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I am a Denver-based writer, travel lover, and author of The Drive North: A Swing Down Memory Lane. I have several other pieces, including fiction, in the works.

A Stay at the Hotel Sofitel Brussels Le Louise

I left the Hotel Sofitel Brussels Le Louise in a cab to the airport feeling pretty good. I had some problems the previous night, but it seemed as though they’d be ironed out and the manager would let me know the outcome. I had faith since it was a nice hotel, but then I realized it – I was being ignored. And there is nothing more I hate than being ignored.
I was booked into the Hotel Sofitel Brussels Le Louise while on a RIAS Berlin Kommission trip. Our group of journalists were in town to attend meetings at the European Commission and NATO. I was excited about all of the possibilities presented to us for our time in Brussels, including a stay at the Hotel Sofitel, but sometimes things never quite work out as I hope.
The room was nice – as it darned well better be for over four hundred Euros a night – and the hotel was in a good location. I loved the classy feeling of the lobby and I was all around pleased with the feeling. Well, that was the case until my last night there.
We were at the Hotel Sofitel Brussels Le Louise for a few nights, enjoying the sites and attending our meetings, and all seemed to be going relatively well. There was only one exception to that: the breakfast. They gave our gorup a private breakfast reception each morning, but the food was always the cold – as in the bacon, eggs, and everything else was left in the warmers for so long that it was cold. But this was no where near as problematic as the issue we had in the bar on our final night.
Our RIAS group had gone out for a celebratory dinner on the last evening of our fellowship. It was fantastic and everything with the program was amazing, just as it was when I participated twelve years ago. But when we gathered in the bar of the Hotel Sofitel Brussels Le Louise for one last celebratory drink, it reminded me why I hate staying in high-end hotels: the service always sucks.
The bar manager and our waiter were not only bad at what they did, but they were down right rude to our group. This upset me so much that I complained to the hotel’s front desk. I was told that my message would be passed on to the manager, as would my business card. Upon checkout the next morning, I was told by a different clerk that they would have the manager contact me right away to settle the issue.
This never happened. Instead, I was ignored. So when it came to making a customer happy, the Hotel Sofitel Brussels Le Louise downright failed.
I wanted to love the hotel. The rooms were comfortable, especially the beds, the lobby was beautiful, and it was in a good location. But when I’m promised a contact over a complaint and it doesn’t happen, that just settles it for me: I will never again stay at the Hotel Sofitel Brussles Le Louise nor will I ever give it anything other than a poor review.
In all due fairness and disclosure, I did not pay for my room. The RIAS Berlin Kommission paid for it. But that’s what upset me all the more. The reason why we had our private breakfasts, so we were told, was because of an issue during the previous group’s stay in town; they had to book another hotel at the last minute, since the Sofitel booted them in favor of other guests.
So not only was the previous group treated poorly, but so were we through the make up gesture of the hotel with the cold breakfasts, through the poor treatment in the bar during our celebration, and in the lack of a response by the management. I hope I am mistaken about the last item and that they contacted RIAS to work out the issues, but I am not going to hold my breath on that point, since I left a personal business card. That contact never happened nor do I have any reason to believe they apologized to anyone else.
In the end, my stay at the Hotel Sofitel Brussels Le Louise was nothing short of disappointinting. Even though we likely received a group rate in favor of the 400 Euro nightly rate, too much was paid to stay at such an establishment that is an embarrassment to what I understood to be a strong and reputable name. I guess, though, that the reputation is simply in the manner of being poor.
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