Rather than get away for the long weekend, we chose to enjoy a staycation right here in Brussels and took the opportunity to stay in the recently renovated Zoom Hotel, a boutique hotel located in the heart of Ixelles, described as a “participatory photography hotel”. With Merv’s keen interest in photography, we were immediately intrigued by the concept and couldn’t wait to see what Zoom Hotel had to offer.
After a quick tram ride from Sainte Catherine, we spotted the hotel signage jutting out from an inconspicuous white building in a residential side street. The simple facade only added to the impact of the entrance – all-black walls accentuated by bright lighting and an abundance of colorful photography-related decor everywhere we looked. The urban styling was continued in the rooms, which were decorated in a cozy yet contemporary industrial style. Further emphasising the interactive photography concept, each of the hotel’s 37 rooms features unique photos of Brussels taken by a local artist.
Quite typical of Brussels, rainy weather descended upon our staycation, but this gave us even more reason to while away a few enjoyable hours at the hotel’s Beer House, where we were able to sample some of the 50 Belgian beers available for tasting. The photography theme was evident here too, with camera brand signage, technical camera diagrams and impressive photographs adorning the walls. The versatile space is also used as the dining room where a copious continental breakfast is served each morning. We enjoyed our fill of waffles and eggs as Motown classics played overhead – a great start to the morning, and a high note on which to end an excellent stay.
When Bec told me she had booked us in to a photography-themed hotel here in Brussels for the weekend, I packed all my camera gear in the hopes of taking lots of photos. I wasn’t disappointed. The first thing to greet us at the entrance was a huge mosaic made up of thousands of tiny photographs, flanked by cabinets filled with vintage polaroid cameras that were available for purchase along with ‘Impossible’ brand instant film. I was in heaven!
The reception area was well-accessorised, with an old police bike by the desk, a fish tank on the counter, a giant film container used as an umbrella stand, a New York cityscape on one of the walls, and a large stand of black and white postcards – complete visual overload. We checked in and made our way down a hallway that lead to the hotel’s bar and dining room. Every wall was covered in photographs or something related to photography. One wall even had a large collection of vintage cameras and lenses on display, and the entire bar area had just the right amount of mood lighting to create a sense of atmosphere.
With its black walls and dim lighting, walking up the stairway to our room was like being in a photographic darkroom. The room itself was quite big, and an enlarged print of a picture taken by local photographer Bruno Goffin doubled as a headboard. Some old photography magazines were a nice touch. Looking though the pages I saw an advertisement for a camera I once used while I was a photography student. This place obviously understands photographers. It was no surprise to discover that the hotel manager, who is also behind the concept and interior design, is a photographer himself. The attention to detail at Zoom is outstanding, and the hotel pulls off the photographic theme brilliantly.
Rue de la Concorde 59-61, 1000 Brussels