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Booking Hotels in Belgium

We are signed up for the RS Heart of Belgium & Holland tour starting April 27, a Wednesday. We like to come in a couple of days early, but we do not automatically choose the starting hotel (as they can sometimes be very pricey compared to nearby hotels.)

I started to explore possibilities in both Ghent (the starting city) and Brussels (where we will fly in to) possibly Sunday 4/24 or Monday 4/25. Particularly for a city like Brussels, I look for hotels around the central train station which is also usually near many tourist sites. In both cities the majority of hotels in the vicinity of the train station are listed as "no rooms available for those dates" on search sites such as booking.com and hotels.com. I even looked at a chain hotel web site (Best Western) out of curiosity and had the same result, but rooms were available at hotels far from the city center.

My question---is this usual for Brussels and Ghent? Is it because I am looking too early, 8 months ahead, and they simply do not book this early? Is there something extra special about that time of the year in Belgium that I do not know about?

I had not planned to commit to one city or the other this far out as we were not sure how we wanted to use our free time before the tour starts or even exactly when we will arrive. I do not want to book airlines this far out anyway. But now I am wondering if I need to grab one of the few hotels that indicate availability and develop free day plans from there. This is our 7th RS tour and I have not encountered this issue before (especially for hotel rooms on a Monday and Tuesday.) Thoughts and advice from those of you familiar with Belgium would be appreciated.

By the way, this is also an issue for staying afterwards in Amsterdam. Since we are only planning 1 extra day, I decided to contact the ending hotel and try to arrange it with them. However I am still very surprised at how many surrounding hotels had "no rooms available for those dates."

Posted by
14269 posts

That's pretty odd, isn't it? I stayed in the Ibis Brussels off Grand Place in Brussels in June 2014 so I did an availability search for that family of hotels. There were about 2 pages of hotels in the same chain that were available but 6 at the very end of the listing that show as unavailable including "my" Ibis. Very weird because I put in all sorts of dates around those including up to April 23 and on April 28 and the hotel is unavailable only on 24/25/26/27. There were some other hotels of the Accor brand that did show availability but were the higher priced ones than the Ibis which is budget.

Posted by
33335 posts

The problem at the end of April in Amsterdam is Kings Day http://www.koningsdag27april.info/koningsdag-2016/ which is a sort of a cross between Mardi Gras, a flea market, and a right proper booze-up.

I've always avoided it.

You may be running into the Brussels International Film Festival.

Posted by
14269 posts

It does not look like the problem is that it is too early as I could get availability after those dates.

Posted by
16894 posts

If you email a desired hotel directly, they could explain the problem, or may give a more positive answer. You probably want to make a hotel booking that is cancellable, not pre-paid, given this long lead time and if you don't yet have flights booked.

Posted by
1806 posts

For Belgium, I would actually suggest arriving in Brussels and heading straight over to Antwerp via train (it does not take that long, the commuter rail trains don't cost much, no need to book in advance and they leave regularly throughout the day and into the evening). Antwerp is not included in the RS Tour (it covers everything but Antwerp). Antwerp is an easy city to navigate and English is widely spoken - you really don't need a guide. It has some great museums, restaurants, shopping and nightlife - certainly enough to keep you busy for a few days before you head back to meet your tour group. Antwerp also has plenty of available hotels during this time period (try Booking.com).

I will say that I stayed in a hotel near the Antwerp train station. The hotel was very nice and I did not encounter any sort of serious problems, but there were a few strange characters walking about outside at night. I would actually recommend trying to get a hotel over near the Cathedral (which is amazing, by the way) or maybe near the MAS. Antwerp is pretty compact and walkable, and it has good public transit and plenty of taxis if you need to get to/from the train station with luggage.

Posted by
4535 posts

I don't know what the specifics of those dates are, but remember that Brussels is the capital of the EU, NATO headquarters and a major business city. It's not at all surprising that it books up at certain times of the year well in advance.

I'm not sure why Gent would have that problem.

Posted by
1019 posts

Hi Ron - From Broken Arrow, OK

Well guess what... I am on your tour group. I spend most of yesterday trying to find a Brussels hotel. I found out that they are have a seafood tradeshow so a lot of hotels are booked. So I called RS to see if I should change weeks, but they gave me number of Elizabeth Holmes and travel agent in seattle area that knows their tours inside and out to help. She charges $50 for the research, but offered her website www.elizabethholmes.com (I think). they have a website to hotels, I booked one for 3 days prior to our trip in Brussels. We are leaving Tulsa on Saturday the 23rd, and will arrive on the 24th. We are staying at Floris Ustel Midi which is close to the Midi station. I found that most hotel *** and ** are kind of pricey, but it is vacation. I gave in. About $650.00 but I did research a little further, I think the price would have been cheaper on booking.com or Travelocity or one of those. This price includes the breakfast buffet. Not sure if it is a good hotel or not, but I was getting a little worried. the Hotel IBIS gave me an offer but it would have been more than $700 for the three nights. We are staying thru May 10 at Amsterday, I have not heard back from our ending hotel yet. YIkes! don't like that, because I am an planner and like all my ducks in a row!! PM me if we need to talk, I can give you my cell phone.

Good luck and can't wait to meet ya!

Kim Prater