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Brussels lodging, food and beer for a night!

Greetings again!

My wife and I will be wrapping up our 10-year anniversary trip by spending our last night in Brussels, before flying out around noon the next day (10/25). We will be getting to Brussels via Thalys around 1:45 pm on 10/24.

My - very uneducated - plan is to go straight to Cantillon (short walk from Midi Rail Station). We would then - after enjoying some beer and buying a few bottles - have a nice meal, and head to our hotel before getting a good night sleep and flying out.

First, Cantillon neighborhood looks a bit sketch; any thoughts on walking there - especially with all of our luggage? Maybe we should just go straight to our hotel so that we can store our luggage there, and then just head to a good restaurant and not worry about visiting the brewery?

Second, good lodging recommendations? With our flight being at 12:25 pm on 10/25, I'm not concerned that the hotel be right next to the airport. We are looking to spend less than $150, and an included breakfast would be a bonus - though not a necessity.

Third, good restaurant recommendations for the night of 10/24? We will have stayed in Bruges for 3 nights and Paris for 5, so this night is really about relaxing and resting a bit before flying back home (if not organizing ourselves and getting a few last minute souvenirs). We would like somewhere that has great food, that isn't too expensive (I know, this is relative), and that will have great beer.

Final thought...I don't want to haul beer/wine around with us during our trip. My wife and I love good beer and good wine, and so I was considering bringing a few bottles back from Paris and then getting some beer our last night in Belgium (as opposed to collecting along the way), and wrapping it up and checking it. I can even be persuaded to not do this at all, as I want out trip to be about our experience; it's not a treasure hunt or a shopping trip, and we don't want to be overly encumbered by the logistics of packing and transporting souvenirs.

Any insight - especially from real experience - would be very much appreciated. Thanks so much!

Posted by
1005 posts

Since this is an anniversary trip, I would not recommend walking with all your luggage from the train station to Cantillon. What I'd do is hop on any train going to Central Station (it's covered by your Thalys ticket), get a hotel near that station and Grand Place, and if time, take a cab back to Cantillon. Not sure if you can find a hotel for less than $150. I stayed at La Madeleine right near the train station for around that price--just an average hotel but clean and well-located. You might want to splurge for the "executive" room. If you call or email, you might get a better rate than booking online. For a nearby restaurant, I'd try Pres de Chez Nous--I had a fabulous prix fixe meal there for less than 30 euros (wine was extra).

As far a shipping back beer and wine, the consensus on a popular beer chat board seems to be taking an extra suitcase and packing the bottles yourself with lots of bubble wrap that you bring along (see [][3]). Rick and other travel stores sell tote bags that fold into a pouch. What I do when returning to the States is pack most of my clothes in the tote bag and use my suitcase for the gifts and booze I want to bring back. Be sure to declare your wine and beer with US customs--the tariff really isn't very high.

It's going to be a glorious trip. Have a great time.

Posted by
380 posts

I would recommend you put your luggage in lockers at the Midi station and head to Cantillon from there sans luggage. If I remember correctly, it was an easy 10 or 15 minute walk. We felt completely safe in the neighborhood during the day, although my Belgian friend suggested that may not be the case at night (his opinion only). Cantillon is wonderful to visit and I highly recommend it, although do not be surprised if Cantillon does not allow you to purchase some of their most sought after bottles for takeaway.

I agree with the last poster in that we will usually bring an extra suitcase for my beer. I find putting a smaller carry on size hard sided piece inside of a larger suitcase on the way over to Europe, and returning with both suitcases checked on the way back works well for me.

Posted by
7707 posts

Timely question. We just booked a last minute trip for mid September, into Amsterdam, out of Brussels, so this is our last day plan as well. Planning Amsterdam, Ghent, and Brussels (Been to Bruge twice, through Brussels, Amsterdam 3 times...but love it). We will definitely be going to Cantillon, any thoughts about Ghent for beer?

Posted by
8051 posts

i stayed at this hotel off Grand Place July 24 and the Central Station train station is a couple minutes away on foot.

A double cost me $100. It is near the de biertempel one of the great beer stores in the world where I managed to buy 5 bottles of Westeleveen 12 and get them home safely in checked baggage by using bubble wrap and two pairs of size twelve shoes where I put two of the bottles. One other trick is to stuff the bag with paper and wrap the bottles in clothes centered in the bag so those guys throwing the bags when loading the plane do not break the bottles. It is funny the bottles I bought warm were all cold and had condensation from being up in the hold of the plane at 30k feet for 8 hours

Posted by
94 posts

We walked to Cantillon from the Grand Place when we were in Brussels this summer. I would NOT suggest doing so with luggage. Especially if your talking about adding wine bottles/beer bottles too. It was a good haul through regular streets, not touristy places. I didn't feel unsafe, but I wouldn't have wanted to haul luggage that far. Stay somewhere near the Grand Place like another poster suggested, seems like many places there are well priced and within your budget. You'll be close to restaurants, to the train, and in a very walkable area. We were able to drop our luggage off before check-in time at almost every place we stayed while traveling this summer. Just ask the hotel ahead of time. Then you could drop off your stuff in route to Cantillon.

As for bringing back beer, my husband managed to bring some back in his luggage. His buddy who was traveling with us was not so lucky. One of the bottles broke in transit and his luggage and some of his nicer clothes were ruined. So if you dare, pack it well! Have a wonderful anniversary trip!

Posted by
88 posts

Thanks much for the recommendations! We have booked a room at ibis Brussels off Grand Place. I plan on bringing some brew (and maybe wine) back in a checked, hard-shell suitcase (will definitely bubble wrap etc. well!). I noticed that Beer Planet has new owners and has received a lot of great reviews lately. I'll also, I believe, talk my dear wife into a trip to Cantillon. T'would be a pity to be so close and not imbibe.

Posted by
5 posts

Paul - As far as beer in Ghent, check out Waterhuis aan de Bierkant, Trollekelder, Trappistenhuis, Aba-jour.

Posted by
7707 posts

Thanks for the suggestions Lester.

As for packing beer or wine, I have had extremely good luck, not losing a bottle yet, surprisingly only a can, but I shoved that in last really did not pack it well.

My technique is to wrap each bottle or can in a clothing item, but key is to place a layer of clothing on the bottom, then around the sides, items in the center, then a layer of padding on top. I go so far as to pack along a Rick Steves Backpack bag, packing my roller bag with liquid items on the way home, then any excess that is cabin safe goes in the RS bag.