Brussels - Where to Stay for first time travelers

Where to Stay in Brussels for a first time visit? An insider’s guide 2024

The City of Brussels, which is the topic of today’s blog, was once a small rural community on River Senne. Fast forward to today, it now proudly carries the name of Belgium’s capital. Here, the French and the Flemish communities are functioning well together. It is a bilingual city where the majority of citizens speak French.

As a major centre of politics, it is sometimes called the capital of the European Union. NATO headquarters is in Brussels, and the secretariat of the countries belonging to the Benelux group (Belgium, Luxemburg, and Nederlands).

The most densely populated region in Belgium is famous for its culinary uniqueness and gastronomic offer. Waffles, a diversity of chocolates, French fries, and a rich choice of beers will make you search for where to stay in Belgium right away.

Question: Where to stay in Brussels for a first-time visit?

Brussels is a welcoming city rich in history, culture, architecture, and gastronomic experiences. It is walkable, although you can choose among various means of transport.

If you’re wondering where to stay in Brussels, it’s good to know that the city has 6 districts that you can explore during your stay, but the most attractive and famous is the centre. The rest of them are:

  • Marolles, a place that displays the vibrant life of the locals
  • Sablon, which is known for its traditional medieval architecture
  • Ixelles, a district with very lively neighbourhoods
  • Saint Gilles, which is a cosmopolitan and very busy district, and
  • The European Quarter, which is a cultural and tourist attraction rather than a residential area

We know that different types of people require different advice on travel accommodations. This guide includes the best areas for

  • the first time visitor
  • Families
  • Couples
  • Luxury & Design
  • Solo-Traveler
  • on a budget

Are you more of a visual learner/travel planner?

Lucky for you, we’ve included a map with all of our favorite neighborhoods and handpicked hotels for all of your travel needs.

Check it out below to get a better idea of where you should stay for your first or next visit to the Brussels.

Looking for more travel destinations? We also have a guide to 7 days in Germany.

(This guide is always up to date, the last updated April 2024.)

But, first things first:

Here is the question: Where to stay in Brussels for a first-time visit?

The answer is simple: Brussels City Center

Paved by cobbled streets and decorated with 17th-century architecture, the area known as the “Pentagon” is the most significant in the city. Overall, the city centre is home to some of the major tourist attractions.

Some of them include:

  • Grand Palace (Grote Markt)
  • Manneken Pis
  • Royal Gallery of Saint Huber
  • Saint-Michael and Saint-Gudula Cathedral

Why do we recommend these areas?

Grand Palace (Grote Markt)- Glamour, aesthetics, and decorative imagery make the Grand Palace one of the most beautiful squares in the world. The King’s House, together with the City Hall, as well as many guild houses, are located at the square.

Manneken Pis, the landmark of Brussels and the most visited attraction, represents a small boy urinating in a fountain. According to the legend, the boy was awakened by the big fire and peed, trying to stop the flames from destroying the king’s castle.

The Royal Gallery of Saint Huber is complemented by luxurious shops, cosy cafes, restaurants, and apartments. You can enjoy a visit to a cinema or a theatre. Within the gallery complex is the famous Taverne du Passage, once a gathering place for surrealist painters and writers such as Edgar Quinet, Alexandre Duma, and Victor Hugo during the 19th century.

Saint-Michael and St. Gudula church is dedicated to the patron of the city. The Gothic architecture is impressive on the outside of the cathedral, making it a must-visit location.

And now, let’s help you decide where to stay in Brussels.

Here’s a full map for you to understand the different areas.

Please note: those might not be the exact names of the districts, neither its absolute borders. I just tried to simplify this information.

