Le Plaza’s attraction to generations of showbusiness stars including Maurice Chevalier, Gary Cooper, Josephine Baker and Brigitte Bardot.
Le Plaza does not have its own spa but if you crave some unabashed “me” time then the pampering offered at Aspria’s Royal La Rasante is ideal. The spa – part of a health club and small, very comfortable “chalet”-style hotel – is only 15-20 minutes’ from Le Plaza by taxi, set in one of Brussels’ bijoux suburbs.
There is a list of facial and body treatments but I went for a mind-numbing, stress-busting 90-minute full body massage with essential oils. I can honestly say it was one of the best ever.
After being unknotted, there are saunas (two), a steam room and two pools for flopping about in. Everything, needless to say, is immaculately Belgian – clean and efficient.
The family orientated restaurant does great fresh food, too. I had a healthy Italian-style salad and a fruit cocktail. Well, after all the indulgence Brussels has to offer, I thought my body deserved a break.
Taking train to Brussels
It’s train all the way... the Belgian capital is a lot easier – and less hassle – to get to than you might think.
A combination of Virgin First Class from Birmingham New Street and Eurostar’s Business Premier service ensures you barely notice as hundreds of miles whiz by.
I factored in an (overly) conservative gap between the arrival of my Virgin train at Euston and the departure of the Eurostar service from St Pancras.