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Shopping in Brussels

Shopping in Brussels runs the whole gamut from high-end boutiques to markets.

Key areas

A classic Brussels souvenir is chocolate. Fresh creamy pralines are for sale at Wittamer, Place du Grand Sablon. Another name to look out for is the top-quality Neuhaus, with several branches including one at Grand-Place 27.

Belgian biscuits are another gift guaranteed to bring a guilty smile to the receiver. Dandoy, Rue Charles Buis 14, produce melt-in-your-mouth macaroons and the Brussels speciality speculoos - a gingerbread biscuit with a crunch. Beermania, Chaussée de Wavre 174-176, stocks over 400 types of Belgian beer and glasses to suit.

Designer clothes shops and upmarket high-street stores are clustered around the smart avenue Louise and avenue de la Toison d'Or. Key shopping stops on avenue Louise include Caroline Biss, one of several fashion boutiques at number 21, for down-to-earth daywear in muted tones, and Les Enfants d'Edouard, at number 175, for vintage finds.

Children and adults' tastes alike are met at the many comic book shops in Brussels. Among these is centrally located La Boutique Tintin, Rue de la Colline 13. Brussels lace is for sale at Rubbrecht, Grand-Place 23, or at the city's largest lace maker, Manufacture Belge de Dentelle, Galerie de la Reine 6. Most of the souvenir lace shops around Grand-Place are less authentic.

Markets

Every day is market day in Brussels. Among the best is the flower market, Tuesday to Sunday at Grand-Place, also the site of the Sunday morning bird market. Antiques are sold at the market on Place du Grand Sablon, Saturday and Sunday morning, while the flea market at Place du Jeu de Balle, in the Marolles district, is open every morning.

Shopping centres

Chain stores dominate along the Rue Neuve, but more interesting fare can be found in the area between the Rue de Midi and the Grand-Place. A highlight is Les Galeries Royales St Hubert, a cool and elegant arcade dating from the 1840s, which is now home to many designer shops.

Opening hours

Standard shopping hours in Brussels are 1000-1800/1900 but the Grand-Place area stays open until approximately 2000. Most shops are closed on Sundays, except for a handful of markets and those stores around Grand-Place.

Souvenirs

Souvenirs to look out for include chocolate (pralines and truffles are the most popular), biscuits, beer (look out for Leffe, Chimay, all brands of kriek, and Duvel), lacework and Tintin memorabilia.

Tax information

Sales tax in Brussels is 21% and can be refunded to non-EU citizens by any of the shops affiliated to Global Refund. Participating shops will issue a global refund cheque, which should be stamped at customs.

A digital image at https://illuminoto.com

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Hotel Metropole Brussels

The 19th-century Hotel Metropole, with its grand art nouveau interior, is the first choice for those wishing to combine a lust for nostalgia with a need for modern comfort. A stone's throw from the Grand-Place, this palatial hotel offers a truly grand entrance hall and an Italian baroque style restaurant, L'Alban Chambon. There are 283 comfortable rooms and 15 suites, many decorated with drapes, swags and chandeliers.

Hotel Amigo Brussels

Although within short walking distance of the bustling Grand-Place, the Rocco Forte Hotel Amigo is a haven of calm and comfort. The building served as a prison in the 16th century and opened as a luxury hotel in 1957. Furnished with rich tapestries and antiques, it offers a friendly welcome and has a restaurant and cocktail bar, meeting rooms and a banqueting suite. The décor of the 176 rooms and suites blends contemporary elegance with dashes of colour and humour - Hergé characters and Magritte graphics appear here and there.

Odette En Ville

This design-led boutique hotel, in the beautiful Chatelain quarter, nods towards classic film noir sets with luxurious decor that isn’t stuffy and sleek, cosy rooms. There are even art and photography books for sale here. Guests can score a massage or treatment at Serendip Spa round the corner at a discounted rate.

Made In Louise

Located just outside the city centre, Made In Louise has earned a reputation as Brussels’ hottest boutique hotel. Family run, the attention to detail runs deep, from the individually designed bedrooms through to the excellent tips on local bars and restaurants. The breakfast is spectacular, so be sure to get up early enough for it.

NH Stephanie

With crisply decorated, modern rooms, this hotel is excellent value for money for those who don't mind staying a little over 1km (0.6 miles) outside of the city centre. A good breakfast is included and the superior rooms feature thoughtful extras such as free, Wi-Fi, coffee making machines and a choice of pillows.