📍Best Area:Brussels City Center (Grand-Place)
👨‍👩‍👧‍👦 Best for Families:Moxy Brussels City Center
👩‍❤️‍👨 Best for Couples:Aqua Hotel Brussels
💎 Best Luxury HotelHotel Le Châtelain
🤩 Best Design Hotel:Hotel Manos Premier
😎 Best for Groups:Aris Grand Place Hotel
🦸 Best for Solo-Traveller:2GO4 Quality Hostel
💃 Best Hotel for Nightlife:Brussels Marriott Hotel Grand Place
🤑 Cheapest Place to stay:Studio à Ixelles – Viaduc
👌 Safest Area: Ixelles (Elsene)

1. Best areas and handpicked hotels for Brussels

The historical and architectural sights in Brussels will surely amaze you. In fact, many of the attractions are declared UNESCO Heritage Sites. The main square Grand Place, Manneken Pis, and the Atomium are just some of the must-visit locations. There are many museums, as well, such as the Museum of Art and History or La Monnaie/De Munt.

The city has oceanic climate conditions with warm summers and cool winters. If you’re wondering which is the best time to visit, I recommend going here between March and May, or during September and October.

When it comes to language, Belgium is a country of three officially spoken languages: French, Dutch, and German. Locals also speak English.

Continue scrolling or pick your group and travel type on the menu:

1.1 Families
1.2 Couples
1.3 Luxury Traveler
1.4 Design Traveler
1.5 Groups
1.6 Solo-Traveler
1.7 Nightlife-seeking traveler
1.8 Budget Traveler

1.1 Families

Brussels is a perfect getaway for a family. Your kids will have a delightful time here, feeling as if the comic heroes are “watching” them from the city’s walls. There are also many interesting monuments and museums to visit once you figure out where to stay in Brussels.

Ixelles (Elsene)

There is a diversity of attractions in this south-east municipality of the city. The district is full of students, because of the two universities there. The young population is a reason for this area to be very lively and an important spot for the nightlife.

Ixelles has several trendy districts, including Châtelain, Toison d’or, and Matonge, which are interesting due to the visible African influence.

Saint-Gilles (Sint-Gillis)

Being a neighbouring district to Ixelle, this one isn’t much different. You can enjoy many trendy cafes, restaurants, and bars feeling the cosmopolitan spirit and lively vibes. A rich artistic heritage, the Art Nouveau mansions, and neo-renaissance buildings are set in such an admiring mode to impress you.

As you come to the main square, you will find many nice restaurants and bistros, as well as some great places to stay in Brussels.

Handpicked accommodations for families

Moxy Brussels City Center, Ixelles (Elsene)

Moxy Brussels City Center will allow you to enjoy your stay in Brussels in a perfect setting. Buffet breakfast will be waiting for you every morning before you start the stroll around the city. Inside the rooms, there is a private bathroom, a flat-screen TV, and free Wi-Fi. You can take advantage of the terrace, shared lounge, and fitness centre.

Book Moxy Brussels City Center here

Relax and unwind at Moxy Brussels City Center

Have a great time at Moxy Brussels City Center

Catalonia Brussels, Saint-Gilles (Sint-Gillis)

Catalonia Brussels is a cosy and very modern accommodation featuring rooms with wooden furniture, colourful paintings, and a marble bathroom. In the morning, you can enjoy a buffet breakfast and if you prefer to dine at the hotel, there is a á la carte restaurant. The rooms are air-conditioned with a satellite TV. Many important iconic sights are near you, making this a great option for where to stay in Brussels.

Book Catalonia Brussels here

Private room at Catalonia Brussels

Have a pleasant stay at Catalonia Brussels

 1.2 Couples

Brussels is a romantic city and a great destination for couples who want to explore beautiful monuments, stylish architectural gems, and cobbled streets made for long romantic walks. Among the things you can do while in Brussels, don’t forget to visit the Park du Cinquanttenarie, the cathedral, and the Royal Museum. Together with your loved one, indulge in the delights of famous chocolateries, try Belgian fine dining, and join a brewery tour.

Ixelles (Elsene)

A romantic walk through Ixelles, one of the most vibrant districts, can revive your love and rejuvenate your relationship. Treat yourself to a shopping spree here. Nightout will be a superb plan for a couple in one of the restaurants or cocktail bars in the area.

Moreover, do not miss to visit the Museum of Constantin Meunier, Place du Châtelan, enjoy paintings of numerous artists in “Happy Day”, or spend some time at Luxembourg Square.

