The Hotel Quandary I Seem To Constantly Find Myself In

Filed Under: Hotels

Sometimes I think it’s fun to look at the real life travel planning process, and share how I approach it, because I’m sure I’m not the only one who goes back and forth on this stuff. Specifically, in this post I wanted to focus on hotels. I’m generally a Hyatt and Starwood loyalist, so will typically try to stay at one of their properties when possible, both because I appreciate the elite benefits, and because I’m on the elite hamster wheel, and want to make sure I’m requalifying for status.

In a few weeks I’ll be in Brussels for one night (about 24 hours total — it’s not like I’m landing late at night and leaving first thing in the morning), and I’m conflicted between three hotel options. I’m curious which you would select, because I seem to constantly find myself in situations with similar options, which challenge me to decide between elite benefits, the quality of a hotel, and other benefits.

Option #1: Starwood Design Hotels property

Starwood’s footprint in Brussels is limited. They have an Aloft and Four Points, but unless I’m staying at an airport, I generally avoid those brands, unless they’re the best option by far.

The good news is that there’s a pretty reasonably priced Starwood Design Hotels property, The Dominican. It looks beautiful, and at 127EUR for a one-night stay, the price is reasonable.

The pros? I get what looks like a really cute hotel, and I earn Starwood elite credits and points. The cons? There’s virtually no SPG elite recognition at Design Hotels, so there’s no room upgrade, no breakfast, etc. That’s not the end of the world, as I’m traveling alone and am in a city, where I can easily grab something much cheaper and better for breakfast outside the hotel.

Option #2: Marriott

While I haven’t historically been a Marriott loyalist, I do have Marriott Platinum status thanks to the status matching they offer. Marriott has a few properties in Brussels, including the Marriott Grand Place. The hotel costs a reasonable 137EUR, or 35,000 points, so it’s roughly the same price as the Design Hotel. In this case paying cash is a better value than redeeming points.

The pros? I’ll (hopefully) receive a room upgrade and complimentary lounge access, and I’ll earn points that I can transfer to Starwood. The cons? I don’t earn any elite credits with SPG, and the hotel just doesn’t look as cute as the Design Hotel. It’s tough to stay somewhere like this when you can get a cute boutique-looking hotel.

Option #3: Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts/Virtuoso

American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts and Virtuoso offer some cool benefits for stays at select luxury hotels. Specifically, you receive perks like a room upgrade, complimentary breakfast, and some sort of a property credit. In the case of Brussels, there are two hotels participating — the Steigenberger Wilcher’s, and the Rocco Forte Amigo.

These hotels retail for 169EUR and 259EUR, respectively, and you receive a $100 food & beverage credit for a stay at each property, in addition to the other perks, like a room upgrade or breakfast.

Booking through one of these programs for a one night stay is a phenomenal deal, give the outsized value you get due to the credit being once per stay, whether that stay is one night or one week. Between those I’d probably choose the Steigenberger since it’s 90EUR per night cheaper, and the hotel looks quite nice (if anyone thinks the Rocco Forte hotel is much better and is a “must,” I’d consider that as well, because at the end of the day that’s still a reasonable price for a luxury hotel.

I always have a tough time deciding how to value these one night Virtuoso/FHR stays. The food & beverage credit isn’t worth the face value, so it’s not like I’m going to subtract $100 from the room rate when comparing rates. Would I otherwise eat anything other than breakfast at the hotel? Probably not. Would I probably end up eating there if I had the credit? Probably.

The pros? A room upgrade, free breakfast, a food & beverage credit, and potentially the nicest hotel. The cons? I don’t earn any points or elite credit that I value.

Bottom line

I’m writing this post not because I’m necessarily seeking personal advice here (though I’d love to hear what you guys think), but rather because I think the above situation is so reflective of the decision making process I always find myself in. Hyatt and Starwood both have relatively small global footprints.

