< BELGIUM | BRUSSELS: Hôtel Métropole
In 1890, Wielemans brothers, brewers from the commune of Forest, opened the Métropole Café with the aim of promoting their beers. Due to their tremendous success, they bought the neighbouring building, the former "Caisse d'Epargne" headquarters and turned it into the Métropole Hotel. The French architect Alban Chambon, already responsible for the decoration of The Métropole Café, was appointed to carry out the interior design of the hotel. Chambon did not hesitate to call upon the best artists and craftsmen of his era who assisted him in his work. It is in this respect that the bronze Nymph on the fountain of the Roman-style restaurant that has now been converted into a café was signed by Julien Dillens.
Inside the Métropole, all architectural styles are depicted in an air of luxury and richness of materials: panelling, polished teak, marble of Numibia, gilded bronze and forged
iron, all competed to give the impression of comfort in the 1900 era. Upon its opening in 1895, new, luxurious hotel was also equipped with the most up-to-date facilities: lifts,
electricity, central heating...
The Métropole Hotel hosts numerous events international and national social events. In 1911, the first Solvay Physics Board was held which brought together personalities such as Einstein, Marie Curie, Poincaré. Stars, Crowned Heads of State and politicians all resided at the Métropole, balls and banquets were frequent and popular. After the First World War, which saw the hotel requisitioned, the owners undertook extension works by buying a neighbouring building in 1925, in order to create new rooms. The extension works of the Métropole cinema completed in 1932 were also important. The building of the 3000-seater theatre required the demolition of several buildings on the rue Neuve. The project included the creation of shops, a brewery, a disco "La Frégate", banquet halls and two floors of supplementary rooms with a patio above the cinema.
The construction of this was carried out by Adrien Blomme who designed an authentic architectural masterpiece combining technical process with a refined aesthetic. The façade of yellow Travertin opened out on the rue Neuve with large glazed bays. The restrained interior decoration, with mirrors, polished metals and precious wood is enhanced by carefully purpose-built lightings. The inauguration in the presence of Queen Astrid and Raimu was a great social event.
The Second World War saw the Métropole Hotel requisitioned by Germans during the occupation, then for a year by the allies, but in the aftermath of war the hotel enjoyed another golden era. Stars visiting Brussels, among them Sacha Guitry, all stayed at the hotel. Toots Thielemans made his debut in the jazz orchestra that played in the café. Since the completion of the works in 1976, the hotel made a new start, which will take it well beyond its centenary which was celebrated in 1995.
In 1985, "Le Bar 19ème" and the restaurant "L'Alban Chambon" were opened. The restaurant was completely renovated during the summer of 2002 giving it a Baroque Italian décor.
Métropole guest book include names of: King of Belgium Léopold III, Queen of Belgium Fabiola, King of Belgium Albert, King of Italy Umberto, Prince of The Nederland Bernhard, Shah of Iran, Prince Napoléon, President Eisenhower, President Hoover, President Johnson, General de Gaulle, Albert Einstein, Marie Curie, Georges Clémenceau, Jean Cocteau, Sarah Bernhardt, Isadora Duncan, Rudolf Noureev, Giacomo Puccini, Arthur Rubinstein, Enrico Caruso, Richard Strauss, Placido Domingo, Yves Montand, Paco Rabanne, Alain Delon, Stéphane Audran, Peter Fonda, Jean Paul Belmondo, Gina Lollobrigida, Claudia Cardinale, David Lynch, John Malkovich, Luc Besson, Peter O’Toole, Anthony Perkins, Roberto Benigni, Audrey Tautou, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Simple Minds, Kate Bush, Suzanne Vega and many, many more.
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