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Bid on original furnishings from Palace hotel during online auction

13:53 16/06/2021

Even if you do not feel you are currently in the market for a €2,000 antique wardrobe, it might be worth checking out the Crowne Plaza-Le Palace Hotel’s online auction. A fantastic old black telephone with cradle and rotary dial, for instance, could cost you as little as €125.

Le Palace was the first hotel in Brussels to include a telephone in every room. Built between 1908 and 1909 on Place Rogier in anticipation of the 1910 world’s fair in Brussels, it was designed by Adhémar Lener and Antoine Pompe in geometric Art Nouveau style.

The hotel is beloved to locals partially because of the rags-to-riches story of the owner, Georges Marquet. He was the one who put out the call for an architectural competition. Born in France to a skipper and barwoman, he reportedly fled to Belgium after being accused of stealing at his job at a metal factory. He eventually wound up in hotels and casinos, becoming financially self-sufficient and buying up hotels around Europe.

The Palace had such unseen amenities as two electric lifts and a rooftop terrace. The interior was designed by Alban Chambon, also responsible for the interior at Hotel Metropole.

Palace Hotel in Brussels
Le Palace Hotel (far right), back in the day

The hotel was occupied by the Germans in both world wars, serving in the first as a hospital for wounded soldiers and in the second for soldiers on furlough. In the post-war years, it was home to many a well-known traveller, including Grace Kelly, Orson Welles, Brigitte Bardot and Prince Philip, the late husband of Queen Elizabeth II.

Belgian author Georges Simenon, creator of the famous detective Jules Maigret, was a huge fan of the hotel, using it as a setting in his books. He once wrote an article on Europe’s great palaces, in which he included the hotel with this statement: “A palace is, per definition, a spot where everything falls into place. A spot that makes us believe that life is one big splendid party.”

Black Bakelite phone being auctioned off
Wouldn’t an original black Bakelite telephone look great on your antique writing desk?

The Palace, now known as Crowne Plaza-Le Palace, is currently owned by Swedish hotel operators Pandox, which is carrying out renovations to the building. It is offering 95 choice pieces of furniture and art via an online auction that recall the historical hotel’s early days.

Some pieces being auctioned have been in storage for many years. The telephones are among the smaller, less expensive items. Other pieces include Roman marble statues, leather and plush armchairs with gold-coloured feet, turn-of-the-last-century wardrobes, writing desks and painted portraits of Georges Marquet and his family.

Pandox also owns the Hotel Indigo – formerly the Hilton – next door. It also underwent a complete renovation a couple of years ago.

Anyone interested in bidding on pieces from Le Palace should act now; the auction only runs until 17.00 on Thursday. The hotel re-opens in September.


Written by Lisa Bradshaw