We are staying at the Hilton near the Gare du Nord free for 7 nights in October courtesy of HHonors points. I've seen a couple of posts about the neighborhood around that area being dubious. Any more details?
Ray, I'm sorry, I had had my email open since this morning and finally hit submit, I normally check other threads first. I deleted mine. Yes, hopefully someone can tell us something other than trying to decipher tripadvisor feedback. I trust the RS Forum folks much more!!
The areas around both Nord and Midi in Brussels are a bit dubious. Don't get too worried if you've already booked - you probably won't get held up as soon as you leave the hotel. But they might be intimidating for people who aren't used to big cities, and I wouldn't wave any expensive cameras/smartphones around, or wear any jewellery visible outside your clothes.
Rick describes Brussels Nord train station itself as "surrounded by a seedy red-light district." However, your hotel and other major hotels nearby are quite close to the Rogier Metro and tram stops that you could use to reach your sightseeing destinations, without doubling back to the station itself.
We were planning on using the Rogier Metro to start activities in Brussels. A closely related question - we're planning an overnight to Paris from Brussels thru Lille. Would it be better to Metro to the appropriate train station or go to the Nord station?
Trains to Lille and Paris only serve the Midi station, not Nord. I would take the Metro from Rogier.