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Understated but cosmopolitan, Brussels doesn’t skimp on creature comforts. Whether you’re sampling local craft beers or grazing on a late-night cone of piping-hot frites, this laid-back city has plenty to offer those after life’s simple pleasures. Even on a weekend break, there’s always time for one more indulgence. Arrive in the evening and you’re still in for a treat: cocktails at a neighbourhood café, perhaps, or a spot of late-night chocolate shopping. If you’re heading home early, make the most of your last few hours: browse the flea market for vintage finds, or breakfast in the sunshine. We’ve found eight things to do in easy reach of four hotels, so you can enjoy Brussels that little bit longer.

Stay at Hotel NH Stéphanie, Avenue Louise

  • First thing: find a bargain on place du Jeu de Balle

    Place du Jeu de Balle, 1000

    The city’s flea market is open every day from 7am – though canny collectors turn up earlier, as the dealers unpack their wares. Antiques and bric-a-brac are arranged on trestle tables or blankets spread on the cobbles, from china cats to tasselled lamps, gilded clocks to Tintin posters. Bargains in the bag, head for breakfast; you can’t go wrong with L’Aubette’s smoked salmon and soft-boiled eggs.

  • Last thing: a nightcap at Café Tulipant

    Place Fernand Cocq 25, 1050

    Amid the cafés clustered on place Ferdinand Cocq, this sociable newcomer’s a standout. Inside, it’s a mellow mix of old and new, with its geometric bar, green-and-white tiles and exposed-brick walls. Sip on a smoky mezcal sour, or ponder the list of eaux de vie, which runs from small-batch local gins to heady Venezuelan rum. It’s open until midnight – or beyond – every day bar Sunday.

Stay at Aris Hotel, Grand-Place

  • First thing: beat the crowds to the Grand-Place

    Grand-Place, 1000

    The Grand-Place is even lovelier without its throng of admirers – so slip out before breakfast, ahead of the camera-toting crowds. Cobbled, medieval rue des Harengs opens on to the UNESCO-listed square, flanked by gabled guild houses and grand Baroque façades. Gawp to your heart’s content, then follow the heady scent of waffles for a breakfast fit for royals at Maison Dandoy.

  • Last thing: a chocolate stop at Corné Port-Royal

    Rue au Beurre 46, 1000

    This dignified chocolatier always keeps it classic, from its ribbon-tied boxes to the apron-clad assistants. It’s best-known for pralines, like the signature Manon Sucre, made with fresh cream, nougatine and walnuts. The Rue au Beurre outpost stays open until 10pm, Monday to Saturday, in case of late-night cravings: stock up on silky ganache hearts, or caramel nib-laced bars.

Stay at Sofitel Brussels Europe Hotel, The European Quarter

  • First thing: a jog around Parc du Cinquantenaire

    Parc du Cinquantenaire, 1000
    Join the regular runners at this handsome, 30-hectare park, which dates back to 1880. After a loop of the perimeter (a mile and a half), take a detour down its tree-lined avenues. There’s plenty to see along the way, including the triumphal arch, flanked by curving colonnades and topped with a bronze chariot. Look out, too, for the city’s oldest mosque, in the north-west corner.
  • Last thing: frites at Maison Antoine

    Place Jourdan 1, 1040

    Every self-respecting local has a favourite fritkot – and it’s generally Maison Antoine. In situ on Place Jourdan since 1948, it’s still run by the same family, whose fluffy-centred frites are twice-fried in beef fat. Piled-high cones come slathered in your condiment of choice, from fiery samurai (a Belgian staple) to pimento-spiked sauce andalouse. It’s open until 1am, and 2am on Fridays and Saturdays.

Stay at Hotel Manos Premier, Saint-Gilles

  • First thing: coffee at Belga & Co

    Rue du Bailli 7A, 1000
    Arrive early to score a seat at this thoroughly charming café, or a coveted table in the small, sunny walled garden. Roasted at Belga’s Antwerp HQ, the coffee here’s second to none, whether you’re ordering a simple cortado or expertly made Chemex brew. A simple breakfast menu’s executed with equal panache, from buttery croissants with homemade jam to virtuous overnight oats.
  • Last thing: antipasti and nibbles at Cipiace

    Parvis Saint-Gilles 49A, 1060

    Set on Saint-Gilles’ main square, this buzzy Italian restaurant keeps late hours – until 2am at the weekend. Take your pick of the upscale antipasti, from grilled octopus with guanciale (salt-cured pork) to a sublime beef tartare. Meanwhile, a persuasive cocktail list riffs on unusual ingredients; try the aromatic, whisky-fuelled Orientucky, with homemade oolong syrup.

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