Saint-Gilles (Sint-Gillis)

This neighbourhood is an unbelievably vibrant place where you can no longer feel the city vibes. All of a sudden, you’ll turn into a couple who enjoys the village way of life among the locals.

Visit the local restaurants and small shops, most of which are organic and sustainable. Many artists reside in this district, making this one of the best places to stay in Brussels.

Handpicked accommodations for couples

Aqua Hotel Brussels, Ixelles (Elsene)

Aqua Hotel Brussels offers modern and bright rooms, decorated with design furniture, giving you a feeling of cosiness. There is a gym and a breakfast room in the hotel. Porte de Namur metro station is only a 2-minute walk away.

Book Aqua Hotel Brussels here

Make yourself at home at Aqua Hotel Brussels

Enjoy your time at Aqua Hotel Brussels

Suite lumineuse à Saint-Gilles, Saint-Gilles (Sint-Gillis)

A very convenient atmosphere will make your stay pleasant and memorable. A garden and a picnic area are at your disposal, and Suite lumineuse à Saint-Gilles offers a kitchenette, a shower, and a flat-screen TV. Most of the attractive places to visit are not more than 3-4 km away from your accommodation.

Book Suite lumineuse à Saint-Gilles here

Experience comfort at Suite lumineuse à Saint-Gilles

Have a wonderful stay at Suite lumineuse à Saint-Gilles

1.3 Luxury traveler

Brussels is home to a million inhabitants and 6 times as many tourists annually, but it still has a place for everybody’s needs. It’s a great city for those who appreciate culture, architecture, and history.

To experience a luxurious stay here, go on a private tour around the city, enjoy some shopping time, and visit the Waterloo Battleground. Do not miss out on hearing and seeing the chocolate story or attending a waffle-making workshop. Fine dining is guaranteed in a variety of restaurants.

And now, let’s explore where to stay in Brussels for those who admire luxury;

Avenue Louise/Loizalaan

If you ask about a nice district to stay in, this one is definitely on the top. Assumed as one of the most prestigious and expensive avenues, it will offer entering into the most expensive and luxurious boutiques.

Ixelles (Elsene)

People in Brussels say that this is one of the safest areas in the city. Rue de Belle-Vue in Ixelles is one of the wealthiest neighbourhoods in Brussels, so if you’re a luxury traveller, lodge here and visit the rest of the city by foot, car, or bus.

Handpicked accommodations for the luxury traveler

Hotel Le Châtelain, Avenue Louise/Louizalaan

Hotel Le Châtelain has a peaceful garden in the courtyard and the terrace under the grapevine shade will give you the feeling of relaxation and indulgence. A classically furnished room with a minibar and a bathrobe in your bathroom will make the stay in your room a true bliss.

In summer, you can enjoy a cup of coffee and a pastry in the courtyard. Moreover, you can dine in La Maison du Châtalain, which is a truly unique experience.

Book Hotel Le Châtelain here

Enjoy your stay at Hotel Le Châtelain

Have fun at Hotel Le Châtelain

Steigenberger Icon Wiltcher’s, Ixelles (Elsene)

Looking for where to stay in Brussels? Steigenberger Icon Wiltcher’s is perfect for luxury travellers. The spacious air-conditioned rooms with a seating area will give you a feeling of commodity.

You can spend some time at the fitness centre, using the swimming pool, or exercising in the gym. Going on a tour around the city after breakfast is also a great idea. Room service is at your disposal and a city view from the room is perfect for a cosy dinner “at home” after a long sightseeing day.

Book Steigenberger Icon Wiltcher’s here

Relax and unwind at Steigenberger Icon Wiltcher's

Have a great time at Steigenberger Icon Wiltcher's

1.4 Design-lovers

All of you who are attracted by architecture, and love beer and comics will find Belgium’s capital an extraordinary destination. Many museums will match your passion for art. So, this home of Art Nouveau architecture will be a paradise for a design traveller. Hotel Solvay and Maison Cauchie in the Schaerbeek suburb are open to the public, but it will be great if you plan, and make a reservation.

