I'm looking for a place to stay near BRU the night before I fly out. I don't want to stay in the big city, would prefer a smaller town or village within an hour of the airport, hopefully more to the south and east. (I'll be coming from Luxembourg) Any suggestions?
Zaventem (the airport in Brussels) is in the NE part of the city. I would be afraid of ring road traffic, it can be surprisingly bad at times. There is a Sheraton literally across the street from check-in at the airport. Leuven would be very convenient and has nice lodging choices. Bon voyage
Yes, I haven't stayed in Leuven but it would fit your requirements.
I agree that Leuven is an ideal choice. And you can say that you "saw" Leuven with just a half-day. (It's a really nice place.) I've driven a rental car from Leuven the morning of our departure. One problem can be that the last gas station (under the highway ramp entering BRU) is unattended at dawn, so you can't use a "swipe" credit card to refill the tank. You'll also likely be making an unattended car return, so you have no recourse over alleged body damage. But it's also true that Antwerp is within an hour of BRU. The cab ride is expensive. I've also taken the hourly bus from beside the Centraal Station, which starts around 5AM. Tienen sounds promising, but I've never been there. Mechelen is north, and much quieter than Leuven.
What time does your flight depart? As the others mentioned, that Brussels ring traffic can crawl during peak hours. If you consider Leuven, you can return the car the night before and take the quick train ride to the airport. There is also a street of chain hotels that sit right outside the airport. Advantage is that they offer shuttle service, disadvantage is that it's about the least charming place imaginable to spend your last night in Europe.
Thank you so much for your assistance. It looks like Leuven is just what I'm looking for.
We stayed in Ghent, which didn't seem like it was too far from the airport. I can't remember if we had to change trains at the main train station in Brussels to catch a connecting train to the airport. We left Ghent by 6, on our flight back home by 10am.