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Brussels, Capital of Europe
European Sophistication Personified
Often overlooked as a destination for a short city break or as an essential element of the European Grand Tour, Brussels is perhaps a bit of a Cinderella city, an undiscovered gem. The beauty and elegance is not as “in your face” as some better-known European capitals but more understated and refined. Brussels is above all the epitome of a small European city. It provides a banquet of varied experiences for the discerning traveller who values elegant architecture, vibrant performing and visual arts, interesting museums and exhibitions, gourmet dining and a choice of excellent accommodation including sophisticated five-star or comfortable, inexpensive boutique and family hotels.
As Belgium's capital city and the headquarters of NATO and the EU, Brussels could be termed the “Capital of Europe”. It is home to an eclectic mixture of international civil servants, military personnel and businessmen. Residents and visitors create a colourful collage of languages, cultures and traditions. Brussels’ original character was a mixture of French and Flemish cultures but today it is undoubtedly multinational. Brussels metropolitan has a welcoming resident population of 2 million who, together with many foriegn tourists and expatriates give the city it's unique cosmopolitan feel.
A network of picturesque medieval streets weave around the city centre providing an exciting mixture of historic squares, sophisticated boulevards, monuments, parks and open spaces liberally scattered with bistros, cafés, fine dining restaurants. Cultural pursuits include art galleries, classical and contemporary music, theatre and dance together with more than 80 museums. Night-owls and foodies can also enjoy lively nightclubs and a wide variety of restaurants and cuisines which would adequately serve a much larger city.
A main attraction for tourists and sightseers is the statue of a young boy, the Manneken Pis, located at the junction of Rue de l'Étuve & Eikstraat. Only 50 centimetre high, he stands on a pedestal and produces a constant stream of water into the pan below. Almost all visitors to Brussels will include the Grand’ Place on their itinerary. This magnificent square was the site of a merchant’s market in the 13th century. It is now an architectural triumph of late 17th century public and private buildings. The square marks the evolution and achievements of a highly successful mercantile northern European city at the height of its prosperity. It is an outstanding example of a public open space. The Ommegang pageant is held here every July together with many other concerts and festivals. There is a maze of small streets leading off the square with boutiques, restaurants and typical brasseries featuring the Belgian dish of mussels with French fries, the world-famous “moules frites”.
Brussels international airport is 14 kilometres from the city centre and has a rail link from the terminal to the city centre. There are Eurostar, Thalys and TGV high speed trains from Midi/Zuid station, a short metro or taxi ride from the city centre, providing links to Lille, Paris, Amsterdam and London. Brussels also has an efficient urban transport network with metro, buses, trams and suburban trains linking the city and it's suburbs with other towns and cities in Belgium.
Brussels provides the visitor with a wide choice of hotel accommodation from budget to international 5 star luxury. Most of the larger hotels are in or close to the city centre convenient for the Grand’ Place the with its Baroque City Hall. An example of one of the best hotels Brussels is the Radisson SAS Royal Hotel, not far from the Grand’ Square and close to the Central Station, one stop from the high-speed train station. The hotel has an alleyway link to the Galleries de la Reine which has chocolate shops, luxury boutiques, bars and restaurants. The Meridian, Conrad, Hotel Amigo and Royal Windsor.are representative of the city centre 5 star hotels. If you like a quieter location then the Montgomery and the Stanhope hotels are further away from the city centre. However they are in easy reach via the efficient and frequent public transport services and taxis.
The three and four star hotels in Brussels business district are represented by the boutique Hotel Bristol Stephanie, which has a first-class French restaurant and the Hilton Brussels City in the midst of the shopping precinct around the Rue Neuve pedestrianised precinct where the main international fashion and department stores are to be found. Airport hotels include the Sheraton Brussels Airport Hotel and the Crown Plaza Brussels Airport Hotel.are about 14 kilometres from the city centre. An airport train station under the passenger terminal provides fast and frequent city transfers, together with bus services, hotel shuttles and taxis. There are also rail links to other parts of Belgium.
A more rural four star hotel is the Chateau de Limelette in Limelette, This is a nineteenth century Anglo-Norman residence situated about twenty minutes drive from the centre of Brussels. It is in the heart of Walloon Brabant province within park-like grounds and has the largest balneotherapy spa centre in Belgium. If a country location is your wish then stay at the Hotel Chateau Du Lac, Genvalis about 25 kilometres from the city centre.The hotel is housed in an early 1900's lake-side chateau set in superb rural surroundings.
The majority of Brussels hotels have first-class business facilities, with a number providing fully-equipped conference and meeting facilities. The majority have state of the art health and exercise facilities so both business and holiday travellers have a wide choice of a varied and well-managed hotels In and around Brussels. The accommodation and recreational needs of every type of visitor can be adequately satisfied
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