Designed using the essence of its neighbourhood and strong references to the building’s erstwhile role, is the hotel The Dominican situated in the very heart of the city of Brussels.
This is not your average cookie-cutter knock-off city/business hotel, this is a hotel set in the centre of Brussels, and standing on what was a Dominican abbey established way back in the 15th century. The Dominican is a member of Design Hotels and this is no surprise, as design is in the very DNA of this urban sanctuary.
Centrally located and within wafting distance of the distinguished guild houses of the magnificent Grand Place, The Dominican pays elegant tribute to the history of its past identity and is a unique destination from which one can discover the delights of Europe’s capital city.
The interior is a contemporary interpretation of the old cloister, featuring the designs of the prize winning Amsterdam firm, FG Stijl. The Dominican is tucked behind Brussels’ famous theatre and opera house, La Monnaie and is just metres away from Brussels’ busiest shopping streets.
In spite of this fact once you approach the hotel, the entire atmosphere changes; there is no trace of any hustle and bustle, which is normally seen around city hotels. Cars may drive up to the hotel only with prior permission, leaving the front of the hotel a scene of amazing serenity.
It would be no exaggeration to state that we are the most well travelled generation in history, and the more we travel the choosier we get. At The Dominican, it is sought to give this well travelled guest something that is special and at the same time unique, thus the essence of the building’s prior role, that of being an abbey is not masked, but instead skillfully iterated and glorified.
The renowned Dutch duo FG Stijl and architect Bart Lens designed the hotel’s sweeping archways with such authenticity that a stroll through the monastery corridor evokes an almost medieval feeling of elegance. Details like Belgian stone used on the floors and the soaring windows and exquisite metalwork, especially in the Grand Lounge brings alive, the decadence of old Europe.
150 guestrooms and suites have their own distinctive look aided by an effortless mix of rich textiles gracing a contemporary setup. The interiors of the various guestrooms and conference rooms welcome the daylight through the ceiling high windows.
There is no separate concierge service and the more than friendly staff manning the reception desk is capable of supplying all the help any guest would need.
Much emphasis is laid on preserving the history and atmosphere the building possessed initially, thus an ecclesiastical pattern inspired by the Dominican Abbey Order that once resided at this location shows up on the carpets, the ceiling of the elevators and in the wrought iron furniture.
In the nineteenth century the famous neo-classicist painter Jacques-Louis David had his home here; his spirit too is preserved in the original facade of his abode, which is today seamlessly integrated into the new building that houses the hotel. One of the five suites is named after him, and his paintings are referenced in contemporary design details throughout the hotel.
Church music playing softly in the elevators is one more quotient that reinforces the charm that is so arduously created and maintained. An ever changing menu, dishes full of fresh produce and the pick of vintages from a carefully curated wine list keep the guests satiated in the open plan style lobby, bar and restaurant. The prevalent design and atmosphere continues in this part as well.
Locals and guests alike are seen reveling in the food, ambience and parties which spill outside onto the private courtyard terrace located at the heart of the hotel. Here a thick old fig tree provides both shade and interest whilst the overstuffed cushions and cosy banquettes keep the guests comfortable.
Whether travelling for business or leisure there is one thing guests place very high up on their list of essentials, and that is a good work-out place. The Dominican’s fitness centre, has besides running and cross-training machines, a dedicated boxing room as well, fully equipped with the latest in leather punch bags, balls and swivels. One may indulge in a heat treatment at the sauna and steam rooms before reclining on the ivory leather banquette of the relaxation corner.
For many travellers, when it comes to picking a hotel, good design and architecture are high up on the list, but a unique experience is always the Holy Grail; after their stay at The Dominican the bench they use is bound to be altered forever.
Text By Mala Bajaj
Photographs By Design Hotels