This past weekend, Mr Egglestone and I flew to Brussels to stay with friends for a few days. It was Mr E's first visit, but I used to live and went to high school there many years ago and have popped back regularly since. I have always thought Brussels a very underrated capital city overshadowed by places like Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin and Rome. But I cannot enthuse about it enough and Mr E thoroughly loved his time there and cannot wait to go back. I could wax lyrical about all sorts of places in Brussels, but today I shall write about the Hotel Metropole on the Place de Brouckère. The hotel was opened in 1894 and as soon as you walk into the foyer, you are in no doubt that this is a grand old hotel from the Belle Epoque.
Our flight from Newcastle left at 6:30am meaning that with the time difference you were in Brussels by 9am. The 3am start was worth it to have a full day to start the trip. We headed straight into central Brussels and wandered around for several hours. At about 2pm we decided to go for lunch and I suggested the cafe at the Hotel Metropole.
We had an excellent omelette avec frites (bien entendu) and Mr E sampled his first Belgian beer (in Belgium). Belgium is famous for its beers and quite rightly so. Drink beer there and it will never taste the same again anywhere else. Despite sampling many varieties over the weekend, Mr E decided that Chimay was his favourite (so far)
It was a beautiful setting to take a break after all the walking (it was a warm and sunny day). It wasn't deliberate, but it was also a trip down memory lane. Back in 1985 my friend Jill and I organised our schools autumn formal "homecoming" dance and chose the Hotel Metropole as our venue. Not much changes. There was a convention taking place in the basement room where our dance had been held and I went to the very same washroom I had stood in almost 30 years ago reapplying blue eyeliner and frosted lipstick whilst checking on the permed hairdo and making sure my taffeta skirt was still pouffed out (it was 1985 afterall - sadly I couldn't find a photo to share of that fashion ensemble). If you are ever in the european capital, it is well worth popping in for a drink or meal or even a stay at the Metropole. Brussels is famous for it's art nouveau architecture so the whole city is a visual and inspirational feast if you are interested in the decorative arts and architecture (the shopping, restaurants, bars, beer and chocolate aren't bad either). À toute à l'heure!
All other photos: Stephen Egglestone