Desperate times call for desperate measures. Living in Brussels, I usually would not think of booking a room in that same city. It seems a bit strange to splurge on a hotel when your own house is just a couple of kilometers away. When we think of a staycation, we often imagine ourselves staying in a little chalet in the countryside, not in a room ten minutes away in the same city. Yet COVID-19 and a sneaky super heatwave definitely change your perspective.
Sometimes, you just need a break from your daily life. Especially when the world seems to be heading towards its end. As if 2020 was not awful enough already, we got a little super heatwave at the beginning of August to make matters even worse. As someone living in the city, I do not have a car and it is therefore not always easy to leave Brussels just for a couple of hours or a night. So, I had to look for another solution. A stay at the sustainable and COVID-proof Qbic hotel was exactly the getaway I needed.
1. Refreshing hugs and lush plants
When visiting Brussels, a lot of tourists opt to stay in the city center. Not a bad choice but if you want to get off the beaten path, it is definitely not the best option either. If you want to experience Brussels like the locals do, go to Ixelles instead. Next to the prestigious Avenue Louise, hidden away in a little side lane, you will find Qbic hotel. Housed in the former Sheraton-building, the hotel definitely offers an impressive sight. And when you enter, it feels like a warm hug – or a refreshing one, if you are staying over during a heatwave.
Qbic hotel is quite a new addition to the Brussels hotel scene. It first opened its doors in November 2019 yet it was totally finished only in February 2020. Right, a month prior to the lockdown. Where a lot of hotels – especially in this price range – can be a little stuffy and grim, Qbic definitely proves things can be done differently. The lobby and the hotel’s restaurant, Motley, immediately set the tone. Design furniture, lots of plants, quirky details. If you had some time to spare, you could easily spend a couple of hours exploring all the details of the place.
Yet, let’s be honest, that is not why I am here. It is almost seven o’clock already and still boiling hot outdoors, so all I want to do is go up to my room, cool down and get ready for the evening. The ‘Funny Business’ one in which I am staying is much bigger than I expected. Not only do you get a huge bed, but there is also a little lounge section, a handy desk and a small yet practical bathroom. Thanks to the décor – again, this is most definitely one of the biggest perks of the hotel – you immediately feel at ease. Admittedly, the air-conditioning also makes things so much better.
2. Let’s talk COVID-19
Speaking of airco, this was actually something I was a bit worried about beforehand. With COVID-19 ruling our lives, there are quite a lot of people pointing out its health dangers. If the same air is blown into the room over and over again, this can mean that viruses can circulate more easily. It is therefore safe to say that I was a bit skeptical, yet when entering the room, I immediately spotted a flyer explaining all the measures the hotel puts in place in order to make it as COVID-proof as possible. For example, their air filters have been changed to hospital grade HEPA filters – which means the air will be 99,6% purified. Very happy me-alert. Other than that, they thoroughly clean every surface in the public spaces at least four times a day, high touch points even get cleaned after every use. If that does not do the trick, well, I do not know.
3. Sustainability is also important
But of course I promised you before that there would also be a sustainable angle to my stay, so here we go. It would take us a bit too far to go into each and every detail, yet I will narrow it down to the highlights. One of the first things you will see are the toiletries from ‘Stop the water while using me!’. The message from this German brand is loud and clear, and besides from that, it actually works. You really will turn off the water when using these magnificently smelling products. Besides the sustainable toiletries, there are other things you might not remark as quickly. Take the shower for example. Thanks to a special system that mixes oxygen into the water, it consumes less while still offering you a pleasant showering experience. The organic mattresses present throughout the hotel are handcrafted in the UK by Naturalmat and if you choose not to get your room serviced, you get a voucher in return which you can then use at the bar. No need to say more, where is my beer?
4. Karaoke in the cinema
Of course there is more to a hotel experience than just the room and that is no less true in the case of Qbic. I already talked about the bar, yet there is also a cinema which can double as a karaoke room. You can of course just catch a movie (there is one on show every night) but it is also possible to rent the cinema or karaoke and to turn it into a private venue. Anyone looking for the perfect bachelorette spot? Here you go. The more sporty types amongst us can sweat their butts off at the gym and if you are a design-loving workaholic, why not rent out one of the meeting rooms the hotel has on offer? I personally opted to just make it to the garden and enjoy an apéro under the cooling trees, a very rare good in Brussels. If I had to mention one downside of the hotel, it would be the prices at the bar which are on the higher side. Yet then again: there is a garden!
5. What about the neighborhood?
When it comes to the surroundings of Qbic, it is hard to do better. You are right at the heart of Ixelles, between Place Flagey and the Châtelain-quarter. If you want to experience Brusssels like the locals do or is you have already discovered the center and want something new, this is the place. Place Flagey is perfect if you want to go out and have some drinks (make sure to try out the fries at Frit Flagey while you are at it), Châtelain is a bit more fancy yet the neighborhood bursts with charming places to eat, nice boutiques and other gems your hipster heart will love. Some of my personal favorites include Belga Coffee for your daily dose of caffeine, Peinture Fraîche for the most splendid art books and Rose Noire for lush green plants. Your best bet really is to just stroll around and visit every place you are attracted to.
Let’s face it, we are living in strange times and that affects everything we do. Sure, your hotel experience will be a little different than it would be without COVID-19. I personally would not have thought that I would one day be walking to my room with a mask on or that I would be disinfecting my hands on every level. And instead of a breakfast buffet, you now get a personal plate of goodies in order to respect the hygiene measures. So yes, the whole experience would be even better if we were not caught in a pandemic. But it truly is pleasant to get away for a bit, even if it is just for a night. Whether you have not been to Brussels before or you are living there. A staycation in your own city can be just as nice as a trip far far away, especially when you are staying in a place like this.
Rates for a double room with breakfast included start at 69 euros a night, the Funny Business-room will set you back 89 euros. For more info, visit Qbic’s website.