In the case of Brussels, Hyatt doesn’t have any property, and the only Starwood property I’d consider is the Design Hotel. Do I stay at the Design Hotel with limited elite benefits but stay credits, do I stay at the Marriott with elite benefits but no (useful) stay credits, or do I stay at an FHR/Virtuoso hotel, with no points or stay credits, but the best experience and benefits (especially given the disproportionate value offered with one night stays)?

I’m leaning one direction here, but before I share that, I’m curious to hear what you guys would do.

  1. I learned fairly early on the benefits of airline elite membership and would consolidate my air travel into Star Alliance to ensure I achieved *Gold status. However, I could never make the same justification for hotels. I’m a big hotel fan and am quite picky about aesthetics, service and location and so I hate to have my choice restricted. In addition, I tended to travel mainly for leisure to different destinations- I enjoy trying different hotels and it is uncommon for me to do repeat visits. As such, I figured out quickly that aligning myself to a specific hotel group made no sense for me as a primarily leisure travel who would spend only around 20-30 nights in hotels per year. As someone who particularly likes unique luxury hotels, there’s no big hotel group that works consistently for me. I like independents, LHW, Preferred Lux/LEGEND, small luxury chains and the occasional large chain hotel. For me, being stuck to a particular hotel group would be more trouble than its worth and be of negative value. That said, I always felt that sticking to a single hotel group and maximizing elite benefits would makes sense if I were a regular business travel going to the same destinations on a frequent basis,

  2. Personally I would probably go with go SPG design as it is cute boutique hotel and it looks very nice and you also earn SPG points and to be honest your stay is only 24 hours and you are alone so how much is a room upgrade, free breakfast worth (not much) also Amex while luxury and great once again 24 hours and by yourself and you earn nothing. Marriot once again how much is the room upgrade etc worth plus it looks a bit bland and generic so infuse some local culture into your stay with the SPG boutique

  3. I’ve stayed at aloft in Brussels a number of times. Very convienent. Their breakfast offer is actually very good for an aloft, and for European continental standards. It’s next to a supermarket and near EU HQ area with some great restaurants. And a bus to airport stops a block away. It’s perfect for a quick 24h stay.

  4. I’ve stayed at that Marriott. It really is just your average Marriott, nothing special, but the location is good, near the train station and Grand Place.
    The design hotel looks cute and good. And yes, in Brussels, any breakfast you can get on the street is infinitely better than a hotel one.
    The Virtuoso/FHR properties dont look as compelling. Yes you get those benefits but it’s not worth even the marginal price difference, imho.
    I’d go with the design hotel for the experience, provided that the location still is close to the Grand Place area, as that is where you will want to be.

  5. PS: Since I got the Citi Prestige card a couple of years back, that has also shaped how I buy. As I primarily travel for leisure, I use the 4th night free at least 4 times per year. This has added up to Around $2,500 in savings for each year I’ve had the card now!

  6. I stayed at an SPG Design Hotel in Hyderabad and I got a suite upgrade, free breakfast, and access to a Platinum Happy Hour with free food and drinks from the poolside bar.

    I recognize that Asian properties are generally more generous than European properties, but it’s always worth politely asking via email. Just because Design hotels aren’t required to offer certain perks doesn’t mean they won’t if you ask or provide it anyway without even asking.

  7. It’s a 24-hour stay. It’s not like you’re on a vacation; screw the cute factor. I’d stay at the Marriott as it’s close to the areas you want to be near and provides you with the points and recognition you ans the rest of us Platinums so crave.

  8. I stayed at the Dominican, and was offered free breakfast and an upgrade as SPG Platinum, last year.

    The gym is small, but cute. There’s a vintage boxing room attached to it.

    I also loved the location since it was walking distance to everything touristy in Brussels.

  9. Marriott, since it’s only a 24 hour stay get your elite status benefits.
    For longer stay I’d pick The Dominican.

  10. None of the bloggers like hotwire. $110 for 4 star hotel in city center (hilton garden inn) which is 89 Euro. Do the math off that to determine how much your “free” breakfast really is. Roughly 50 Euro for the “free” breakfast at the Marriott and a few points. Definitely not worth that to me.

