Down an unassuming side street just a stone’s throw from one of Europe’s most beautiful city squares sits The Dominican, a luxury hotel in Brussels. Though the building itself is fairly new, remnants of the historical site’s storied past are woven throughout the French-style hotel.
In the 15th-century, the location was home to a Dominican abbey. Interior features such as the high ceilings, sweeping archways, stone floors, and the Gregorian chants playing in the elevator are all nods to the site’s religious past.
Famous French neoclassical painter Jacques-Louis David lived and worked there in the 1800s. Today, his paintings are used as references in contemporary design details throughout the hotel and one of the five suites is named for the artist. Architects integrated the original facade from David’s home into the spacious split-level apartment, which features separate living and dining spaces and transports guests back to the elegance of 19th-century Brussels.
Interior rooms are set around the sun-lit abbey courtyard and lofts face Brussels’ historical center. Warm muted browns and natural woods evoke Old World luxury while the high-definition televisions and espresso machines in every room ensure guests have all the comforts of the modern world.
The Monastery Corridor’s Belgian stone flooring is the the only original detail from the abbey that remains. In the Grand Lounge, however, oversized windows, ornate ironwork, and vibrant paintings depicting classical iconography are reminiscent of Victorian-era cafes.
Centrally located, The Dominican is perfectly situated for exploring Belgium’s capital city. Around the corner is the famous theater and opera house Théâtre Royale de la Monnaie. In the 18th century it was one of the most popular French-speaking theaters in Europe after those in Paris. The neoclassical theater seats an audience of 1,700 and hosts plays, operas, concerts, and orchestras.
Grand-Place, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a few blocks away. Its 15th-century architecture featuring baroque gables and gilded statues make it one of the world’s most beautiful squares and a must-see for tourists. Nearby, the Musée Magritte Museum houses the world’s largest collection of works by Belgian surrealist artist René Magritte.
The streets branching out from Grand-Place are filled with vendors offering waffles, chocolates, and mussels and frites. For an elegant, leisurely dinner head to nearby Le Marmiton, a cozy two-story eatery with three-course menus featuring Belgian specialties, French wine, and dessert.
A must-stop for beer lovers is Delirium Café, known for its Guinness World Record-holding brew list featuring more than 3,000 varieties. Choose among Trappist, famous Belgian abbeys, more typical fruit beers such as raspberry or peach, or go out on a limb and try a banana, coconut or pepper beer. ■