Finding a good hotel in Brussels is easy. Finding a hotel in Brussels with a social and environmental conscience wasn’t always so easy. At least until last April 2012, when the Green Key certified Thon Hotel EU opened its doors.
I had the opportunity to stay at the Thon Hotel EU in September, thanks to Wallonia-Brussels Tourism. It was an odd experience, spending a night in a hotel only three blocks from home, but I’m glad I did.
First and foremost, the Thon EU is a beautiful, modern hotel. The public areas are dramatic and colourful, and the whole building feels bright and airy.
My room was spacious and comfortable. The bed was comfy, and the shower was excellent. Everything was exactly where I wanted it to be: bright reading lights attached to the bed, complimentary water in the mini-fridge, and a power outlet in easy reach of my nightstand so I could plug in my phone. Perfect!
Then there was the breakfast – It was vast. Oh how I wish I could have done it justice, but the night before I had a huge meal at La Buvette. I wasn’t planning on eating breakfast at all, but I couldn’t resist when I saw some of my favourite things on offer.
The Thon EU also has a perfect location on Rue Loi. It’s just down the street from the European Commission, so it’s a favourite of the Eurocrat set. But, steps from the Arts-Loi metro, it’s also perfectly positioned for tourists. Also good for tourists – room rates are significantly lower on weekends (see the end of the post for details).
There are 405 rooms, meeting rooms, a gym, underground parking, a lovely bar and restaurant with a terrace, and even some shops on the ground floor. While all of these things are good, they aren’t revolutionary.
That’s where the Green Key certification comes in.
Green Key is an international label that sets standards for eco-friendly hotels (as well as B&Bs, guesthouses, hostels, event venues and attractions). Green Key sets high standards for not only ecological projects but also social ones. Some of the criteria include waste, water, and energy management; green open spaces; food; environmental education; and mobility. Moreover, it encourages innovation, and that’s exactly what I saw at the Thon EU.
We’ve all seen those notices in hotels about recycling your towels. But let’s face it – most hotels aren’t recycling towels to be ‘green.’ They are doing it as a cost saving measure. The Thon EU takes that one step further.
Guests are given a card to place on their door. If you choose not to have your room serviced (saving water and chemicals), you’re given a €5 voucher. This can be used anywhere in the hotel: the bar, the restaurant, the shops. OR you can choose to donate your voucher to Thon’s charity of choice – Good Planet, which teaches young people about environmental responsibility and sustainability issues. The hotel donates thousands of Euro each month from this property alone. (Thon also operates six other properties in Brussels, including the city’s first 5-star hotel, the Stanhope.)
The Thon EU is also helping Brussels’ bee population, by keeping two beehives on their roof garden. One of their eco-initiatives was to hand out packets of bee-friendly wildflower seeds to guests. The honey produced by the 150.000 bees in used in some of the restaurant dishes.
The Thon EU even has its very own organic beer, Thonner’ke.
Other green initiatives include:
- free Villo-bike rental passes for guests
- free parking and charging for electric cars in the parking garage (even if you aren’t staying at the hotel)
- Blood drives in co-operation with the Red Cross
- Reusable glass bottles of filtered tap water (still and sparkling) in all conference rooms
- Distribution of 5-minute timers, on World Water Day, to encourage people to take shorter showers.
- Solar panels on the roof and low energy light bulbs throughout.
- Rainwater harvesting system to water the roof garden and interior plants
- Recycling bins in rooms
- Eco-friendly cleaning products
- Donation of leftover toiletries to charity
- And much, much more.
My favourite initiative is taking place in November – a recycled book drive. Guests and locals alike can drop off unwanted books at the Thon EU reception between November 16th – 22nd. They’ll receive a voucher for a Thonner’ke beer. You can then return on the 22nd between 12-5pm and choose up to 3 books from the selection.
Last year the book drive was a huge success with 150 books in 11 different languages, and more than half found new homes. Those books left over were donated to the charity, Les Petits Riens/spullenhulp.
The Thon Hotel EU ticks all of my boxes for a great hotel stay: comfort, location, design, service and above all environmental and social responsibility.
Thon Hotel EU
75 Rue de la Loi (Wetstraat)
Looking for more hotel options in Brussels? We get asked where to stay in Brussels – All. The. Time. We finally did something about it and wrote the Ultimate Guide to our top 30 hotels in Brussels. Read it here.
Disclaimer: My one night stay at the Thon Hotel EU was sponsored by Wallonia-Brussels Tourism; however, all opinions are, as always, my own.
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