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Located in the heart of Brussels, very close indeed to the Grand Place, the Amigo Hotel is nicely tucked into an old school building. This is a formidable hotel where the demographic is not the hip and young but rather the old and moneyed.

The staff at the front desk is old school too, a bit stuffy and with varying levels of obsequiousness that don’t quite ring true. This is not your California front desk staff of happy kids. OK then.

Overnight, the staff swap led to some people who knew how to relax a notch, and that was nice.

The lobby is beige and marble. Come to think of it, there is lots of beige here in this room as well. I think the olds like beige.

We were upgraded from an expensive junior suite to an even more expensive classic suite. They did email and attempt to upsell the bigger suite, and we just responded that a complementary upgrade would be great. That seems to have worked. So thanks for the free upgrade!

We were assigned suite 237. This looks like the example room from this suite category. Plenty of room to hang out, a great bathroom, etc. “Pretty not bad” as my friend Sammy would say.

237 couch and desk room

The desk has a bluetooth speaker (bonus points)

The extra touches make all of the difference. Like a bluetooth speaker that you can pair a streaming phone with, and water by the bedside that is free (as it should be), and hangers that are real and solid.

Bedroom (mostly bed)

Through the French doors

Of course you should always get water (sparkling)

The room overlooks a classic Brussels street and into a set of offices.

Example view

The hall has lots of closet space, but it is not very well designed.

Closets could use some modernization

The bathroom is palatial. And there is a separate glass shower. “One of the better showers ever,” says ms NPS. Lots of marble.

Bathtub, toilet and bidet

Chair in the bathroom

Sink

Glass shower cube

The art is very nice and Tin Tin oriented.

An amenity with a personal note arrived while we were orienting. Belgian chocolates. Of course.

Amenity.

The bar downstairs is very good, with professional and knowledgeable bartenders who make a mean Negroni with Napue gin (from Helsinki).

A proper Negroni (up)

Napue gin from Helsinki

Local Belgian gins

Look who else has been here

Dinner at Comme Chez Soi was, like the hotel, on the old school side. Excellent food, especially if you like cream, butter, butter, and some caviar. Very heavy but outstanding. Plan to be full for two days.

Some Pomerol

Sauce! There is a cod under there somewhere.

Incredible tartine

Chocolates, because Belgium

With extra dipping sauce (lol)

The walk home helped to make up for the butter and the butter and the sauce and the cream. Kinda.

When in Brussels

Breakfast included a Belgian waffle (this was a mandatory item before we would be allowed to leave the country).

Bottom line: the Amigo is a five showerhead location, but is a bit old school for NPS. So four showerheads and an appointment to update the decor a notch for the Amigo. I imagine we will be back.

Yes, I know. Tradition and all that. Oakley Court will very likely turn out to be a great place to run a meeting (it was OK), but boy is it old school.

Oakley Court Maor

Oakley Court Maor

For example, there is a library, and an observatory, and a boat on the Thames. But the price of admission is a plastic shower and you know how we feel about those around here.

Room 206 is apparently quite the special room, but perhaps not outside the UK. Lets compare to the previous conference location, shall we? Heck, does hotel management even know that we caused this to happen?

Monterey, CA.

Hmm. No note, no ultra special room, no craft cocktails, no fireside chat setup, and no creativity to make any of it happen. Just sayin’.

So junior suite 206 looks like this.

Oh grandmother, is that you?

Oh grandmother, is that you?

Why yes my dear, is it time for high tea?

Why yes my dear, is it time for high tea?

Oakley Manor 206

Oakley Manor 206

And the downfall.

Nope

Nope

Old school solid state plumbing

Old school solid state plumbing

And there are some things we just don’t understand, like this mysterious device.

What is this?  And why is it plugged into the wall?

What is this? And why is it plugged into the wall?

But there is the Thames, and there are lots of good people here to hang out with.

