Pillows Anna van den Vondel

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Hotelchain: Pillows hotels
Location: Amsterdam – The Netherlands
Classification: 4 star hotel
Official websitepillowshotels.com/amsterdam-vondel

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Pillows Anna van den Vondel is a fine boutique hotel near the Vondelpark, the largest city park in Amsterdam and one of the most famous parks in the Netherlands! The hotel is centrally placed south of the Leidseplein and near the Van Gogh Museum which is only a 12 minute walk away. Pillows Anna van den Vondel recently got a complete make over and is one of the best four star hotels I have stayed at in Amsterdam!

As every Pillows hotel, the central place to meet people is their Living Room. I just love their ‘feeling home’ concept and with only 31 rooms, this hotel definitely treats their guests in a very personal yet professional way. The decoration is beautiful and I spotted nice artwork all over the place. The welcome drink upon arrival is always a good start! The staff genuinely cared about us. Each time we went through the Lobby we were acknowledged with a smile or a welcome back or a few words on how our trip was going which is what sets a great hotel from an okay hotel. Whenever we came across the housekeeping staff in the corridors they always greeted us with a smile and a quick hello.

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All rooms at Pillows Anna van den Vondel are of a four star level. The room we stayed in was compact, but had all the amenities one could wish for. The bedding and lines were top notch! Our room was as you would expect, spotlessly clean and turndown service was provided. Some items I liked particularly were the Bluetooth streaming Tivoli audio system as well as the smart control system for lights, air conditioning and door locking.  Bathroom featured single sink, toilet and a walk-in shower. It was a great room to hang out and unwind!

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After a wonderful night, we were ready for breakfast! As usaual, breakfast at a Pillows hotel is something to look forward to! The combination of à la carte and buffet style is the perfect match for me. The homemade granola is a must try! Once again, the service was excellent and nothing was asked for too much!

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By the way, the Living Room is the perfect place to enjoy some light bites and drinks. From Monday – Thursday, the open ‘domestic kitchen’ is open and the chef will prepare a daily changing menu prepared with local ingredients. The Table d’Hotes concept is great and although I did not experience it myself, I’m sure the food here is delicious…

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Pillows Anna van den Vondel is a a top notch four star boutique hotel. Although I could stay in the hotel all day long, make sure to go out and explore the Vondelpark. It is a gorgeous park and is full of people who are enjoying a sunny day, dog-walking, jogging, listening to music and even some people watching (I just love doing that… 🙂 ). Do note that Pillows Anna van de Vondel has its own private garden. I can imagine that during summer, this is a very nice spot to enjoy the sun while reading a book!

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I loved my stay at Pillows Anna van den Vondel, incredible how they manage to make you feel at home from the very first minute. That’s what Pillows hotels is standing for, their service level is high and unseen at any four star hotel in Amsterdam. Highly recommended!

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Burj Al Arab – Dubai

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Hotelchain: Jumeirah
Location: Dubai – UAE
Classification: 5 star hotel deluxe (some say world’s only 7 star hotel)
Official websitehttp://www.jumeirah.com/en/hotels-resorts/dubai/burj-al-arab/

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Internationally renowned as world’s most luxurious hotel, I had the opportunity to experience the famous Burj Al Arab in Dubai. It is located on a man-made island, 280 meters from the Jumeirah beach. It is the flagship of the Jumeirah hotel group.  Only hotel guests (or guests with a reservation in one of the restaurants) can enter the hotel, so there is no sightseeing here.  This is a good thing, as I saw a number of people at the front gate taking pictures of the hotel.

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Location

Located at Jumeirah beach, Burj Al Arab is located between Dubai Marina and Business Bay. There’s a holiday vibe around the area.

When I approached the entrance, I was impressed with the height of the hotel… 321 meters above sea level… Trust me, it is HUGE!  As soon as you enter the Burj Al Arab, you will enter in a completely different world.  I truly was blown away… Gold everywhere.  It is reportedly the only 7 star hotel in the world and I can easily understand why.  After taking the escalator — with a huge aquarium – you can look up 200 meters. A lot of looking up!  Did you know that the Statue of Liberty would fit inside?  Also, there are dancing fountains all over the place with tons of different programs, so you’ll never get bored when watching!

