When we embarked on our discovery of art nouveau Brussels I must admit that hotels did not cross my mind. Not sure why, but I mostly associated art nouveau with grand Brussels houses. Less so with functional hotels.
This misunderstanding was soon cleared up when we visited the Crowne Plaza Le Palace Brussels. Surely you know the hotel? Rising high above Place Rogier (which seems as if it has been in construction forever!), the hotel is probably one of the first landmarks I noticed when settling in Brussels.
Building started in 1908 and like all grand designs, the hotel construction was a major novelty for Brussels. Imagine: all 400 rooms were given their own bathroom! And individual air conditioning. The rooftop terrace offered 2800sqm party surface. The wine cellar cooled 7000 bottles. In the roaring 20’s and 30’s the hotel shared the same management as the Clardige in Paris, the Negresco in Nice and the Ritz in Madrid. Georges Simenon leading character from ‘Le Locataire’ resides at Le Palace. The 1958 World Expo brings with it more fame and glory to the hotel. Brigitte Bardot, Orson Wells, Grace Kelly (already Princess of Monaco) all reside at Le Palace in Brussels. Swarovski designed the crystal chandeliers in the ballroom. Oh the beauty of the golden ages!
Can you tell I am a history buff? I love to discover the quirky details and hidden secrets of Brussels.
You wonder what happened next? Well the 70’s and 80’s modernisation happened. Competition started in the hotel business. Crowne Plaza Le Palace became a budget hotel, loosing its lustre and glory. Then, as business goes, it was bought by another conglomerate and slowly it started building on its glorious past to step into the present.
Which brings me to our visit!
We had the opportunity to visit the hotel and enjoy lunch on their urban outside terrace. The hotel? What you expect from a building with this much history: grand, with a touch of old-fashioned history and a lot of invisible modernity to it. No, the hotel is not the cozy/loungy/hostel type. But sometimes, really, don’t we all want lushness and to be treated a bit like royalty (hint: Princess Grace) rather than like a (hipster) best friend?
Our lunch was delicious. The menu is reasonably short (which in all honesty I think is a good thing, as way too many restaurant stretch themselves too thin trying to offer everything under the sun) and the choice of wine very decent.
I was sorry to see that so many tables were empty on this glorious sunny day. But as any work in progress – both around the hotel on Place Rogier as well as the hotel itself – it takes a bit of time to open the doors and step in. However, if you are in the neighbourhood, seriously, give the Crowne Plaza Le Palace lunch a try. Their burger is top notch!
Once lunch finished we strolled a bit more around the hotel. I loved discovering the Grace Kelly room, listening to the tips the hotel staff gave us to discover more of Brussels, the engagement of younger residents (and not so young) on instagram and so on …
All in all I have to say I was happy to discover Crowne Plaza Le Palace and although we went for a simple lunch, we were transported to glorious times past and a hint of the bright future ahead. Beautiful historical past always wins in my book.
I would like to extend our thanks to Crowne Plaza Le Palace for inviting us to discover their restaurant and hotel. Disclaimer: as always, all opinions written are our own.
Let’s keep in touch!
You can also find me tweeting at @onfoodandwine, snapping away on Instagram, snapchatting as @onfoodandwine or pinning like mad on Pinterest. To keep up to date with the latest posts like On Food and Wine on Facebook or follow uson Bloglovin. Or sign up for email alerts up on the right.