  11. 1) With decent hotel status available at all of the major chains with credit cards, I don’t find it useful to be loyal to any chain. My strategy is to maintain Gold in all of the relevant programs and book based on location, quality of hotel, price, etc. I’d much rather be free to book Four Seasons, Mandarin Oriental, Langham, or other boutique hotels when in a given city than to book the local Marriott, Hilton or Hyatt.

    2) Your decisions will become easier when Marriott and Starwood combine stay credits

  12. I wish you would stay in the Four Points Brussels, so that we could all read about your experience. I stayed there last year. Red. Shag. Carpet.

  13. You should stay at the Courtyard Brussels EU, it’s part of the Marriott group and they are one of their newly designed Scandinavian style propriety. You’ll get the upgrade etc and stay in a more boutique style hotel than the Marriott grand place. It really isn’t your ”normal Courtyard” AT ALL..just look at their rankings (tripadvisor etc etc).
    Plus you’ll be able to test and report that new concept! Their breakfast is outstanding too..loved their fresh waffle machine!

  14. I would stay at any of those, EXCEPT the Steigenberger…it’s too far from the Grand-Place. I’ve always stayed in that area because it’s so nice to wander the cobblestone streets, have a Lindemans Pecheresse outside at one of the restaurants in the Grand-Place and just enjoy the evening! Snag a couple Bruyerre chocolates too. 🙂

  15. Andrew, Henri, Erik and Nathaniel also make good points – for a 24 hour stay, you may as well book an aloft, Hilton Garden Inn, Four Points, Courtyard, etc at lower prices. Not every stay demands a cute or luxury hotel.

  16. Oh I have the same dilemma ever time I book! However of the things I value, earning points probably is not in the top 5. Decor, service, and of course room size (because whatever they tell you, size does matter) are the things I value, as well as location.

    I have also learnt to decode hotel publicity images. That image of the Dominican with the translucent blind drawn, means you overlook a car park, or a factory, or sewerage works.

    Breakfast – for a one night stay – couldn’t care less, but an upgrade or club access for a short stay – that I value.

    My other sources of advice are Luxe Guide, and strangely – The Telegraph UK which has surprisingly candid and detailed hotel reviews. I only use the hateful tripadvisor to find that one negative review that goes straight to the heart of my decision making.

  17. I’m booked at Four Points Brussels this weekend for 4-day stay and it looks all right to me for a deluxe room: large room (35 m square), bathrobe & slippers).. booked it because of the EAME Mastercard deal + CITI Prestige I got 4 nights for price of 2. really good price for me. I’ve stayed at some really good Four Points in EU also the one in Kuwait is posh. I travel full-time and really value robes & slippers and bathtubs…it’s what I look for when booking.

  18. The merger quandary posed by SPG and Marriott is reminiscent of the AA/USAirways merger when prior to full integration you could only get EXP/Chairman’s Preferred status recognition when flying on the appropriate legacy metal. Code shares made it all the more confusing.

    SPG/Marriott reciprocity of status and elite benefits has been a welcome improvement in merger integration. But, the frustration of not having Marriott stays count towards SPG status is annoying and the end result of full integration is a black hole of uncertainty. We are all in that “be careful what you hope for” mode.

    For a one night stay not counting towards SPG status if you choose Marriott, consider you are still early in the race for this year and with your heavy travel schedule one night will probably not prevent you from reaching your nights at SPG goal. Don’t worry about the points or status pick a place you will hopefully enjoy.

  19. Marriott is in a good location and has a large lounge but the lounge is off the lobby in a separate room so no panoramic city views or anything. I received a room upgrade as Platinum.

  20. Having stayed at The Dominican 3 times in the last 4 months, I cannot recommend it highly enough. Amazing boutique property. The staff may seem a little unpolished but they try their best to come across as pleasing, hospitable and genuinely helpful. The courtyard in the evening is the place to be for drinks/coffee or dinner.

