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Things to do in Brussels

Commune with the past at Laeken Cemetery

Laeken Cemetery is a brilliant exponent of 19th century funereal art, and has often been considered the little brother of the renowned Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris. Copper statues and figurines of mourners are dotted throughout, and you can find info on a tour of the hotspots from the tourist office (www.belgium-tourism.be).

Get your haggle on at the flea market

The Marolles Flea Market at Place du Jeu de Balle is a pillar of the Brussels community, and operates 365 days a year. It's open 0600 to 1400 weekdays, 0600 to 1500 weekends, and if you're prepared to do some digging, you'll find some pearls twinkling in the oceans of bric a brac. For more info, speak to the tourist office (www.belgium-tourism.be).

Learn how to draw your own comic strip

“I’ll go to Brussels,” you said. “Drink some beer, eat some mussels, get confused about the origination of the Flemish language,” you said. You probably didn’t consider learning how to draw your own comic strip to be a part of your likely itinerary. Well, thanks to De Marck’s comic workshops (tel: +32 475 47 87 28) you can fully embrace your inner Stan Lee.

Step back in time at Le Cirio

This grand cafe opened its doors back in 1886, and has been indulging its customers in Belgian hospitality ever since. The interior of Le Cirio (tel: +32 25 12 13 95) has a waft of opulence, but the prices aren't actually too bad. You'll also find a good smattering of locals in amongst the tourists.

Visit the Musical Instrument Museum

Brussel’s Musical Instrument Museum (tel: +32 2 545 01 30; www.mim.be) is a haven for anyone interested in music's new and distant past. With over 8,000 instruments on show, it’s got everything covered, whether you’re interested in guitars, African slit drums, or bagpipes made out of bones.

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The Dominican

Part of the Carlton hotel group, The Dominican is the place to come if you want to be pampered while on a break in Brussels. It takes its name from the Dominican abbey which was originally built on this site in the 1400s. Its design is first rate, taking on the hushed feel of the abbey’s cloisters. Rooms are huge, the beds vast and the breakfast top notch.

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.