Monday, March 16, 2009

Where a Lambic-Lover Might Stay in Brussels.

Completely swamped. Finishing old projects and starting new ones. I should be pleased, but I'm too busy to enjoy the thought.

Meanwhile, something I've been meaning to tell you about: the Hôtel Galia. For this place I bend the vague policy of not giving the book away. This has the potential to be the overnight stop for beery travelers in Brussels. Or it could become just another hotel. We need to help it decide. Let's call it a project.

The hotel is on a corner of Place de Jeu de Balle in the heart of the traditionally working-class Marolles neighborhood. Lots of character here, lots of antiques, lots of comic book murals painted on building walls, lots of history. On the square there's an eccentric junk market every morning, a true brocante that is a Brussels institution, where you can peruse or haggle or just observe from a nearby café while sipping your gueuze. It's a 15-minute walk from the hotel to Mannekin Pis, Grand Place and the rest of the tourist center, so the location is solid. Rooms are basic and clean, and the rates range from €75-85 nightly for a double. Reasonable.

But the real selling point for the Galia – for beer travelers – is its own café. A murderer's row of serious lambics is on display: Cantillon, Drie Fonteinen, Girardin and more. Briefly this café was open to the general public – not just hotel guests – but too briefly for geeks to discover it and spread the word.

The problem: the café no longer caters to the general public, officially. At the moment it's mainly for hotel guests fueling up with complimentary breakfast. The lambics are still on display, but who's going to ask about them? Besides me. In fact I do keep asking, and most of them are still in the fridge. But they're endangered. What's needed here is a polite and friendly kick in the ass.

Our hope is that lambic lovers will take notice of this place, come stay here, and encourage them to keep serving the beers. It's a nice place, after all. If the lambics here dry up, nearby café classics include the Brocante, Warm Water and Restobieres – and that's just on one street. But better if these lambics don't dry up in the first place. And better still if the café re-opens to the general public, serving gueuze on the terrace perch well into the day, long after hotel guests have filled up on free cornflakes.

The address is Place de Jeu de Balle 15-16, telephone +32 (0)2 502 42 43, and you can request reservations at (French only, but you can sort it out). Even if you don't stay here, it's worth a look. They might even serve you a glass of beer, since the other guests don't seem interested.


  1. Joe, as fate would have it I have been asked to go to Brussels tomorrow at short notice. I wish I had your book now! I've asked the office to book me into somewhere near the central station, so I'm sure I'll find some fine spots to drink. Between this blog and TheBeerNut's personal advice, I can't go wrong :)

  2. Hey Joe, I came across your blog while searching for info on Belgium antique sources. I will be in Brussels in December 09 and February 2010. I appreciate the Beer info and will seek out places you have mentioned. Beer drinking is right up there with antiques hunting in my book! Check out my website at