  21. There are 5 Marriott group properties in brussels and another 4 under Starwood. There’s no footprint issue whatsoever there other than lacking a true luxury offering like Ritz Carlton or St Regis.

    and you can’t exactly value the Virtuoso as $100 / €81 “cheaper” because you’re still pre-paying that same amount for F&B, which honestly is a LOT of F&B for a 1 night stay.

    FWIW, my own July 30th 1-night hotel “quandry” at Brussels is currently booked at Renaissance Brussels for €84 pre-tax.

  22. I say go with the Marriott. I’ve stayed in a few around europe and the breakfasts and benefits are really so much better then domestic. Marriott Vienna gave me champagne brunch every day as a gold and upgraded me to a huge corner suite.

  23. What about the Hilton?? I stay down at the Hilton and really enjoyed it. I’m an SPG Loyalist but it didn’t make sense in Brussels to stay with SPG. Hilton has a nice breakfast, location is great, got upgraded and they have a lounge.

  24. I would make my decision based on how close I was to SPG elite re-qualification. If I was worried about not making 50 nights this year or ambitiously trying to reach Plat 75 or 100 then I’d go for the DesignHotel. Otherwise, I’d go for the cheaper Amex FHR option. I almost never choose Marriots as even though you get free breakfast and lounge access, the quality of food is typically not worth going out of my way to experience.

  25. I feel your quandary Ben, I feel ya. I vote to stick with your loyalty programs, the points and status you have and maintain with them are so valuable. And if it’s a one night quick stay, you’d be happy to get the stay credit/points instead of the Amex fine resort or chase fine resort property. Especially because hotel food is so hit or miss. Just my 2cents.

  26. @Lucky I stayed at that Marriott a few years ago and it’s a beautiful building right in the heart of the City. I recall that breakfast was included when I was there, and the location is stellar (grand squares, plazas, the palace, Delirium bar district, and the many restaurant-lined alleys). I’d stay there again in a heartbeat.

  27. The Steigenberger hotel is without any hesitation Brussels’ best hotel.
    However I had the chance to stay for a week at the Crowne Plaza and I must say I really enjoyed my stay. The only downside is that the neiborhood of the hotel is pretty boring at night.

  28. I think you pretty much lay out the problem with hotel elite status — how often is it worth the expense to stay “in brand” versus simply buying breakfast from a grocery store/ cafe? You pretty much live in hotels, so the perks of elite status are much more valuable than “normal” folks that can get decent benefits with the mid-tier elite status that comes from credit cards. Being a free agent really opens up a lot of possibilities, and without the need to re-qualify, allows for a simpler assessment of upgrades, late check-out, and breakfast.

  29. None of the above. I just stayed in Brussels at the Hotel Residence Le Quinze.

    Best location, bar none. No services, but the room is fantastic. Unmatched views, super comfortable bed, and nice bathroom.

    And for 24 hours, best location, bar none.

    Breakfast is included at a nearby restaurant as well. Very tasty.

  30. I also stayed at the Crowne Plaza last year (using my IHG free night). While it’s not a luxury hotel, it’s clean, comfortable, and in good repair. And while the neighborhood is boring, it’s a short walk to downtown. It’s perfectly fine for a one night stay.

  31. You like data. Think about how many stays/nights over requalification you want to have, then divide that number by 12 and don’t pass that number per month, on average. I hate giving other hotels stays before I requalify, but if we know we’re gonna be able to requalify, we might as well have some nice off-chain nights along the way (as opposed to all at the end of the year once we know we’re safe).

  32. Aloft Brussels is great, echoing earlier comment.

    On Friday night go have a drink with the Eurocrats at Place Luxembourg. It is a bit of a dead one for the rest of the week.

    Grand Place is a tourist clusterf*** so you will be glad to be a walk away. Its basically Times Square but even more full of Americans.

