Hidden Belgium: Soak in a Japanese bathhouse

Hidden Belgium: Soak in a Japanese bathhouse

Brussels used to be a city of grey concrete hotels. Not any more. The city now has many cool places where you can bed down in a room that feels like Berlin or Amsterdam.

The new wave of hotels includes the Jam Hotel in Saint-Gilles where local designer Lionel Jadot has hollowed out an abandoned 1970s brutalist building once occupied by the St Luke architecture school. He has reshaped the interior in a hip industrial style that makes an affordable base for bohemian travellers.

The rooms come in all sizes from shared dormitory rooms to singles. There are also classic doubles and six-bed rooms that would suit a family with kids.

Take the lift to the sixth floor and you can perch on a stool next to a narrow swimming pool gazing over the red tiled roofs of Saint Gilles. There’s also a small indoor bar with vintage furniture, bookshelves made from concrete pipes and a log fire lit on cold days.

The hotel recently became the first in Brussels to install a Japanese-style Atsukan bathhouse. You pad around in a Japanese kimono while sipping a saké. The ten traditional wooden bathtubs are surrounded by patchwork curtains and lit with lanterns to get you in the right mood. The handpainted signs in Japanese add to the sense that you are somewhere in Tokyo.

The message here is that a hotel can be fun. Even in Brussels.

Derek Blyth’s hidden secret of the day: Derek Blyth is the author of the bestselling “The 500 Hidden Secrets of Belgium”. He picks out one of his favourite hidden secrets for The Brussels Times every day.

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