Old-school charm makes Hotel Amigo the ideal Brussels base – Hotel Insider

Elegant decor and exceptional service explain why this is still a flagship property in the Rocco Forte portfolio

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Hotel Amigo has long established itself as the place to stay in Belgium’s cosmopolitan capital, not only for chic travellers, but businessmen, politicians, royalty and celebrities.

Sir Rocco Forte is celebrating the 25th anniversary of his worldwide collection of luxury hotels and the historic Amigo, one of his first, is still a flagship for the group today.

The welcome

The hotel lobby. Photo: Hotel Amigo

While the hotel’s forecourt is always busy with tourists trooping past en route to the Grand Place, taxis queuing up to drop guests and valets parking cars, the friendly doorman immediately takes my luggage and whisks me inside, where the lobby is an oasis of calm.

The elegant, restrained decor features a mix of antique Flemish wall tapestries, African sculptures and modern Belgian art, while the floor is covered with arresting 17th-century black paving stones, hinting at the building’s five centuries of history.

I arrive just before check-in but am only asked to wait 15 minutes, enough time to sip a coffee and nibble a traditional Belgian speculoos ginger biscuit in a comfy designer armchair in the adjoining A Bar.

The neighbourhood

At the entrance to Brussels’s emblematic Grand Place, encircled by opulent medieval guild houses and the towering Gothic town hall, the Amigo is at the very heart of the city, a couple of minutes walk from the must-see Mannekin Pis statue and the fashion boutiques lining the 19th-century glass-topped Galeries Royales arcade.

Restaurants, cafes and bars are everywhere, but be aware that the city parties late, so the narrow streets surrounding the hotel are packed with revellers even after midnight.

The room

Charming details in the Tintin suite. Photo: Hotel Amigo

My room is spacious and comfortable, with modern, minimalist decor offset by small whimsical figurines of the mischievous characters from Belgium’s famed comic strip, Herge’s Adventures of Tintin, as well as distinctive artworks by surrealist painter Rene Magritte. There’s a well-equipped marble bathroom and a free shoeshine service.

The service

This is definitely an old-school hotel where the service is exceptional, beginning with genial concierge Haluk Sahin, who has been here for 36 years and is a mine of information, to the charming Italian waiters of Boccone and the ever-attentive housekeeping staff.

The scene

While the Amigo’s restaurant, cafe pavement terrace and bar are always buzzing, the physical limitations of a compact, city-centre building on the site of a 500-year-old prison mean that guests must make do with a simple gym because there is no space for a pool or a wellness spa.

The food

The tonnarelli cacio e pepe with red prawns at Boccone. Photo: Hotel Amigo

Eating again at the Amigo’s signature Italian Boccone restaurant after a long gap, I am impressed by the creativity of the cuisine and the attentive service. It is clear that significant efforts have been made to improve quality and instil an authentic Italian character.

All the waiters are from different parts of the Italian peninsula and chat away to each other in Italian. Chef Igor Rosi has banished any Belgian dishes from his menu and his spaghetti cacio e pepes is cooked to al dente perfection, while line-fished North Sea turbot is deliciously paired with crunchy artichokes from Puglia.

Rather than classic Sunday brunch, the restaurant serves Il Pranzo della Domenica (€69), a gargantuan buffet featuring freshly-cooked pasta and risotto, seafood and vegetarian dishes and to-die-for desserts.

Highs and lows

In terms of location, I cannot think of any place I would rather stay to make the most of being right in the centre of Brussels. It is perfect for sightseeing, shopping and eating out. That said, in the brave new post-Covid world, tourists are arriving en masse, so be prepared for teeming crowds that fill surrounding streets and pack even the Grand Place to bursting.

The insider tip

When you check in, sign up – it's free – to become a Rocco Forte Friend, because of the benefits is a late, 4pm check-out upon availability.

The verdict

Views from the Grand Place suite. Photo: Hotel Amigo

Decorated in her distinctive style by Rocco Forte’s sister, Olga Polizzi, fashion, art and design are the hallmarks of this luxurious but very discrete property. The Amigo has become a genuine Brussels landmark, perfect for sophisticated travellers and chic locals dining out. I have been visiting Brussels for many years, testing creative and luxury hotels all over the city, but given the choice, I would always choose to come back here.

The bottom line

A classic room starts from €350 ($347) and suites from €1,100. Breakfast is extra, but is a sumptuous buffet. Check in from 3pm, check out by midday; www.roccofortehotels.com

This review was conducted at the invitation of the hotel during the global coronavirus pandemic. It reflects hotel standards during this time. Services may change in the future

Updated: November 04, 2022, 6:02 PM
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