  33. I’m new to the hotel “elite” game, as I get SPG/Marriott Gold and Hilton Gold with my AmEx Platinum card.

    How often should I expect room upgrades? To me it seems risky to book a lower-category room and then hope for an upgrade. I’ve been booking rooms with lounge access included (I meet with my colleagues there during the day) to not take the risk.. but it also means I have no data points on how often I’d be upgraded if I’d just booked the lower-category room.

    I have made out well in lower-end hotels where there is only one type of room. For example was staying at a Hilton Garden Inn and got a free hot breakfast for me and all my traveling companions. That was a big savings and doing this on a road trip across a few hotels and I nearly earned back my AmEx Plat annual fee!

  34. Brussels is an SPG dead spot since the Sheraton went bust ( but some would say the closure was a good thing, given how miserable it was at the end).
    I use the Aloft for the same reason as a previous poster: cheap ( except when there’s an EU talk-fest in session ( can be as low as €60, as high as €200) and a bit of a bargain when rates are low; convenient, even though a bit out of the centre, the metro is easy.
    The Four Points is barely adequate.
    The issue of it being either/or SPG/Marriott for status nights has dragged on far too long. I won’t make a single night/stay in Marriott 2018 for that very reason.

  35. Thank you Nathaniel for getting the correct answer. Always compare to Hotwire to derive your true incremental cost.

    When faced with this scenario I just flopped at a Best Western near the train station, worked great getting everywhere.

  36. I generally pick hotels based on location. Need lots of good bars, restaurants, cafes, touristy stuff etc. since I usually travel with my wife a good bathroom with double sink would also be a factor

  37. @Lucky Maybe you should wait until next week and see if SPG is still there – today I got a message from Marriot Rewards via FB as follows:

    Next week, we’re announcing some exciting changes to the Marriott Rewards program. We don’t want you to miss what’s next, so tap below and be the first to hear about what’s new.
    (Yes, keep me updated)
    (No thanks)

  38. When I’m traveling a lot, I personally enjoy staying in a room that doesn’t feel like 99% of all hotel rooms. So I say pick whatever place speaks to you aesthetically and doesn’t make you feel like you could be anywhere.

  39. Based on those prices, the Design Hotel. I’m a MR & SPG guy (even before Marriott bought Starwood) and Starwood generally has tighter brand standards and you’ll still probably end up with a nicer room there than a standard Marriott (although the “Grand Place” does make it sound fancier) plus you’ll get the SPG night credit.

    Since you’re there one day, basically, location would be the most important factor to me. All those options will be fine for sleeping.

  40. If I want a nice dinner, I might stay at the Steigenberger. Otherwise, probably the Marriott, unless I really needed the stay/night credit for SPG. Also, stay/night credit for lifetime benefits is likely to be merged upon full integration. Although I like FHR and will stay at FHR properties to get the Food & Beverage credit, I have sometimes been disappointed with the room upgrade. I would rather have a suite at a Marriott than a small room at an FHR hotel. I stayed at one FHR hotel in Australia and got a nice looking but very small room. Was not very happy with it. Before my next stay, I emailed the hotel and said would stay again if got better room ,which they agreed to. Made my stay much nicer. Still, I also like having a lounge which you would not generally get unless you book a club room (if available) with FHR (or with Ritz Carlton).

  41. I’d also add that I don’t see the value for Amex FHR for stays less than a 3-4 nights where you can actually spend time at and enjoy the hotel amenities.

    For your stay? Generally not something I’d consider (although it does look like you’ve found some excellently priced options).

  42. enjoyed reading all the previous comments..I just say FREEDOM..I had enough of this elite games with the hotels! feels great to choose the ones you like..because you like them…no preassure from any qualification requirements or the never ending hunt for staying in great hotels booked through Virtuoso or directly to their elite channels…this is the kind of loyalty I expect from the hotels..

  43. If you’re only in Brussels for one night, do you really even want to feel pressured to spend the $100 food and bev credit? I love FHR rates in some circumstances, but a one night stay in a city in Europe that I want to actually enjoy is not one.

