To be true, I don't know what other people usually demand from a 4-star hotel, but personally I expect to get at least a clean and quiet room. The first room I was assigned at the Cascade Midi Brussels hotel was neither clean nor quiet.
OK, here comes the full (sadly pretty long) story:
I arrived after a long and tiring journey late at night at the Cascade Midi. The friendly gentlemen at the front desk gave me a room on the 7th floor - facing the rail-road tracks. When I finally wanted to go to bed I detected two yucky looking spots on the bed sheet; each measured roughly 1 inch in diameter (see photos). It escapes my mind how housekeeping could have overseen such a stained sheet!
Anyway: It was in the middle of the night, it was a king size bed and the stains were “only” on one side of the sheet. The rest of the sheet seemed to be OK so I decided to cover the stain with a towel and to sleep on the other side of the bed. Of course I wanted to talk to the front desk the next morning to make sure that I would get a clean sheet for the following 2 nights I was staying at the hotel.
Then, a couple of hours later, shortly before dawn I heard how a train was rolling into the Midi (Southern) train station. It was not particularly loud - but still clearly audible. The window (probably only double glazing instead of the necessary triple glazing) was closed by the way. And another train and then yet another train followed. You've probably guessed it already by now: It was impossible for me to sleep in that room and I asked the person at the front desk to please give me another room. Without further ado he gave me a room on the 6th floor - facing the ugly backyard (see photo).
Anyhow: The contemporary designed room was quiet (no noise from trains entering the station) and it also appeared to be pretty clean. Only drawback of that room compared to the previous one was that the bathroom was substantially smaller - but I could live with that detail. There was a bathtub with shower. Amenities were sparse; for example there was no separate shampoo available, just the one-for-all shampoo-and-soap dispenser which reminds me more of a 2 or 3 star hotel than a (supposedly) 4-star hotel.
The powerful a/c (air conditioning) in the room worked very well. The room also had an electronic in-room safe, but I think I didn't see any user manual. Unfortunately, there was also neither a kettle nor a coffee-maker in the room. The flat-screen TV was good, with a lot of programs in various languages, but the brightness of the screen changed slightly on its own every few seconds.
After such as bad start, I tried my best to feel comfortable in that hotel. So later that day I decided to have a drink at the hotel bar. That was largely wishful thinking because a staff member soon explained to me that the bar was closed during the summer months. But he asked me if I wanted something from the bar and so I actually got to have a drink at the hotel bar - even though it was officially closed.
In the lobby area they have a desktop computer with a highly welcome printer that guests can use for free for example for printing boarding passes. I didn't try the WiFi system as I had access to the Internet somehow else most of the time.
I've paid 48 Euros (42 £ / 64 USD) per night - without breakfast however. Front desk advised me that breakfast would cost 15 Euros extra per day and person. I decided to try breakfast the second morning of my stay and overall I'd say breakfast was good. Not as good as at other 4 star hotels I know of but it was OK. The hotel restaurant itself has a very modern look!
The person on duty in the restaurant was very friendly and for example immediately replenished the spoons when they run out and so on. Nevertheless 15 Euros is too much for what was on offer. 10 Euros would have been adequate, especially on weekends where they - as it seems - offer less choices than on weekdays.
By the way: Upon checkout you have to pay the Brussels City Tax (in French: “Taxe sur les établissements hôteliers”, which I think is generally not included in the hotel prices of the hotels in Brussels) which was around 7 Euros per night.
There are a couple of alternative options for breakfast (and dinner by the way) around the Midi train station, especially at the Horta Square, which is located on the opposite side of the tracks (you basically just walk straight through the train station to get there) and where there are a couple of nice restaurants and bars catering to the Eurostar and Thalys travellers. However, on weekends they seem to open later than on weekdays (9 am or 10 am?).
As other reviewers have mentioned already, the immediate area around the Midi train station is a bit rough with some homeless people sleeping there at night. Otherwise the general area is OK. The Midi train station is much nicer than the Northern train station in Brussels for example. If you can afford it and absolutely want/need to be near a train station in Brussels, then I'd suggest staying at one of the hotels near the Central train station, the nicest of the three main train stations in Brussels city.
Next to the Midi train station there were also a bus, a tram and a metro (underground / subway) station. From Brussels National airport there's a direct train connection to Midi train station (journey time was less than 30 minutes and cost less than 10 Euros if I remember correctly). So the hotel is also very convenient for travellers that arrive in Brussels by air.
As luck would have it, the hotel was not fully booked (70% occupancy rate as one of the staff members told me) so it was no problem to change rooms. And every major problem I had was somehow professionally resolved by one of the staff members (that's the reason by the way why I gave this hotel 3 stars instead of only 2). But: I simply experienced too many problems at the Cascade Midi Hotel to even consider returning there any time soon.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Novotel Brussels Centre Midi Station, located opposite the Gare du Midi train station, arrival station for Thalys, Eurostar and ICE, and just 1.2 miles (2 km) from the Grand-Place of Brussels. In addition to its 93 spacious and air-conditioned rooms, the hotel proposes free WiFi, a bar and a secured underground parking. The Novotel Brussels Centre Midi Station is ideally located if you wish to discover Brussels, not far from The Square, The Egg, European Community, Expo and Atomium. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Novotel Brussels Midi Station Belgium