While the City of Brussels has been butting heads with Airbnb over stricter regulations over the past year and a half, the short-term home rental service has nonetheless thrived in the Belgian capital since it started up operations in the country in 2012. Even with increased control, some magnificent accommodations remain online for the traveller keen to explore the heart of Europe. Here, we’ve selected 10 Brussels gems that stand out from the Airbnb crowd.
Spacious loft with wheelbarrow and flying bike downtown
Mismatched chairs, a flying bike and a wheelbarrow make this 180-square-metre space quirkily stick out from a whole slew of Brussels lofts. Avi’s characterful pad combines a modern, bright red kitchen with unusual vintage touches all over the apartment. Records and a vinyl player are stored in a grocery store cart; CDs still line the shelves, and desks are sturdy retro pieces. Tons of space and a cool atmosphere in the middle of Brussels’ centre has made it a coveted accommodation with both families and groups of friends.
From €110 a night
Cost-saving cuteness in Saint-Gilles
At €30 a night, Alice’s hideaway in Saint-Gilles is a steal. What this tiny studio apartment lacks in space, it more than makes up for in utter charm. Grandmotherly armchairs in floral print, tall potted plants and a stove conjure up visions of cosy tea or coffee sessions for one or two, ideally after a stroll past the neighbourhood’s grand Art Nouveau houses, hip eateries and indie galleries, or after a venture into the city centre (a 20-minute tram ride away). It’s great value for money option.
From €30 a night
A room with an Atomium view
Nothing says ‘you’re in Brussels’ like waking up with a full view of the famed nine-balled Atomium. Breakfast on the L-shaped wooden terrace of Alexandre’s stylish pad delivers just that. Business travellers or couples enjoy a bright double room with private bathroom in the Bruxellois’ former printing house-turned-loft near Brussels Expo. The centre of residential neighbourhood Laeken, with the monarchal family’s castle home and the Royal Greenhouses, is a stone’s throw away. There’s free parking in the complex, and a convenient nearby tram stop takes you downtown in 20 minutes.
From €59 a night
Homely bed & bike in the city centre
Behind a modern, unremarkable exterior, Virginie and Laurent have made a warm home that doubles as a traveller safe haven. Both short- and long-term guests get treated to the locals’ intimate knowledge of the Belgian capital, including invaluable breakfast and dinner recommendations. Complimentary slippers and free use of the couple’s bikes are part of the package as well. One floor above the private bedroom with one queen-size and one single bed, a big and genial living space with a floating stove, sink-in fauteuils and a wood-detailed kitchen set the scene for cosy evenings spent indoors. A little walled-off garden in the back with beach chairs is as tranquil a nook in the metropolis as they come.
From €69 a night
Hygge-infused attic studio in quiet part of city centre
Waking up in this wood-clad attic studio, one would be forgiven for mistaking the place and its warm hygge-like feel for a cabin somewhere up in Scandinavian mountains. One look out of the skylight, however, gives a glimpse of Brussels’ rooftops, revealing a central location in a peaceful lane that is only a five-minute walk away from the historic centre. Scrambling up to the cosy studio on the fourth flour requires a quick climb of a ladder, but owners David and Akio’s door on the ground floor is always open for luggage-hauling requests and any tips and questions.
From €55 a night
Fairytale medieval house in the Dansaert area
In a narrow cobbled alley close to the Sainte Catherine square and the lively Rue Dansaert, Pauline’s 1596 townhouse is the thing of Airbnb dreams. Snug and renovated with an extra homely sensibility and sense for comfort, small wooden steps lead to several cosy, white-walled rooms. Self-professed cat ladies and gentlemen are always delighted to have Pauline’s cat Kiki as their sweet temporary housemate. A quaint, fairytale property to call home while exploring Brussels.
From €120 a night
Sunbathed architect’s loft in Laeken
Eve takes care to stock her fridge with regional beers, but what should and will put a bigger grin on the visitor’s face is the taste displayed in the light and airy loft that welcomes them. In opting for bamboo and concrete floors, exposed brick and wall-to-wall windows in the renovation, the young architect has turned this gorgeous space in Laeken into a design lover’s paradise. Even the bathtub is a wood-wrapped original.
From €90 a night
Exquisite downtown penthouse
It’s the thoughtful details that make Inès’ cosy penthouse downtown a coveted Brussels stay. Mugs that tell you to love yourself, a stairwell with a French poem to light up your day and an upstairs bedroom that opens onto a little terrace – Inès and her husband Daniel have pulled it all together in an impeccable whole in which every item, big or small, fits perfectly. At 80 square metres large and close to the European Quarter (above the historic centre), it’s an ideal pick for a longer business stay but equally suitable for solo travellers, couples or even families (the couch doubles as a sofa bed).
From €90 a night
Artist pad near the city centre
Treasured by owner Alec as a living space as well as the atelier for his artistic endeavours, this open loft comes with leather armchairs, a mezzanine bed and a walk-in shower. The creative, relaxed atmosphere emanating from it and a stretched-out desk are conducive to a working holiday, with the possibility of 20-minute reinvigorating walk breaks to the magnificent Grand Place and back. The rare allowance of pets and the sofa bed make it suitable for a family trip all the same.
From €70 a night
Tasteful vintage apartment in Saint-Gilles
As far as locations go, this gem of an apartment in Saint-Gilles is gold. While just a short distance from the buzzing Place Stéphanie and its ample breakfast and brunch eateries and a few steps from the posh Avenue Louise and its high-end boutiques, it sits in a particularly peaceful lane. It’s also a stone’s throw from Châtelain, a neighbourhood with a penchant for vintage and interior decoration; it’s a preference that Dorothée and Pauline have happily extended to their space. Though feeling very much like a home loved by its owners, there is ample room for visitors to store their belongings, and there’s a washing machine on hand for longer stays.
From €65 a night