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The suites

There are no rooms in the Burj al Arab, only suites. Starting at 170m² (1,829 sq. ft.), all of the rooms are duplex suites, each with the highest level of comfort one could wish for.  The Burj has 1600 staff members looking over “only” 202 suites.  So that’s… eight members for each suite? Yep! There is a private check-in and butler service for each suite. No waiting times here at the reception. They explain everything you need to know and will do anything you ask — like making reservations in one of the restaurants, booking day trips to the city, making sure you will get the dessert you want, etc.

Every suite in the Burj Al Arab is beautifully decorated. Although the hotel opened back in 1999, the suites look very up to date and brand new. From the marble entrance with large staircase to the oversized living rooms, you will feel like a king or queen while walking around. They have the world’s most expensive mattresses, which can be adapted to customer needs and preferences. These things are making this hotel truly unique; returning guests are assured they will have a wonderful night.

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The bathrooms are huge — they used Italian marble – and you will be so relaxed after spending some time in the oversized jacuzzi.  Oh, a great thing: did you know that Hermès produced a special edition of perfume for the Burj Al Arab?  That is right, full-size Hermès Burj Al Arab amenities (female + male) are offered to guests at no additional charge. Of course, you could take them home as a souvenir.

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Spa facilities

A full spa – the Talise Spa – is located on one of the top floors. I was not able to take pictures of the spa area, but there is an indoor pool, jacuzzi, fitness, etc. Several treatments are offered and after a relaxing massage you can relax in the spa resting area, accessible for guests only, of course. From there, you can look straight down (200 meters!) to the ground level. Very impressive and not recommended when afraid of heights 🙂

Spa treatments are excellent! They exactly know how to make you feel at ease and so relaxed. Just tell them which pressure you prefer and you will enjoy every single minute. The soft music all over the place made it even more relaxing.

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There is also an outdoor pool area — and the Burj has its own beach across the bridge. The recently opened Terrace is stunning! For water fun, there is complimentary access to the Wild Wadi Waterpark, which is located across the bridge.

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The famous Burj Al Arab hotel is one of Dubai’s highlights and one of world’s best hotels… The hotel’s immaculate reputation is well earned and you will be impressed with every aspect of your stay!

Mandarin Oriental Bangkok

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Hotelchain: Mandarin Oriental
Location: Bangkok – Thailand
Classification: 5 star hotel
Official websitemandarinoriental.com/bangkok

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The famous Mandarin Oriental Bangkok is the flagship of the prestigious Mandarin Oriental Group. The Mandarin Oriental Bangkok was the first hotel in Thailand and is more than 140 years old, it was built in 1876. Today it is still one of world’s best hotels. Actually, it has been rated as world’s best hotel for 10 years and I can easily understand why. I was so fortunate to stay here and truly was and still am blown away by the service and comfort they provide.

Location

You can’t beat the location, the Mandarin Oriental Bangkok is located right next to the Chao Phraya River and the most popular tourist sites are nearby. The public boat will take you to the Grand Palace in just about 15 minutes.

This ultra-luxurious five star hotel offers 324 rooms and 44 suites, a world-class spa and several high end restaurants which I will tell you more about later.

As soon as I entered this palace, I noticed the attention to details. The way they combined the elegant Thai style with seductive modern touches is just wonderful. Mandarin Oriental hotels are known for their hospitality and service. Several staff members actually remembered my name. Those are small things, but they make a world difference. Every single staff member I met, greeted me with a smile and took care of every request in a very kind and professional way. Upon arrival, we were greeted with a traditional Thai flower hand garland.

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Rooms/suites

We stayed in a deluxe room and luxurious it definitely was. They decorated the rooms in a very elegant and very classy way. The leather couch was great for watching television. I could have spent here all day long 🙂 The view over the river and Bangkok’s surroundings was great. I watched the long tail boats floating by while enjoying some drinks. This is what a perfect hotel room looks like. Even the marble bathroom was an eye catcher featuring a separate bath tub and walk-in shower. The silk bathrobes were amazing. Another feature I appreciated very much was the in-room interactive entertainment system which allows iPod/MP3 integration. The high quality audio system was of a very good quality. All rooms at the Mandarin Oriental come with Butler Service, always a bonus! Did you know that the Mandarin Oriental has one of the highest staff to guest room ratio in the entire hotel industry (3 staff per guest room)!

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The recently redecorated rooms at the Author’s Wing are very stylish and the Royal Suite which I visited was the best and most luxurious suite I have ever seen, hands down!