Therefore, let me introduce to you the best places to stay in Brussels so you can enjoy the city to the fullest!

Saint Gilles (Sint-Gills)

This area is bordered by the cities of Brussels, Anderlecht, Forest, and Ixelles. The diversity of the population in this district makes it a multicultural haven.

The museum of the famous architect Victor Horta is located here. Spectacular sites are Forest Park, the Church of St. Gilles, and Hôtel des Monnaies which are built in a Gothic style. Great starting point to explore Brussels.

Ixelles (Elsene)

Historically speaking, Ixelle is recognised for its large community of people from Africa. They are mostly inhabited around the Namur Gate and the Chaussee d’Ixelle, so the area got the nickname Matongué, after a marketplace in Kinshasa.

These African influential communities made the district interesting and a bit different. The main points of interest for a design traveller like you would be the three Brussels universities, interesting churches, and museums.

And now, let’s answer where to stay in Brussels!

Handpicked accommodations for the design lover

Hotel Manos Premier, Saint-Gilles (Sint-Gillis)

Hotel Manos Premier has a marble hall that gives an impression of royalty and the elegant rooms further enforce the feeling. The hotel restaurant with a big fountain on the terrace and a great offer of various specialties and refreshment drinks is a perfect dining area. It’s a tranquil place that can be enjoyed in a huge garden within the hotel or in the wellness centre with unique mosaics.

Book Hotel Manos Premier here

Private room at Hotel Manos Premier

Have a pleasant stay at Hotel Manos Premier

The Hotel Brussels, Ixelles (Elsene)

The Hotel Brussels is a 15-minute walk away from the Grand Palace, inside the tallest building in Brussels, you will find this nice hotel with spectacular panoramic views, a great restaurant, and a spa, wellness, and fitness centre. It’s certainly one of the most paradisical places to stay in Brussels.

Book The Hotel Brussels here

Make yourself at home at The Hotel Brussels

Enjoy your time at The Hotel Brussels

1.5 Groups

The original content offered by the city of Brussels guarantees a very interesting interactive journey around the city for members of different ages.

Brussels City Center (Grand Palace)

Being the central square of the city, the Grand Place is famous for its aesthetics, wealthy look, guild houses, the City Hall, and the King’s house. Apart from being an eye-pleasing sight, it’s also a place where many festivals and concerts are held, some of which are Brussels Jazz Weekend, Ommegang, Flower Carpet, and more.

Ixelles (Elsene)

This vibrant neighbourhood is the best place to stay in Brussels for a group visit. It is never too cold to stroll around with your group of friends and visit Flagy Square famous for the Art Deco buildings, or take a walk around the ponds of Ixelles.

You will also be surprised by the street art and many colourful murals or graffiti- perfect for Instagrammers from around the world. Your visit will be made special by trying the local cuisine, so don’t skip dining in the local restaurants.

Handpicked accommodations for groups

Aris Grand Place Hotel, Brussels City Center (Grand Place)

Aris Grand Place Hotel is an exquisite place to stay just 5 minute’s walk from the statue of the Manneken Pis! The en-suite room will welcome you as you finish your stroll around. In the morning, you can enjoy a delicious breakfast served by Lloyd Coffee Eatery. The seating area in the lobby enables you to meet people and make friends.

Book Aris Grand Place Hotel here

Experience comfort at Aris Grand Place Hotel

Have a wonderful stay at Aris Grand Place Hotel

Beverly Hills Hotel, Ixelles (Elsene)

Wondering where to stay in Brussels with your group of friends? You can choose the garden-side rooms in Beverly Hills Hotel near the Louise metro station. You will enjoy a tasty breakfast each morning and a flat-screen TV in your room. Each of the rooms has a private bathroom.

Book Beverly Hills Hotel here

Enjoy your stay at Beverly Hills Hotel

Have fun at Beverly Hills Hotel

1.6 Solo-travelers

Starting with an attribute of a beautiful city to mentioning museums, parks, and events I will assure you that Brussels is a great place for a solo traveller! Here, you can enjoy your holiday slowly, at your own pace.