  44. Hey there Lucky,
    I haven’t been to Brussels, but I’ve stayed at the Rocco Forte hotels in London and Rome and loved them. I’ve had friends stay in their Edinburgh, Frankfurt, and Florence, and they all had great things to say about their stays. Best of luck with your decision.

  45. Stay away from the Aloft, except you want to meet lobbyists and eurocrats. It‘s far away from the nicer parts of the city, and the airport bus takes forever. It‘s better to take a train to the city center. The best Hotel of Brussels is certainly the Amigo, not the Steigenberger. And it‘s just some steps from Grand Place. But the Dominican would be my favorite, beautifully designed and also ideale located.
    @Brian: le méridien became the Hilton, and is showing its age

  46. The Hotel Quandary in which I constantly seem to find myself.

    (Ending a sentence with a preposition makes it so cumbersome.)

  47. The Dominican from the choices above!

    Or if you want a chain hotel, I would go for one of the two Sofitel in Brussels, which earn Miles on most airline programs if you’re not a member of the Accor club.

    They are my go to hotels in Brussels

  48. Hi Lucky, Brussels is my home town so I know a bit the city.

    Both FHR properties are well known here in Brussels, the Steigenberger is the former Conrad. The Amigo is more the place to be seen due to his location right next to the grand place. My choice would be between the Steigenberger and the Sofitel Le Louise (which is a virtuoso member and the rates are usually pretty low too)
    By the way, don’t hesitate if you would like a ride between Brussels and CRL as the low cost airport is not well deserved by public transport..

  49. I’ve twice stayed at The Dominican, the first time in 2012. The last time in 2015. Based on the pictures, it hasn’t been renovated. Service was very inconsistent then. The breakfast buffet was good, however.

    There was a Renaissance closer to the European Union quarter that had very good (as in cheap!) rates.

    For something old school, try the Hotel Le Plaza.

  50. I stayed at the Dominican last year, but booked through my company so didn’t get any SPG benefits. I extended my stay by one night using my SPG points. Honestly, the breakfast there wasn’t that great (perhaps I would have liked it better if it was free) and I didn’t get any SPG recognition, so my room was facing an interior courtyard. I considered moving to the Aloft for one night but decided against it.

    I loved the location since it was walking distance to everything touristy in Brussels. Also the lobby bar was nice. But I always enjoy the suite upgrades that come from staying at a SPG/Marriott where my platinum status is recognized, so I would suggest going to the Marriott if its only for one night.

  51. Lucky, I’m actually having the same dilemma, but I’m staying less than 24 hours and flying back to the US the following day (finally trying Brussels Business Class…before they do away with it). I chose the Design property – like others have said, I have from time to time, gotten breakfast and a room upgrade, but even if you don’t, it’s a short stay. The Marriott looks like every other Marriott on earth. Get the credits, save some money and try to enjoy your 24 hours in Brussels.

  52. The Dominican should be an Autograph Collection property, not a Design Hotel or Luxury Collection.

  53. “The Hotel Quandary in which I constantly seem to find myself”

    What a clunky and unnecessary title…

  54. Why not consider Tablet Hotels? They have frninatance the Pantone hotel which is really cheap usually and not far from the city center!

  55. I would go with option #1 unless you plan to spend a lot of time in your room, in which case I would go with #3. Overall I think room upgrades are over-rated unless you are spending all your time in the room. If you like to work out in the hotel gym, I would check those options as part of the decision

  56. Why don’t you just get a life and stop harassing yourself with credit and air miles. There is a great world outside your privileged premium cabin – wonderful honest and kind people – you will never meet such good humans in the synthetic world that you seem so obsessed with.

  57. Yup. I play this game all the time. I am trying to hold onto my Hyatt status but Hyatt is small. So it’s not easy. I have status at SPG/Marriot but if I can find a Hyatt I will go out of my way.

