When I first learned of MEININGER Hotels, I honestly couldn’t understand the concept. As a hybrid (a mix of private hotel rooms and hostel dorm rooms), they market themselves as a budget hotel but also aim to cater for the backpacking community with hostel like dormitories and great common spaces.
After quizzing various staff members at various conferences about how the budget hotel and hostel combination could ever work to provide a great atmosphere for backpackers, I jumped at the chance to spend a couple of nights in the MEININGER Hotel Brussels on my way back to London from Rotterdam.
Edit: I have also since reviewed MEININGER Hotel Berlin Central Station – read the review here.
After expecting accommodation more in line with the budget hotel, I was really pleasantly surprised with the great backpacker atmosphere in the MEININGER Hotel Brussels. With funky graffiti walls in the common areas, a large bar area with a pool table and bookshelves, and a great guest kitchen area upstairs with plenty of space to eat and lounge in, guests are given more than enough opportunity to mingle and make new friends.
And the best part of it all is that the new friends you’ll meet are likely to be from a far wider range of communities and ages than you would get in smaller backpacker hostels aimed at the young travelling community. MEININGER also attracts a wealth of holidaymakers and family guests, due to their private rooms, central location, and great prices, and whilst it may seem a little odd to see little kids running around and grandparents chilling on a couple of bar stools, I thought it helped to create a really cosy family atmosphere.
If you’re not interested in the family atmosphere and you’re keen to see the nightlife, MEININGER also work with Sandemans, a great tour and pub crawl company I was first introduced to in Paris. Not only do they offer free walking tours every day, meeting at 10.30am in the reception of the hostel, but also great pub tours of the city. I obviously thought it was great as myself and two roommates went both nights during our stay!
With branded MEININGER shirts, it is easy to find a staff member when you have questions, especially as there were more than enough of them. With at least two behind the reception desk every time I passed by, they were really helpful when I had any questions about the hostel, extremely patient with the big groups and older guests, and most of all they had a natural ease at making guests feel welcome.
The only time my roommates and I got a little annoyed was when trying to grab a beer at the bar. Whilst there were plenty of staff at reception, the waiting time for staff to even show up behind the bar in the evening was a little long. I’m not sure if the hostel has dedicated bar staff, and whilst I appreciate the hostel is busy with 150 rooms, I would expect there to be better service on the weekend nights that I was there.
With thick cosy duvets that made it extremely difficult to get out of bed in the morning, more than enough lockers for everyone, a wide open space in the centre, and a sparkling clean shower & sink area, I can’t fault the design of the hostel dorms in the hostel at all. The beds each had their own spotlight and plug, as well as lockers underneath the bunks if you have your own padlock. There was even a table and chairs under the main light which came in very useful when I had to get some work done.
I read a few reviews about the wifi not being up to scratch, but on the second floor I didn’t have any problems with it and neither did my roommates so it looks like MEININGER have fixed up the connection. If you do have problems, there are computers downstairs in reception and also in the bar, and the staff at reception are more than happy to print anything for you if you need it.
For it’s 3-star standard and good location, the price of beds in this capital city hostel is fantastic. Whilst the price varies greatly from night to night, and also increases dramatically around New Year (of course) a bed in a 6-bed dorm costs on average around £20 a night. As usual, my tip for getting the best prices is always to book directly with the hostel.
As I mentioned before, wifi is a free service throughout the hostel, and whilst breakfast is a little steep at just under €8, there is also a guest kitchen and plenty of nearby shops to prepare breakfast yourself.
A little tip is that MEININGER Hotel Brussels can also provide pack lunches for your day out – how cool is that? At €4.50 for water, a sandwich, a piece of fruit and a snack, it’s almost definitely going to be cheaper than eating out for lunch.
I’ve already mentioned my appreciation for the great location of this hostel, and that’s because the closest metro station (Comte de Flandre) is just a 6 minute walk, as are the two closest tram stops. So if you get in to the city via one of the main Brussels train stations you can easily find your way with the metro map.
As for getting in and out of town, the walk from the hostel to the central Grand Place is just a 15 minute straight walk once you’ve crossed the canal, so you’d be hard pressed to get lost!
Overall, MEININGER Hotel Brussels provides an incredibly comfortable bed and dorm room if you’re looking for a great place to crash after exploring the beautiful city of Brussels. The staff are welcoming and the environment is clean… so it is a huge bargain for travellers!
I would like to thank MEININGER Hotels for arranging my stay with them, but as always my opinions are honest and my own.
Lots of love,
MEININGER Hotels is a member of STAY WYSE, the only not-for-profit industry association to represent the entire global youth travel accommodation sector, one of the travel industry’s fastest growing niche markets.