When we first started planning our summer getaway to Europe our main intention was to visit Amsterdam. However, when we found relatively cheap tickets to Paris we decided to fly there instead and make our way up to the Netherlands. Belgium was meant to be nothing more than a pit stop on the way to our final destination. But this little gem sandwiched between Western European behemoths like Germany and France took us completely by surprise.
I can confidently say that one of the reasons we enjoyed our spell in Belgium so much was because of our digs there. We spent one night at the Brussels Motel One, a budget designer hotel chain founded in Germany. Now I completely understand if that sentence may have left you reeling. A budget hotel and a designer hotel all rolled into one? Is that even feasible? The Motel 1 proves beyond a doubt that this is indeed possible.
Just a few minutes walk from the Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula, the Motel 1 already has an edge with its excellent location. Balanced on a sloping street, the Motel 1 has an unassuming but welcoming facade.
Walking through their large glass doors felt like stepping into a parallel universe. Gone was the hustle and bustle of the busy city street outside. Instead we were enveloped in a cocoon of tranquility.
I was bowled over by their gorgeous chocolate brown and turquoise decor. Anyone who knows me will know that the color blue in any of its variants happens to be a personal favorite. But even if I weren’t besotted with the color, I would love to shake hands with their supremely talented designer who took two poles-apart colors and expertly blended them to create a truly beautiful hotel. The warm chocolate hues with slate grey and caramel accents made for an intimate and welcoming atmosphere perfectly complemented by the vibrant strokes of bright turquoise.
There was a large, cozy lounge area to the right of the entrance and a buzzing in house bar on the left with plenty of comfortable seating scattered around. Check in was completed in the blink of an eye and Ismael was a breath of fresh air with his cheery disposition and excellent suggestions for city sights and eats.
It was truly a surprise to realize just how big the hotel really is. With over 50 locations dotted all over Europe, it seemed highly unlikely that such a large chain concept could create an intimate, homely atmosphere. But that is exactly what the Motel 1 has succeeded in doing. We never once felt the small-fish-big-pond syndrome and the staff seemed thoroughly capable of handling the large volume of patrons who flow through their doors daily.
Upon check in we were excited to find that we had been upgraded to a larger room. And what a room it was! A deliciously inviting bed with luxurious bed linen cheekily dared us to leave its comfy confines. The large flat screen TV with a multitude of channels tempted us to lounge around for a while. There was sufficient storage space although be warned that there are no safes in the hotel so you may have to get creative with storing any valuables.
The attached bathroom was a sleek, modern marvel.
But the crowning glory of this room was undoubtedly our own private balcony replete with two deck chairs and a birds eye view of the city. It felt wonderful to wake up in the morning and not even have to leave our bed to drink in that view. It was a pity that there were so many construction cranes dotting the landscape but even they could not mar the beauty of all that lay spread out before us.
I could have spent an entire evening lounging in those chairs, sipping a glass of wine (or should I say beer?) in a toast to Beautiful Belgium.
Have you ever tried a designer hotel like the Motel 1? Would you consider staying at such a place?