With only three Radisson Blu hotels in the US, the average American isn’t familiar with the brand. If you are traveling to Europe, it might be time to discover this accommodation option, especially if you are heading to Belgium.
Bruges is one of the latest cities to welcome the upscale brand with an exquisite, 109-room hotel adjacent to the city’s main rail station. The hotel opened in November 2018 and is already a favorite of travelers to Venice of the North.
If you are one of those people who HAS to be in the city center, it’s worth noting that the hotel is not in the middle of the action. While that is a slight disadvantage, it’s a very pleasant 10-minute walk to the heart of Bruges and all of its historical sites. And it’s worth it, given the luxury you’ll experience at this modern, contemporary hotel.
The minute you walk into Radisson Blu Bruges, you’ll sense the aura. Clean lines, home-like seating areas and a check-in area that is anything but stuffy. Staff will come to greet you and give you your key. Then off you go!
Your electronic key controls the elevator, a nice security feature. And you’ve arrived! Guest rooms are sumptuous with comfortable beds and white eiderdowns. You’ll get a great night’s sleep and not hear the rumbling trains next door, thanks to the soundproofing.
Like the rest of the hotel, guest room design is contemporary and welcoming. Light wood floors are complemented by dark oak closets, doors and trim. The hallway carpet mirrors the design on the exterior of the hotel.
Guest rooms pay homage to the city of Bruges. Metal artwork with wooden symbols of key tourist attractions hang over the beds, across from a large high-definition television. The television offers standard channels in a variety of languages, as well as weather, traffic and airport reports.
Technology offerings include an HDMI outlet on the television and two USB ports next to the bed. Heating and air conditioning are controlled from the thermostat near the doorway so you can regulate the temperature to meet your preference.
Aaah, the bath
The bathroom is one of the room’s highlights. Tiled from floor to ceiling with gray-toned squares, you’ll find everything you need like luxury bath products, a decent hairdryer, a make-up mirror, lush towels and surprisingly good lighting. You don’t have to struggle when you shave or put on make-up. Thank you, bathroom designers!
Forget all those misconceptions about horrible showers in Europe. Radisson Blu showers are fabulous. Step inside and you’ll be doused by a rainhead shower above and an adjustable wall shower with three settings on the side. There is also a large bathtub with an adjustable shower hose. The toilet is in a separate room.
To showcase this amazing bain d’excellence, designers created an opening that lets you look out from the bath into the bedroom area. The first time I saw this was at a luxury hotel in Hong Kong. It is as cool now as it was then.
And there’s more, like an electric teapot and coffee maker to help keep you caffeinated, an electronic safe, an iron and ironing board, and a mini-bar.
A few features didn’t make the grade. If you enter your room at night, good luck finding the light switch, which is activated by placing your room key in a slot. You’ll need your cell phone flashlight to find the darn thing. And the toilet paper? Well, let’s just say it’s not Charmin!
And the view isn’t anything to write home about. You can see some church spires and the Belfort Tower, but the main view is of the two-level parking lot below.
Still, all in all, I would have to say are only minor annoyances. This four-star hotel earns its rating. Add to that the friendly, responsive staff, and you’ll want to book here.
What’s for dinner?
I can’t talk about Radisson Blu Bruges without mentioning the Black Swan Restaurant, another pleasant surprise. To start the day, Black Swan offers some creative juices like celery and cucumber. Refreshing! There are all kinds of nuts and cereals, a wide assortment of meats, smoked salmon, fruit, pastries and hot entrees like pork sausages and scrambled eggs. Priced at 20 euros, it’s not bad value for a hotel breakfast, which are notoriously overpriced.
They were changing dinner menus during my visit, so the selection was limited with a choice of cod or steak for the main course. The cod was cooked to perfection with a mound of mashed potatoes with tomatoes in the center. In the “calories should be removed” category was a delectable hot apple tart for dessert, served with vanilla ice cream.
With all those calories, dinner on night two was a nice tomato soup, served from a teapot over cut vegetables. The soup was accompanied by a complimentary appetizer plate and hot bread. The price, with a nice glass of house red wine was 10 euro.
If you are arriving by rail, the Radisson Blu Bruges is your best option. Come out the station, turn left and walk to the end of the parking garage. The hotel is directly above. If arriving by car, the hotel is easily accessible and is just above the city’s best bargain parking area. Interparking charges only 3.50 euros for 24 hours.