I went to Brussels in June 2014 to visit the war grave of my uncle who was killed in Operation Market Garden – what is commonly known as the Battle of Arnhem. He is buried at the Bergen Op Zoom cemetery in the Netherlands and I chose this hotel because it was close to the railway station I needed for the onward trip. The Midi is also the Eurostar terminus and handy for Bruges, so killed several birds with one stone.
Before booking this hotel I read other reviews, some of which said it was in downtown Brussels but I didn't realise just what that meant until I got there. It's easy to find if you come out of the right side of the station but not if you come out on the Pullman Hotel side, which is where we came from as we transferred from the Pullman to Novotel as part of our booking arrangements.
The Novotel is in a horrible area and I can understand why people might feel unsafe. I was with my (large) partner so felt more or less safe, although held on to my bag quite tightly. I wouldn't venture out on my own after dark though and more mature or timid travellers might want to steer clear. The hotel itself was very nice. the room was a good size but the bed and pillows were uncomfortable according to my taste – we never got a good night's sleep even though there was little outside noise. Breakfast was a disgrace. We went down on the first morning at 8 am (breakfast ends at 10 am) and the only hot food left was eggs and beans, no brown bread and only a few slices of old white. On the second morning, there were only beans left and on the third morning there were no beans! I managed to get more food made when I complained, but I found the whole dining experience quite stressful and unpleasant. As a result we didn't eat in the hotel in the evenings so had to go out. The choice otherwise was good but having paid £105 for B & B I felt we were entitled to rather better service. Other than that, keep your wits about you if you use the Metro as this area is a bit dodgy and there are some very suspicious characters on the trains, with homeless people begging and sleeping in the station area. Although it is well placed for rail travel, there are lots of other hotels available nearer to the centre of Brussels from which you could comfortably walk to the main sites, so if that's what you are after, I would choose one of those.
Brussels Midi station is massive and as both of us have walking difficulties we found it exhausting walking from one end to the other. Also the signage was very confusing so buying tickets, both from the automatic kiosks and from the various ticket offices, was no easy task. We decided to buy our tickets to Bergen Op Zoom and Bruges the day before we needed them to avoid any last minute panic on the day. I guess that would be our top tip!