  58. @ paul langley

    ..and you are?..speaking of having a life..what are you doing here then?..bored of your mundane life and therefore insult Ben in his golden premium enviroment..
    Your such a hypocrit.. jealousy is a bitch, right!

  59. I face these same deliberations as you and also enjoy the process. This is just for one night so multiply the process many times for a whole trip. Add in more variables with flight options, different cities, different routes along with the points and status factors. Lucky I love the planning part!

  60. I am a Marriott/SPG loyalist, and I have enjoyed staying at Design hotels (each one has it’s own theme). In Europe (for the most case) I received free breakfast, and in 3 Design properties I received an upgraded room based on my status. In a few Design hotels I have been offered a welcome drink at their in-house bars.

    Lucky, try sending an email to the hotel to see what amenities they would provide you based on your status – it varies by hotel but that Design might be one that does provide some benefits. Good luck!

  61. I don’t usually comment here, but I travel a lot to Brussels, so I have to write this: be warned that Marriott is on the so-called red light district of Brussels.

  62. I would opt for ‘most convenient and most enjoyable’ rather than ‘points & perks’.
    Option 1: Take the train from BRU to Brussels Midi Station (15 minutes). Stay at Pullman Brussels Midi (inside the station – nice cocktail bar). Have a 2 Michelin star dinner at nearby Comme chez Soi. Next day take the nonstop bus from Brussels Midi Station to Charleroi Airport (75km – under one hour – only way to get there other than a taxi or Über).
    Option 2: Take a train from BRU to the city of Charleroi. Stay at the brand new Novotel in the city. Have dinner at 1 Michelin star L’Eveil des Sens (6 km from downtown). The next day you’re only 15 minutes away from CRL.

  63. @ mike reed

    stop following are a stalker and an envy one as can push yourself to others here who would take care a cretin..stop being a rash!…who is bitter??..look in the mirror and recognize yourself!..
    by the way golden things are Ben’s affinity not mine..

  64. I often have the same problem no Marriott/SPG or Hyatt representation, where to stay ? My default is Grand Luxury Hotels .They offer exceptional customer service . I stayed at Hotel Amigo in Brussels ,booked via GLH’s and it was superb . The only hotel group I will ALWAYS avoid is no matter the city is Hilton. Repeat after repeat of relentless appalling experiences with Hilton Honors customer service has coerced the cessation of any further support . I was Diamond level for several years however that consistent loyal support is of no interest to Hilton Honors which unfortunately directly impacts upon the properties they supposedly represent or in my case disrepresent.

  65. No offence to the enviromental loving lobby here..the hygienic aspect is very important..little bottles or tamper free containers..we are happy if these products smell good and good for the skin…nobody wants the feeling of being maligned by the company or staffs or others guests…if Marriott offers such policy than pls. gurantee the hygiene and health of your guests…

  66. Definitely Grande Place. We got amazing benefits in Moscow Marriott with our new gold status last year. We’ve stayed at the Brussels Aloft. It’s nice, but if the price is similar the Grand Place is a WAY better location for tourist stuff.

  67. Rocco Forte is one of the small chains that I would be interested to read about, I´ve heard good things about other RF properties in Rome, Munich and Edinburgh.

  68. I would always suggest choosing the hotel for the experience. Free breakfast is nice and all, but some hotels are truly unique, and when you’re traveling, experiencing history and culture is what you want to do. After all, you can get free breakfast at any roadside U.S. hotel. you only live once, so why not take advantage of it by trying out the unique things, not the cookie cutter hotels?

  69. I would stay at the Dominican every time if I could find rates like that! But it’s especially convenient because I’m usually there for the opera, right across the street. The Dominican is beautiful and comfortable. I also blame it for my Nespresso habit.

    Personally I prefer B&Bs, some of which are in gorgeous townhouses from Brussels’s colonial days. The city subsidizes renovations for B&B use in the interest of architectural preservation. But of course you don’t get points for B&B stays…

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