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Restaurants/bars

At night we had dinner at Sala Rim Naam offering an authentic Thai cuisine, but first we had some cocktails at the Bamboo bar. It was pretty hard to choose from the extensive cocktail menu but the very knowledgeable bartender gave us some good recommendations.   While we were enjoying the delicious Thai food (I LOVE Thai food!), we were enjoying a classical Thai dance show. We were in Bangkok for just a few days and this was the perfect evening to experience the true Thai tradition and hospitality. I thoroughly likes the Mussamun Nuea, the southern style beef curry with sweet potato and onion. The menu was prepared in an excellent way and service was top notch! Although there’s a smart casual dress code where they kindly request guests to wear elegant attire, the atmosphere was very relaxed and easy going.

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Pool area

The next morning I started my day with a swim in the stunning pool. There are two pools, a wading pool which is perfect for leisure and a 25 metre long pool which is ideal for swimming laps. As soon as I approached the pool area, staff member greeted me and gave me some plush towels and some water. Although the Mandarin Oriental is right in the middle of Bangkok, it felt like a hidden gem here. It was so quiet here… fantastic way to start my day! Beside the pools, a full fitness center is available 24 hrs. They offer complimentary fitness classes… After your work out you can relax in the sauna, steam room or jacuzzi. And if you are into tennis and/or squash, the Mandarin Oriental has two outdoor tennis courts and one squash court.

Spa facilities

If you just want to relax make sure you visit the Spa facilities which are located in a separate building across the river. The spa of the Mandarin Oriental Bangkok is one of Asia’s leading spa center offering several beautifully decorated treatment rooms and steam facilities. They even have a few ‘specialty suites’ for couples with private steam showers and vitality pools.

I enjoyed a after-jet-lag treatment and absolutely loved it! After selecting my favorite scent I felt so relaxed and almost fell asleep which is a huge compliment. Just take a look at their spa menu as they offer several kind of treatments.

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Then it was time for breakfast! Breakfast is served at the Riverside Terrace and believe me, having breakfast here with such a stunning view is just awesome! Quality of the food was outstanding! The riverside terrace offers stunning views. I enjoyed the long tail boats passing by. Service was great, never was asked for too much. Do try their home made yoghurt and pastries!

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No wonder the Mandarin Oriental Bangkok is well known for its service and overall facilities! The high reputation is well deserved and I can easily understand why this hotel is one of world’s leading hotels! From the personal printed writing paper with your name on it to the fresh flowers all over the room… The Thai hospitality is amazing and I can’t say enough good things about this hotel! Six stars all the way!

Guarda Golf Resort – Crans-Montana

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Location: Crans-Montana – Switzerland
Classification: 5 star hotel superior
Official websiteguardagolf.com

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Guarda Golf hotel & residences is a top notch five star hotel in Crans-Montana. Making part of Swiss Deluxe Hotels and The Leading Hotels of the World, my expectations were high and were met in every single way! We arrived during their winter opening weekend and I was blown away as soon as I entered this gorgeous place! I always like mountain style interiors when staying in the Alps and the warm and cozy interiors definitely gave me the mountain feelings. Guarda Golf hotel & residences is not an ultra modern design hotel, but a very stylish, elegant and luxurious appointed place instead. The traditional wooden décors and furniture are all beautiful.

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The most friendly and professional check-in staff greeted us with a smile and gave us some useful information about the hotel and the village. I loved the personal approach and I immediately noticed the high service level. The hotel has ‘only’ 23 rooms which is why guests are treated as royalty here. From this winter, they added 7 huge suite apartments, each with a lot of space to move (225m²!). Also new is the new private 15-seat cinema which is accessible at no additional charge. I should definitely mention that a lot of other services are included in the rates too such as complimentary valet (underground)parking, a limousine service within Crans Montana and each day you’ll receive a newspaper upon request.

The rooms at Guarda Golf hotel & residences are glorious, spacious and elegantly appointed. The dark wood made it even more romantic. Our room had a gorgeous king sized bed and the most comfortable sitting area with two comfortable couches. The oversized desk was perfect for doing some work and internet speed was excellent! By the way, each room comes with a minibar with complimentary soft drinks.

The balcony had picture perfect views over the surrounding areas. Beautiful!

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The luxurious bathroom featured a bathtub and an excellent shower! Water pressure was superb and 2 people could easily fit in! As most of you know, I’m a true fan of Bulgari toiletries and was happy to find out they provide those here!

