contemporary bed & breakfast

rue du houblon 63 hopstraat, coin du diable, 1000 BRUSSELS (map)

Coin du Diable

In the late 19th and early 20th-Century, the notorious devil’s corner of Brussels, the coin du diable, was characterized by industrial buildings, factory owners’ mansions, and small dwellings for workers, all in a labyrinth of narrow alleys and cul-de-sacs. The workers living in the devil’s corner were mainly farmers and dock workers for the Brussels harbour, while the densely populated streets were dominated by vagabonds. It was an eccentric as much as a picturesque district, probably the strangest of Brussels neighbourhoods, and rife with folk legend. The symbol of the area was an effigy of the devil housed in the Coin du Diable pub on a street corner of rue Notre-Dame-du-Sommeil. Every year, a popular street party revived the devil’s legend with plenty of beer and sausages: in the morning the effigy was burned, while in the afternoon a new devil was “born” and placed back in the pub. This curious tradition had its roots in a 17th-Century folk tale according to which the devil had saved an architect from ruin by miraculously completing the construction of a bridge the near-bankrupt man was struggling to finish, and the street parties commemorating this legend continued into the 1950s. Your DRUUM hosts will be delighted to tell you more about the devil’s legend.

DRUUM is housed in one of the first mansions built by a factory owner to be found in the coin du diable, the front house dates from around 1840 and was apparently intended for the head of a local water company. Around a century later, during World War II, the house had come under the ownership of a company named Pipière Vinche et Cie. It was in the premises’ former stables, located behind the main house, that the bookbinder Reliure PLUM printed the clandestine “faux Soir” newspaper that served as an organ for the resistance party. The building has seen an impressive succession of craftsmanship: Pipière Vinche et Cie produced smoking pipes and cigarette holders that are now desirable collectors’ items, while the Cose family made metal watch boxes (their son, Christian Cose, even set up a tram museum here), until the arrival of the renowned family of jewellers, Van Kueken. The patriarch, Paul Van Kueken, is an illustrious Brussels figure: a jeweller by profession, he also paints, draws humoristic cartoons, and sings. An inveterate lover of Brussels, he has organized many folkloric festivities featuring his self-made papier-mâché “giants” while also writing a book about the Ommegang, an annual historical procession. His daughter Marie-France Van Kueken has since taken over the family business and continues to enjoy great renown under the banner of Les bijoux de Marie-France à Tour & Taxi.

It is Paul Van Kueken, who has a long memory of le coin du diable, together with his daughter Marie-France and noted Brussels historian Roel Jacobs, who shared this history with the new owners of DRUUM, Karine and Jo Huygh. Having bought this unique, storied slice of Brussels in 2011, they have taken great care to preserve all of its beautiful detail and charm.

Come and discover this prestigious and historical location!