In a busy Belgian street, the impressive Hotel hides behind a modest façade. Behind the large exterior hides a classic European lost place, once a thermal resort of very wealthy residents of Belgium.
This resort was built in the second half of the 19th century, on a thermal spring that has been used by the locals since at least the 1300s.
The impressive two-storey building was built in the French Neo-Renaissance style by the architect Léon Sus. The building itself is divided into 4 wings and a courtyard, and in its heyday served as a spa hotel.
On the ground floor there were sitting, dousing and mud baths. Initially, there were 52 cabins with 54 baths, large rooms with high pressure showers, hydrotherapy showers with a conventional immersion pool, rooms with circular showers and foot baths with running water, and small diving rooms. Subsequently, many changes were made to modernize the building.
The hotel was opened on August 15, 1868. It’s value was estimated in 1,500,000 Belgian francs, a huge amount of money for that time. The baths were suitable for 167 182 thermal treatments per year (in 1967!).
Since the resort opened, thousands of wealthy Belgians have bathed and were treated there every year. The interior of the hotel was inspired by French Neo-Renaissance and Italian architecture, with breathtaking painted ceilings and embellished marble columns.
From the outside, the building was very modest, and we were really shocked when we made our way inside and saw a chic lobby.
The reception area had a neo-baroque ceiling that extended over two floors and opened onto a mezzanine balcony. Tall columns supported this balcony and the entire second floor. Accents and motifs with roses and other floral-themed decorations were applied to the carved marble. Busts with tridents razed casually above the doors leading to the treatment rooms. The vaulted ceiling was coffered, each segment was decorated with an identical painting of a golden vase filled with flowers. It seems that these were paintings on canvas inserted into the ceiling. In the center there was a painting depicting a man with a trident and a woman sitting on rocks or a large seashell. Cherubs were sitting next to her, flying, holding a long pink scarf. It looked like it was painted right on the plaster of the ceiling.
Several times we couldn’t get into the building, it took us about two years to finally get inside. Most of the equipment and fixtures have already been removed, with very little evidence of past use.
After 135 years of operation, these baths were closed in 2003. They have been replaced by a more modern spa, a little further up the hill.
The interior decoration, courtyard, façade, as well as footboards and vestibule are UNESCO-listed, the building is classified as a spa, and also occupies an honorable place in the ranking of properties included in the list of exceptional Walloon heritage.
We are two, open and adventurous. We visit the most spectacular abandoned, decayed, derelict, lost and forgotten places around the world. We capture what is hidden behind the seals and rusty locks, touch the past, open the curtain of dust trying to turn back time and to create memories.