BACKGROUND: The only five-star hotel in the Belgian city of Liège, the Crowne Plaza is mounted on a hill, overlooking the city. The property opened last year, and is the only IHG hotel in the city. WHAT’S IT LIKE? The property has the feel of a château, as it was formed by combining two adjacent historical mansions – one boasts a distinctive, stone 16th-century turret and houses nine suites, while the Comtes de Méan section, joined to a modern wing and with a neoclassical façade, holds 117 guestrooms. The grand flourishes throughout the property – such as dark wooden doors beneath stone arches – are softened by bright, modern furnishings including magenta pillows and modern artworks. Sitting and sipping a beer in the hotel’s lobby bar, you feel impressed by your surroundings, but comfortable. The service is friendly and efficient.
WHERE IS IT? A downhill drive past Liège’s Palais de Justice will take you to the city centre in a couple of minutes.ROOM FACILITIES I stayed in one of the suites in the Sélys Longchamps section of the hotel. It was a very spacious room – the lounge, bedroom and bathroom were separated by archways and heavy carved wooden doors with oil paintings in the panels at the top. The décor combined minimalist cement wash walls in the lounge with cream tissue wallpaper in the bedroom (as a listed building, conventional wallpaper was a no-no during the renovation) and luxurious furnishings, such as plush purple curtains, a polka dot purple armchair and a red velvet sofa in the lounge. Before the sofa was a coffee table, a Nespresso machine and a flatscreen TV without English channels, though there was the option to pay for films. The bedroom had a generously-sized antique-style bed with a studded headboard and a silk purple throw – opposite was a large desk, where two large free bottles of water were left for me. There was a cupboard where the kettle, hairdryer, robe and slippers and minibar could be found. The narrow bathroom ran the width of the room; the walls were adorned with matte navy mosaic tiles, there was a walk in shower with a rainshower head (no bath) and free Osmose toiletries. Overall, the suite combined lavish, romantic features, such as fresh flowers and rich fabrics, with practical features such as a plug socket by the bed and free wifi. RESTAURANTS AND BARS The dual nature of the hotel and its extensive history present interesting opportunities for its food and beverage offering. For elegance and gourmet dining there’s Le Sélys restaurant, located in the part of the hotel that was formerly the Sélys Longchamps. The restaurant’s pale blue-green walls are delicately adorned with Chinese 18th-century frescoes, the space opens out onto a graveled outdoor terrace. Alternatively, in the other part of the building, there is the modern O Cocottes brasserie, where breakfast is served from 7am-10.30am. This is a chilled out, trendy space with large windows that frame rooftop views of Liège as you dine. I enjoyed the buffet breakfast, which offered coffee, juices, fresh fruit, meats, cheeses, bread, cereals and freshly made crêpes with maple syrup. Belgian cuisine is served for lunch (12pm-2.30pm) and dinner (7pm-9.30pm) and there’s an outdoor terrace for 90 people. La Cave is the hotel’s underground bar, a former arms room with an original vaulted brick ceiling and columns – strategic bright lighting gives the space a more modern feel. It hosts up to 100 people for drinks and has a separate, comfortable-looking smoking room. The venue can be hired exclusively and at weekends there is live music from local DJs and bands – it’s open until 1am, Monday to Saturday. The hotel’s lobby-bar combines dark floors and furniture with velvet upholstery in feminine shades of purple and pink. It’s a sophisticated space, with a library feel. Guests staying in a club room, junior suite or a suite in the Sélys Longchamps part of the hotel have access to the hotel’s club lounge, where they can enjoy a breakfast, free hot and cold drinks and free wifi access. BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES The Crowne Plaza has eight meeting rooms, the largest of which can host 100 delegates theatre-style. All rooms offer free wifi, natural daylight and air conditioning. The seminar rooms are smart with neutral décor, while the The Napolean III-style ballroom gives a more decadent option for hosting an event. The room has green walls, gold paneling and large arched windows and mirrors – it can hold 200 people for a banquet. LEISURE FACILITIES The hotel’s Osmose spa is huge – it has 11 treatment rooms – and uses Cinq Mondes, Carita and Russie Blanche products. There’s a lovely relaxation area with azure blue walls lined with ceramic fish. The fitness centre has Life Fitness gym equipment and a 12-metre swimming pool. Spinning and yoga classes are available. Both the spa and the fitness centre are open 7am-10pm on weekdays (10am-8pm on weekends). VERDICT An impressive hotel with character, that is also well-equipped for events and business travellers. FACT FILE HOW MANY ROOMS? 126: nine suites, six junior suites, 32 Club rooms and Classic rooms. ROOM HIGHLIGHTS The sense of luxury and the authentic décor. PRICE Internet rates for a flexible midweek stay in March start from €137 for a classic room. CONTACT crowneplazaliege.be Rose Dykins