The Thames

The Thames

Four slightly mildewed showerheads for Oakley Court. Yes, we are spoiled. Jennifer, where are you when we need you??

This tree snuck in from California

This tree snuck in from California

On the restaurant front, this area near Windsor is astoundingly good. Dinner at the three star Waterside Inn was the best complete dining experience we have ever had. Fantastic. Attention to detail and superior service without even one iota of pretension.

Also good was the local pub the Hinds Head, which doubles as a michelin star restaurant. Pea soup with mint is not much like mushy peas.

Mixology-wise, your best bet is to train in to London on the fast train. No interesting cocktails to be had within miles.

Austin, TX. You can’t help but think of live music of course…which can be found in the airport BTW. But there is old school elegance here too from the early days of the “Republic.” Well, elegance if you’re into spittoons.

Checkin is efficient, Texas-friendly, and slides in the upsell without even blinking a lash or ruffling a feather. That’s just what happens when you have a glass shower problem!

The Driskill Lobby screams cattle baron

The Driskill Lobby screams cattle baron

Where I'm Blogging From (apologies to Raymond)

Where I’m Blogging From (apologies to Raymond)

I found myself in a corner suite due to the glass shower issue. Accounting may be mad, but we’ll get it handled. 536 is the “bridal suite.” Must be the hot tub. So Texas cheerleader.

536. Corner balcony.

536. Corner balcony.

Outside looking good.

Outside looking good.

Of course it’s hot out since it’s Texas. But no so very. Only 85 today, which compared to the 105 I know from my High School days is downright cool. Sadly, the view from the balcony has changed somewhat since 1886.

Reality check on the view. About as awesome as downtown Austin gets though. This is not Buenos Aires Toto.

But we’re all about the bathroom on NPS. Marble. 1886. Plus a Texas cheerleader hot tub (cheerleader not included).

This shower no plastic has.

This shower no plastic has.

The powder room has his and her sinks (no hers and hers in TX!)

The powder room has his and her sinks (no hers and hers in TX!)

Three showerheads. Hot damn!

Three showerheads. Hot damn!

And then there is this (literally through glass).

And then there is this (literally through glass).

536 has a ceiling fan.

536 has a ceiling fan.

536 is a nice room, and rumored to be the best one. It could use an ipod player from this decade (nano no worky). But what it really needs is some outlets. Any outlets. The bedside tables have none. The TV dresser has none. There are no outlets. Better hurry up and post this before my mac dies.

When I came back from cocktail hour at the very interesting bar in the Driskill, there was a note, some sparkling water and some fruit waiting for me. Thanks!

Amenity and personal note. Nice touch Driskill.

Amenity and personal note. Nice touch Driskill.

Four very high showerheads for the Driskill (oh so close to five). Just goes to show you how spoiled we are…and addicted to our machines.

A workaday “Italian” dinner can be procured at Carmelos. Skip it. There have to be better places to eat in Austin!

Drinks at the speakeasy Midnight Cowboy were very well made. Old school with a west coast flare. We did get one experimental beverage but neglected to write down the recipe. The interior reminds me of Bourbon and Branch. In a twist, the bartender comes to your table with a trolley to make drinks.

Late night pretzel and some William Larue Weller at Easy Tiger seemed like a good idea at the time. Real bourbon.

Fleming’s Steakhouse is pretty straight down the Bell curve in steakhouse-land. Good meat. Butter heavy sides. But the wine list is pretty lame. It’s as if TX is trapped in the ’80s wine wise.

Half Step is a world class bar with very talented barkeeps. About the only complaint about our visit was that the band was great but WAY too loud. Had to yell to talk. Every old cocktail we ordered was made to perfection (sazarac, corpse reviver #2). Whitney Hobbs materfully triangulated a Paige Ellis as follows:
1.5 bourbon (whiney used dickel 8 yr, I would use something hotter)
.75 suze
.75 barolo chinato
stir down, serve up with a big ice cube (drape drink over cube), express orange peel and slip down the side.