Brussels City Center (Grand Palace)

The atmosphere and vibes that you are going to feel at this spot will make you want to explore each part of it. Staying in this area is perfect for a solo traveller since it is assumed to be very safe. All the attractions that make this spot interesting are built in a specific mix of Art Deco, Gothic, Baroque, and Renaissance styles.

The Gothic architectural uniqueness can be recognised in the City Hall building outside appearance. Dining places and cafes will give you a chance to relax and enjoy a break from strolling around.

And now, let’s discover where to stay in Brussels for the first time.

Etterbeek

This residential neighbourhood that fascinates with green areas and cultural attractions is an urban gem worth visiting while in the Brussels-Capital region. There is a very lively square Place Jourdan known for its cafes and restaurants where you can enjoy a sunny day. The local market is full of artisan-made products. Moreover, don’t forget to visit the Museum of Natural Science, which is one of the most impressive in the world.

Handpicked accommodations for a solo traveler

2GO4 Quality Hostel Brussels Grand Place, Brussels City Center

I doubt that a solo traveller will mind accommodation in the centre of Brussels, in a room with a private bathroom and shared kitchen. 2GO4 Quality Hostel is in a perfect spot!

Book 2GO4 Quality Hostel here

Relax and unwind at The Classic by 2GO4 Grand Place

Have a great time at The Classic by 2GO4 Grand Place

Etterbeek Youth Hostel, Etterbeek

A room with a shared bathroom and kitchen and a shared lounge will give you the possibility to meet people and make friends on your solo trip to Brussels. You can relax at the offered terrace and use the free WiFi throughout Etterbeek Youth Hostel.

Book Etterbeek Youth Hostel here

Private room at Etterbeek Youth Hostel

Have a pleasant stay at Etterbeek Youth Hostel

1.7 Nightlife Traveler

It is important to mention that Brussels offers great nightlife and can thus meet everybody’s taste. While here, you can go to the many cafes, bars, nightclubs, jazz clubs, and eateries. My suggestions are: a quirky bar Madam Moustache, Bonobo Bar, electronic music paradise Fuse, and a Brussels Jazz Club.

Wondering where to stay in Brussels if you’re looking for some late-night entertainment? Here are your best options;

Saint-Géry/Sint-Gorics

Starting with street performers and ending with clubs, pubs, bars, and late-night eateries, this part of the city is perfect for a nightlife seeker.

Ixelles (Elsene)

Many locals, tourists, and ex-pats who live in Brussels gather here for a contentful nightlife. No matter whether you are a live music lover or just want an evening out, Ixelle has it all.

Handpicked accommodations for nightlife

Brussels Marriott Hotel Grand Place, Saint-Géry/Sint-Goriks

What a nightlife seeker needs in the morning is a superb breakfast and a comfortable room with a private bathroom. You will enjoy a self-made coffee or tea and have satellite TV in Brussels Marriott Hotel Grand Place. The shopping district for later in the day is 800 m away from the hotel.

Book Brussels Marriott Hotel Grand Place here

Make yourself at home at Brussels Marriott Hotel Grand Place

Enjoy your time at Brussels Marriott Hotel Grand Place

Jardin Secret, Ixelles (Elsene)

You will wake up with a view of a beautiful garden, relax watching TV, and refresh in a private bathroom. In addition, there is also a secret garden with a swimming pool.

Jardin Secret is within a 20-minute walk from the Royal Palace, and several other attractions are also nearby!

Book Jardin Secret here

Private room at Jardin Secret

Have a pleasant stay at Jardin Secret

1.8 For the Budget Traveler

Not sure where to stay in Brussels while travelling on a budget? You’d be thrilled to hear that there are many possibilities, so let’s plan.

Saint-Gilles (Sint-Gillis)

Visiting and enjoying all that you are offered here and not overspending is indeed possible. You will use public transport, attend free events, enjoy the happy hour specialities, and go for picnics in the parks. Strolling around is free of charge!

