When I’m travelling, I typically stay in hostel dorm rooms because it’s generally less expensive. Hostels can be great places to meet other travelers which can be a big priority, especially when travelling alone. However, there are certainly less enjoyable aspects of huge dorm rooms, like sharing bathrooms with lots of other people and having little control over privacy or noise, so sometimes I need a break from hostels.
The Friday night before, Tahvi, Dylan, and I stayed in a very cramped, eight-person dorm room, at the top of five steep flights of narrow stairs; the bathroom was a toilet, sink, and showerhead but there were no shower walls so everything inevitably got wet when someone used it, and there was little ventilation in the room or bathroom so it was humid and full of condensation quickly. The only storage locker was precariously placed in a way that made it challenging to open the dorm room door at all. I’ve definitely stayed in worse hostels, but we weren’t exactly impressed or comfortable. On our first day in Belgium, we decided to spring for something a little nicer since we were splitting costs three ways and found a private room at the Residence Les Ecrins that cost about 30 euros a bed.
When we booked Les Ecrins, we knew we’d have a little more privacy and space, but we didn’t realize we would have such an amazing room for less than the cost of the previous (much less enjoyable) hostel bed! To our surprise, we had an entire kitchen and spacious living room area, complete with a desk, couch, fridge and stove, and huge windows that let us look out into the quant streets of Brussels. Between the three of us, we had a queen bed and a twin, though Dylan ended up sleeping on the couch as it was slightly cooler in the living room.
The man who ran the hostel was warm and friendly, and readily available when we had questions about how to use our room keys and where to catch a taxi. The next morning, we ate breakfast at Les Ecrins which was included in the price, and were treated to a huge plate of breads and croissants, a variety of butters, cheeses, and jams, orange juice, and coffee for everyone. Opting to sit in the cozy dining patio outside, we enjoyed a leisurely breakfast before catching our next train, marveling at our good luck with our accommodations.
I highly recommend Les Ecrins to anyone travelling through Brussels – it’s a great location and amazing value, especially when split with a group. This was also a great reminder for me to do my thorough research! Sometimes you can find high quality accommodations with more privacy and comfort without paying much more than a hostel. Though occasionally this means you’re a bit further from the central city, it can be totally worth an extra ten-minute walk to save a few dollars, get a better night’s sleep, and take a nice shower that actually leaves you feeling clean. In this case, we were only six minutes from the city center!
Where are the best spots you’ve found to stay in Belgium?