Hotels: Take a break in Belgium

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Get away from it all without leaving the country. Martin Banks reviews two spa hotels in the Belgian countryside ideal for weekend breaks away from Brussels

Dolce Hotel, La Hulpe

Imagine staying in a delightful hideaway hidden deep in a beautiful forest. It may seem the stuff of dreams but this tranquil and serene scenario is actually no more than a 20 minute drive from the hustle and bustle of Brussels city centre. Owned by a US-based chain, this four-star hotel is set in the wonderful Soignes Forest, with 264 guest rooms and suites, a conference centre and excellent dining.

Aside from its surroundings, perhaps the one thing that sets it apart from a lot of other hotels is the exclusive Cinq Mondes spa – a big pull for guests who come from as far away as Germany and France to avail themselves of its relaxing charms and wide selection of treatments and massages. This, combined with an array of other revitalizing leisure activities, including tennis courts, mountain bike trails, indoor pool, sauna and fitness room, makes for a particularly soothing stay.

The hotel boasts two restaurants, the Argan and the Tree O, the first offering informal dining, including a regular buffet, and the latter more gastronomic fare. The hotel also offers dinner in the sky – ideally suited for groups, diners seated at the table are hoisted 20 metres above the ground. Strapped to their seats, they are served a four-course meal and regally entertained by a pianist – best done in the absence of high wind.

The hotel is situated in the former IBM training centre and it is worth pointing out that it sits on a main bus route for those wishing to get there using public transport. Guests with a bit of time on their hands will find there is no shortage of things to do in the immediate area, be it a visit to the nearby Folon Foundation at La Hulpe exhibiting the works of Belgian artist Jean-Michel Folon or the battleground at Waterloo.

Many guests, according to Hadi Hotteite, a Lebanese-born manager at the four-star hotel, simply prefer to avail themselves of the wonderful spa facilities and the equally impressive tranquil setting and he says it is a perfect place to wind down for a few days.

Bottom line: from €85; buffet breakfast extra at €35 for two.

Dolce Hotel
Chaussée de Bruxelles 135
B-1310
La Hulpe
T.+32 (0)2 290 9800
www.dolce-la-hulpe-brussels-hotel.com

 


Hotel Lac de Robertville

A bit further away from Brussels, this beautifully restored four star spa and wellness hotel overlooks the Robertville Lake, a well-known beauty spot at the gateway to the hills of the Belgian Ardennes. This family-run haven of peace and tranquillity has 13 rooms, a swimming pool and Jacuzzi, all overlooking well-tended gardens.

Owners Elisabeth and Jean-Pierre Robert-Rey, who live on the premises, bought the hotel five years ago and spent several months restoring it. At the edge of the Hautes Fagnes natural park, each room has been tastefully restored and individually decorated.

The hotel restaurant, overseen by Jean-Pierre who used to work in some of the best restaurants in Brussels, is split in two: one part offers a brasserie menu and the other more up-market gastronomic fare. The menu is eclectic but well prepared – and the delicious breakfast is also worth a mention.

The hotel is a great base from which to visit local attractions such as the Spa-Francochamps F1 race track, just 20 minutes away. Also worth a trip is Reinhardstein Castle, built in 1354 and restored in 1969, open at weekends and during school holidays.  Delight children with the Forestia animal park at nearby La Reid, more than 40 hectares of plains and woods, home to 300 animals belonging to 30 different species.

Bottom line: weekend double from €160, including breakfast. Friday package deals with access to the wellness centre from €17 followed by a two-course dinner €39 a head.

Hotel des Bains

2 Haelen, B-4950 Robertville

T.+32 (0)80 679 571
www.hoteldesbains.be