Ixelles (Elsene)

The most attractive and vibrant neighbourhood is suitable for a budget traveller if using all the budget-friendly tips. Explore the street art, use affordable eateries, and attend free events.

Handpicked accommodations for budget traveler

Savoie, Saint-Gilles (Sint-Gillis)

All that you need to follow the budget-friendly tips is included in Savoie. The comfortable feeling when you have a balcony, equipped kitchen, private bathroom, and a flat-screen TV offers you a relaxing holiday time.

Book Savoie here

Make yourself at home at Savoie

Enjoy your time at Savoie

Studio à Ixelles – Viaduc, Ixelles (Elsene)

A bedroom, a fully equipped kitchen, and a private bathroom make this the ideal place to stay in Brussels. You have that and a WiFi. Place Royal and Magritte Museum are very close to Studio à Ixelles – Viaduc, so you have Brussels just outside the door.

Book Studio à Ixelles – Viaduc here

Experience comfort at Studio à Ixelles - Viaduc

Have a wonderful stay at Studio à Ixelles - Viaduc

2. Best Neighborhood to Stay in Brussels

Each of the best places to stay in Brussels offers comfortable accommodations, promising an enjoyable stay for whichever type of traveller you are. Anyhow, you’ll be able to explore different districts and enjoy the beauty and vibes of the city, including all its cultural, architectural, and modern attractions.

Some of the best ones I’d recommend are the following:

  • Ixelles (Elsene)
  • Brussels City Center (Grand-Place)
  • Saint-Gilles (Sint-Gillis)
  • European Quarter

FAQs

What is the best neighborhood to stay in Brussels?

The best neighborhood to stay in Brussels depends on your preferences and travel needs. However, many visitors recommend the Brussels City Center (Grand Place) for its central location, proximity to major attractions, and vibrant atmosphere. Other popular neighborhoods include Ixelles (Elsene) and Saint-Gilles (Sint-Gillis), known for their lively vibes, cultural diversity, and accessibility to amenities.

Where should you not stay in Brussels?

While Brussels is generally a safe city for travelers, there are certain areas that may not be as suitable for accommodation due to various factors such as safety concerns, lack of amenities, or distance from major attractions. It's advisable to avoid neighborhoods that are known for higher crime rates or are located far from the city center without convenient transportation options. Conducting thorough research and reading reviews can help you make an informed decision about where to stay.

What should I avoid in Brussels?

While Brussels is a fantastic destination, there are a few things visitors may want to avoid to ensure a pleasant experience. It's recommended to avoid tourist traps, especially around popular attractions like Manneken Pis, where prices may be inflated. Additionally, travelers should be cautious of pickpockets in crowded areas and should keep an eye on their belongings. It's also wise to avoid wandering into unfamiliar or poorly lit areas, especially at night.

Where should I stay in Brussels for the first time?

For first-time visitors to Brussels, the Brussels City Center (Grand Place) is often recommended as it offers easy access to major attractions such as the Grand Palace, Manneken Pis, and Saint-Michael and Saint-Gudula Cathedral. This area is also bustling with restaurants, cafes, and shops, making it convenient for travelers to explore on foot. Additionally, accommodations in this area cater to various budgets and preferences, making it an ideal choice for first-time visitors looking to experience the essence of Brussels.

 

Map + All Sights

Summary where to stay in Brussels

From the many attractions in the city centre to the calm village-like life and everything in between, Brussels is one of the most vibrant spots that can cater to each traveller’s wishes. I truly hope that these tips on where to stay in Brussels will be helpful for you. In case you need more travel inspiration and advice, don’t hesitate to check out my blog page.

Other European Destinations

Before you run off, here is a few more handwritten articles for you. These will help you to find more unique experiences and enjoy your holidays at fullest.

Any Questions?

There you have it. I hope you have no questions and found your home in my home town.

However, please remember: I am not perfect, and it is likely I missed a few things to point out.

Therefore: Do you have questions? Is anything not clear?

Please please please drop me a comment below with your email! I will reply to you ASAP via email and here in the comments.

In fact, your questions help me to make this article better. So I help you to help me.

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