Hotel Review: The Dominican Brussels Using Hotel Tonight

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Last week, TPG Creative Director Adam Daniel Weiss stayed at the The Dominican in Brussels, Belgium. The following is his review of his experience at the property.

After traveling to Dublin with friends last week, I decided to extend my trip for a few days and add a stopover in Brussels to visit my friend Martjin and explore the city. Although booking the extra leg of the flight was easy, I opted to spin the wheel of fortune and try out the Hotel Tonight app which I had never used. I knew that TPG had a discount code available (new users can enter the code BKELLY99 for a $25 credit), so I popped it into my phone and once I landed at BXL, I fired up the app to investigate my options.

I quickly found The Dominican, a UK/Netherlands Carlton Hotels chain (not to be confused with the Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group) property located in the center of Brussels. Looking at the map, the location looked grand, the rooms looked decent and the price ($257 US) was in my range, so after seeing that only one room was left according to HT, I clicked “accept” and sealed my fate for the evening.

The Dominican - Brussels, Belgium
The Dominican – Brussels, Belgium

Upon jumping off the train at Brussels’ Central Station, I walked about 10 minutes to the hotel, which is located on a clean block across from the Theatre Royale de la Monnaie. Though I’d made my reservation not 30 minutes earlier, I was checked in and shown to my  room, which was already available. The elevator (which constantly plays a soporific7 soundtrack of Gregorian monk-chanting) took me to the sixth floor, and as soon as the doors opened, I was hit with the smell of must, dust and mold from the hallways. I was under the impression that the hotel stands on what was  formerly a 15th-century Dominican abbey, but it would have been nice to feel they had vacuumed or Febreezed since then.

The musty hallways of the Dominican Hotel, Brussels
The musty hallways of the Dominican Hotel, Brussels

I covered my nose and walked down the hall to my Deluxe Room (their lowest tier, normally priced as low as $200 US and as high as $487 US), where unfortunately, CNN was blasting through the in-room surround-sound connected to the TV. However, I was pleased to find it was cozy and, most importantly clean.

Deluxe Bedroom at The Dominican, Brussels, Belgium
Deluxe Room at The Dominican, Brussels

The room was around 200 square feet, so I wasn’t able to do much moving around, but it suited my needs and, as a welcome respite to my sinuses, smelled considerably fresher than the hallway. A small desk and complimentary Nespresso machine were nice additions that allowed me to get work done when I needed to, however the free in-room WiFi was incredibly slow, making it feel more like dial-up service. I often opted to work in the adorable nearby Arcadi Cafe instead, where I found faster internet, delicious rosè wine and tasty paninis that I would highly recommend.

Spacious desk and seating area with Nespresso machine and local publications
Small desk and seating area with Nespresso machine and local publications

The stand-up shower in the mirrored bathroom had a rainfall showerhead, and the bath amenities were scented with lemongrass. Speakers in the bathroom played whatever was on TV, and could only be disabled by testing out the plugs behind the television itself. I finally found the right one, and could only wish there had simply been a switch on the wall.

Two views of the mirrored bathroom at The Dominican, Brussels
Two views of the mirrored bathroom at The Dominican, Brussels

The following morning, upon check-out, I was notified by the front desk agent (all of whom were incredibly affable and helpful with directions and recommendations) that I was being charged for breakfast – a meal I had not actually had.

Lobby lounge and breakfast area, The Dominican, Brussels
Lobby lounge and breakfast area, The Dominican, Brussels

When I pointed out the error of this charge, she told me that their system automatically assumes you’ll partake of their breakfast buffet (at the steep cost of €27 [$37 US]), and that unless you inform them otherwise, you’ll be charged for the meal. She admitted that this was a strange charge and told me that if I didn’t want to have breakfast, this charge would be eliminated from my bill. I looked at the buffet (nice, not nothing out of the norm for a hotel of this caliber), and opted to pass and save my money for other expenditures in the city.

Standard breakfast buffet, pastries, meats, cheeses, breads, cereals, etc.
Standard breakfast buffet, pastries, meats, cheeses, breads, cereals, etc.

Overall, minus the musty smell, the slow WiFi and the strange breakfast-charge policy, I was content with my stay at The Dominican (and the process of using Hotel Tonight to book it). The location was really great – only a 5-minute walk from the historic city center, close to the Grande-Place de Bruxelles and tons of restaurants and bars, and an easy distance to the Central Station. I won’t go so far as to recommend it highly until they fix that WiFi (and the smell!), but it was a decent option for a last-minute jaunt to Belgium.

Have you stayed at The Dominican before? I would love to hear what you think, and if you have other suggestions for Brussels for next time!

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