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Enough things to do here! A must visit is the spa area! This is THE place to relax and unwind after a day in the mountains. It is just gorgeous. The indoor pool has a good size and water temperature is excellent! I felt great in the large sauna and steam room as it was freezing outside!

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They offer a large spa menu with several beauty treatments to choose from. I enjoyed a relaxing massage which was given by a talented spa therapist. She did an excellent job and made me feel reborn after the treatment. She was very knowledgeable about the products and took my preferences about the medium/soft pressure which I requested in mind. Loved every single minute of this wonderful beauty treatment. They’re real professionals here and the entire spa area is maintained in an excellent way! They use Eva.j products which is a Swiss-made line of products using only the best, biological ingredients, certified for Swiss pharmaceuticals.

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Guarda Golf hotel & residences is located near a 18 holes golf course, called Severiano Ballesteros. As it was the start of the winter season, we weren’t able to play golf, but they do offer an indoor golf facility as well. Very cool!

The ski slopes are only a short drive from the hotel. We took advantage of the wonderful complimentary limousine service and they took us to the slopes in their brand new Mercedes. The ski area at Crans Montana is stunning. With 23 lifts and 140 km of ski slopes, this is a perfect place to enjoy several days of winter fun. I was happy to find out there are many blue and red slopes as I’m not a fan of black slopes. What I liked about this ski area is that it is not over crowded. We never had to wait at the lifts and the whole area is connected in a very convenient way.

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Back to the hotel, as you would expect from a hotel of this class, they offer several gourmet dining options for their guests. The first night we had dinner at the Guarda Golf Lounge with a more international all round cuisine. As we arrived pretty late in the evening and since we were a bit tired, we enjoyed a more casual dinner. The food here was to die for and service was top notch! A must try is their crème brulee! The most beautiful crème brulee I have ever seen. Period!

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Mizuki by Kakinuma is their fine dining restaurant and is one of the better restaurants in Crans-Montana. We thoroughly enjoyed our dinner here the second night. This restaurant offers an authentic Japanese cuisine in a unique setting. The décor is stylish and the panoramic views over the mountains is fantastic! The food really is out of this world and each plate was like a picture. As a starter we just had to try the suhi and we loved every single bite. For the main course we enjoyed a traditional hot pot called Marmite Sukiyaki with thin slices of beef and a selection of fresh vegetables in a sweet and salty soy bouillon, served with a raw egg on the side.

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Guarda Golf hotel & residences recently underwent expansion works which are completed this week and I just had to see the new expansions myself! They added 7 luxury three-bedrooms suite apartments – and trust me, I wouldn’t just call them apartments but presidential suites instead, a library, private dining space, an adults and children’s games room, a cigar lounge and a private cinema honoring the legendary James Bond actor who used to be a loyal guest for many years. Let me share some pictures!

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As you read, I really liked our stay at Guarda Golf hotel & residences. From the moment I stepped in to the moment I checked out, we enjoyed every single minute here and we can’t wait to return to this jewel in the Swiss Alps! Five stars all the way!

Four Seasons Des Bergues – Geneva

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Hotelchain: Four Seasons
Location: Geneva – Switzerland
Classification: 5 star hotel
Official websitefourseasons.com/geneva

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Located in the center of beautiful Geneva, Four Seasons hotel des Bergues is an ultra luxurious five star hotel decorated by the renowned architect Pierre-Yves Rochon. The hotel was built back in 1834 and is still one of the best hotels Geneva has to offer! Four Seasons is famous for their amazing flowers and interior designs. As soon as you enter the hotel, you will enter a place with eye for attention and details.

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With ‘only’ 115 rooms, this is not a very large hotel and that’s why they are able to provide a personal service to their guests. Right upon arrival, guests are pampered… nothing is asked for too much, really.

Each room is elegant and decorated with high quality materials. In a hotel like this, they really should keep the tradition of the old days. I liked the ‘old fashioned’ themed rooms. With plush king sized beds and the most comfortable sitting areas, you can in room all day long!

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Marble bathrooms are nice and feature oversized bathtubs and walk-in showers. Bulgari toiletries are offered and most of you know that those are my number one toiletries! 🙂

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One of the highlights at Four Seasons hotel Des Bergues is the rooftop spa with heated pool, sauna, steam rooms, etc. In most hotels spa areas are located on one of the lower floors, but here you are able to see the city while relaxing! I was surprised that the area has a totally different styling comparing to the rest of the hotel. It has a contemporary modern feeling which I loved very much! The adjoining fitness center has the most comfortable equipment one could wish for. Several body treatments are available. Trust me, this is the best place to relax and unwind after a day exploring the city!

