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September 4, 2007updated Aug 04, 2021

Elite Recommends – Ultimate VIP Experiences in Brussels

By Chris Boyle


Elite Traveler has selected the most exclusive VIP experiences



During Belgium’s recent culinary boom, which has seen the nation attract more awards than ever before, there has been one restaurant that has stood out from the rest: Hof Van Cleve.

Chef Peter Goossens is firmly in the critics’ spotlight having collected three Michelin stars, placing the restaurant fifteenth in San Pellegrino’s World’s 50 Best Restaurants and earning a place at Les Grandes Tables du Monde.

Journeying the 30 minutes it takes to drive from the center of Brussels will allow you to mentally prepare for this culinary whirlwind – do you go for the eight course seasonal menu or the five course à la carte menu. Both have a play on key ingredients, the former menu reads like a shopping list: sardine, hiramasa, langoustine, brill, venison, arabica and apricot, but every one of these dishes maximizes the key ingredient almost beyond recognition. À la carte classics include ‘open ravioli with braised cheeks of beef, served with Parisian mushrooms and langoustine’, ‘king crab with Belgian sevruga caviar’ and ‘crispy veal sweetbreads with penne au gratin, melted foie gras and spinach’. The restaurant itself, situated in the beautiful Flanders countryside, is unassuming, plain and simple – the ideal neutral canvas for Goossens’s bold enthusiastic dishes and some of the finest gastronomy you will ever experience.


River Cloulou d II

Brussels, though an impressive European capital, is but a taste of Belgium’s medieval flavor, where canals wind through ancient trading centers and connect with Europe’s famous rivers.

Immerse yourself in the scenery of yesteryear in the most authentic way possible – traveling by barge. Tour operator Abercrombie and Kent offer seven day itineraries that, although avoiding Brussels itself, tour the historical heart of Belgium and the Low Countries through its ancient network of canals and rivers. The barge that they offer, however, is a far cry from the trading vessels operating here centuries ago. Less a barge than a 338 foot floating five-star hotel, River Cloud II accommodates guests in perfect luxury during its seven-day itineraries. Thirteen queen and 20 double en-suite staterooms range between 118 to 1154 square feet and are all en-suite and furnished to impeccable standards. Meals are taken seriously onboard with menus created daily according to ingredients picked up from local markets that morning and regional wines are selected to match. Alfresco lunches on the sundeck allow you to watch the world slip by and dinners in the Promenade Deck’s restaurant carry an old world sophistication and charm about them. The evenings are often dedicated to guest lecturers, cooking lessons or simply wandering through the medieval towns and cities en route.

However, these itineraries are less about the boat than the destination. In 2012 River Cloud II takes on various itineraries. Following in the footsteps, or wake, of travel writer Patrick Leigh Fermor along the Rhine and the Low Countries, the barge makes its way from the astonishing Cologne Cathedral to the Hook of Holland. Then on to Belgium’s great medieval trading centers of Ghent and Bruges, both with so many canals they feel like undiscovered Venices. Tour Belgium’s second city and the world’s diamond capital, Antwerp, before entering the Netherlands to find yourself cruising through myriad canals intersected with fields of wild flowers.

Hilary Hamilton, Abercrombie and Kent

+1 800 554 7094

[See also: Top suites in the world – Tower Suite, Zannier Hotels, Ghent]


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