“I fantasize about being alone. There are times when, on my worst day, I’ve thought about just leaving our house and going someplace quiet, like checking into a hotel. Checking into a room all by myself, in a quiet, air conditioned room, sitting down, eating my lunch, with no one touching me-drinking a diet Sprite, by myself. Every day I get up, make breakfast, go to work, come home clean the house, pick up the kids, take them to soccer, pick them up from soccer, cook dinner, clean up, give the kids a bath and get them into their pajamas which is a fight every night—it’s a BIG SURPRISE to everyone every night that they have to wear pajamas!—and then after I have washed everybody else’s food and boogers off of me, I use whatever energy I have left to physically put myself into bed…”.
Like chiming church bells, those words along with my sister's rang loudly through my brain. Putting guilt aside, I mustered up the courage to ask my husband to gift me one night alone in a hotel room. We’ve been married 17 years. Gasp! As soon as I asked , I could feel the bitterness of guilt gurgling inside me. What was I thinking? It was too late; the words had already left my reluctant mouth. To my surprise, my husband was not only understanding, but supportive. It turns out I’m not exactly a silent sufferer, he knew it had been a long summer entertaining our four energized girls. Without questioning why I needed a break, he said two words, “Book it”.
I knew exactly where I wanted to spend my gifted night alone, Brussels. It’s an easy 35 minute train ride from where we live. The goal was to find a hotel that whispered urban sanctuary and was easy walking distance to the Grand Place and Central Train Station. I wanted the security of being within a short stroll to museums and sites. Finding a place that catered to my vision wasn’t an easy task. Brussels is geared, rightfully so, to the business traveler. Most of the hotels I found seemed to scream corporate, not soothing. Upon lots of Goggling, I found my 24 hour retreat. Without a second thought, I booked it!
Hotel Le Dixseptième. This lovely boutique property consists of 24 rooms and suites. At one time it was the Spanish ambassador’s residence. It sits quietly on a tree lined street outside the Central Train Station. The neighborhood is home to numerous art galleries and antique shops. Perfect! Upon entering the hotel I was greeted with a warm smile by the hotel’s receptionist, Josephine. Josephine was courteous, professional, and accommodating. She was a great first impression. With my room key in hand, I headed up the beautiful 17th century oak staircase. Opening the door was a breath of fresh air. The colors were cool, calm, and serene. Shades of grey, cream, white, with subtle splashes of lavender were easy on my tired eyes. My nest for the night was refreshing and quiet. I was beginning to feel a sense of relaxation. If it weren’t that I had called a head for a dinner reservation, I could easily see myself slipping into the plush white robe and black L.D. monogramed slippers waiting beside the bed, but I had a table for one waiting.
The restaurant I chose, La Roue D’Or (The Wheel of Gold). It sits off an artery road from the Grand Place. Entering is a feast for the eyes. The ceilings are painted sea foam green with drifting puffy white clouds. The chandeliers add a touch of grandeur and offer a nice contrast to the dark wood. If you’re a fan of the surrealist painter Magritte, you will be in heaven. The entire restaurant is filled with touches of whimsy. Behind the bar you’ll find paintings of numerous men in bowler hats with striking blue eyes peering over a ledge. They seem playful and taunting. The visual feast continued as my meal arrived. The fish soup I ordered was accompanied with homemade butter toasted croutons made from French bread. The broth was think, rich, and filled with clams and tender white fish. Crumbling the buttery croutons into the soup was comfort in a bowl, whimsically delicious! With a smile on my face and a full belly, I strolled back to my quiet oasis. I nestled in with a great book, before falling asleep.
The next morning I splurged on room service. It was well worth a few extra euros to have coffee and fresh bread delivered to the room. Breakfast was included in the room rate, but that would mean I needed to get dressed and head down to the dining room. I really wanted the luxury of having time to enjoy my robe and slippers before having to leave them behind. As I sat reading my newspaper, enjoying my hot cup of coffee with frothy steamed milk, all I could think was how wonderful it all felt. There was no more guilt, just simple pleasure.