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Four Seasons hotel Des Bergues has three restaurants. Their signature restaurant Il Lago has been awarded with one Michelin star and the food here truly is outstanding! Located near the spa area is Izumi, a Japanese fusion restaurant.

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Le Bar des Bergues offers inventive and delicious cocktails as well as an all-day dining menu. Again, food is outstanding and we thoroughly enjoyed lunch here. Do not forget to try one of the delicious desserts! They are to die for!

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The rooftop of Four Seasons des Bergues is fantastic and offers picture perfect views over Geneva!

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Four Seasons des Bergues is an exceptional five star hotel with an impeccable service – as a Four Seasons hotel should be! Guests are treated as royalty here without being over the top. Every staff member I met was friendly and greeted us with a smile! Highly recommended for a luxurious getaway in Geneva!

Pillows Grand Hotel Place Rouppe – Brussels

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Hotelchain: Pillows Hotels
Location: Brussels – Belgium
Classification: 4 star hotel
Official websitepillowshotels.com/brussels

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Pillows Grand Hotel Place Rouppe is one of the best four star boutique hotel I know in our beautiful capital of Brussels. This hotel recently had a complete make over and I loved loved loved my stay here! The location is excellent, the beautiful city center with the spectacular Grand Place is only a 10 minute walk away. On your way to the city center, you will pass the famous Manneken Pis.

With only 43 rooms, Pillows Grand Hotel Place Rouppe is a small hotel which is why they are able to treat their guests in a very personal way. Right upon arrival, we were welcomed with a smile and everything we needed to know about the hotel was told in a very kind way. Checking in while enjoying a welcome drink is always a nice start! I immediately noticed the most comfortable and trendy couches in the lobby area which they call the ‘Living’ – and I can easily see why… this is a perfect place to work, unwind or reading while meeting fellow travelers all over the world. I must highlight the beautiful art work and soft colors they used to decorate the hotel.

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After the wonderful check-in, we were ready to check out the rooms. The room we stayed in was very comfortable and featured one of the best beds I have slept in! They are wonderful! The room looked brand new and had a descent size. I enjoyed the French balcony with picture perfect views over Place Rouppe. Other things I appreciated was the Nespresso coffee machine and separate toilet. Bathroom had walk-in shower and single sink. The Pillows toiletries smelled amazing! Every night, turn down service is offered which is seldom at a four star hotel… another advantage of this great hotel!

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The hotel opened a couple of months ago and they are about to open a brand new spa area which will be opened in the first quarter of 2018. Guests will be able to use a brand new fitness facility, a sauna and steam room. Spa treatments will be offered as well. Do note that only a few hotels in Brussels offer wellness facilities, especially right in the center of Brussels!

What I liked most about our stay, was their restaurant The Living Room’s Domestic Kitchen which is headed by Chef Trung Hoang. He is an excellent chef and worked at The Dorchester in London (***), Va Doux Vent (*) in Uccle and La Durrée (**) in Izegem. The restaurant is beautifully decorated and the staff was very professional and knowledgeable about each dish. The whole dining experience took 2 hours and we thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it. This showed that this restaurant and the management is progressive and strived to make a better dining experience. As a starter we enjoyed an asparagus soup followed by salmon … An exceptional dish of autumn colors and flavors with the salmon dressed with radicchio. The duck – as a main course – was absolutely delicious and was the best duck I have ever eaten, hands down! The merengue which we had for dessert was yummie… I could eat this every single day J Make sure to book your table here, you won’t be disappointed!

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After a great night, we were ready for breakfast! After our dining experience of the previous evening, our expectations were high and I’m happy to point out they were met again! What a wonderful breakfast they serve at Pillows Grand Hotel Place. This definitely is not a standard breakfast… it is an à la carte breakfast in combination with a (small) buffet with high quality products. The Greek Yoghurt with granola and honey was to die for. Again, service was top notch!

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Pillows Grand Hotel Place Rouppe is a one of the best rated hotels in Brussels and I can easily see why. The location is very convenient, the rooms are wonderful, the food is delicious and the service is outstanding! I loved every minute of my stay here and can’t wait to return!