The Freedom of the City: Sir Rocco Receives the Key to Brussels

Rocco Forte Hotels

A symbolic gesture, being given the key to the city upholds a tradition that dates back to medieval times when the grand, guarded gates of walled cities were locked at night. To this day, trusted dignitaries and select friends who’ve made a significant contribution to the city are given the key that represents the freedom to enter and leave the city at any time.

A celebration fit for the key

On a crisp, autumnal evening in September 2022, Sir Rocco Forte was joined by guests, family and Rocco Forte friends at Hotel Amigo in the Belgian capital for a celebratory supper befitting the grand occasion of receiving the key to the City of Brussels.

Heralded by the arrival of horse-drawn carriages and a cream coloured vintage Rolls Royce outside the hotel, elegantly dressed guests walked down the red carpet. As attendees circulated and exchanged greetings during a Champagne reception, a trio of musicians created a convivial atmosphere before dinner, envisioned by Chef Fulvio Pierangelini and created by Head Chef Igor Rosi, was served.

Under glittering chandeliers and surrounded by gilt-edged mirrors, a seasonal makeover brought autumnal garlands and foliage to the tables, which were draped in crisp white linen. 

As the finale to the lavish three-course dinner, Sir Rocco was officially presented with a decorative key, symbolic of the key to the city, by the Mayor of Brussels Philippe Close who spoke warmly of the close relationship between Hôtel de Ville (the Town Hall) and Hotel Amigo. Fittingly, many of the hotel’s rooms offer panoramic views over the towering spires of Hôtel de Ville and City Hall.

With his wife Lady Forte by his side, Sir Rocco responded by sharing his great affection for the city, saying, “I’m very honoured to receive this key as a mark of the strong and long-standing relationship between our two houses. As we look forward to celebrating Hotel Amigo’s 65th anniversary next year, this is a valued and timely gift.”

Lady Forte was also honoured in Brussels this season, as The Lady Forte Rose was created in her name as a mark of her contribution to the city’s hospitality industry.

Forte, Sir Rocco
“I’m very honoured to receive this key as a mark of the strong and long-standing relationship between our two houses"

A personal connection for the Forte family

The Forte family has a long and close association with Brussels in general and Hotel Amigo in particular. Tracing the family ties back to 1958, Sir Rocco's parents first stayed at Hotel Amigo while visiting the World's Fair when the hotel was built to accommodate the increased number of visitors and very important guests generated by the exhibition.

Fast forward 42 years to 2000 when Hotel Amigo became the fourth property to join the Rocco Forte Hotels stable after Sir Rocco acquired it from the Blaton family. Under the creative eye of Olga Polizzi, Rocco Forte Hotels’ Director of Design, the hotel’s revamp gave it a more international appeal while retaining a local sense of style and distinctive Belgian touch.

Overseeing Hotel Amigo for 22 years, Sir Rocco is proud to be part of the fabric of Brussels and overjoyed to be given the key to the city.

Hotel Amigo, first for Forte family celebrations

The chosen setting for many Forte family celebrations, Hotel Amigo has hosted memorable parties including Irene Forte’s 18th birthday party. Rocco Forte Hotels’ Wellness Director celebrated her coming of age with a ‘lace ball’ – the dress code and a nod to the city’s cultural heritage, documented at the Lace Museum just steps away from the hotel.

Perfect for any landmark celebration, Hotel Amigo hosted the joyful occasion where clowns dressed in white and gold welcomed guests who enjoyed vodka cocktails named after the birthday girl.


Enquire about hosting your own celebration at Hotel Amigo and discover more about Brussels by emailing or calling +32 2 547 4747.

You may also like

Italy By Rail: Our Family-Friendly Itinerary

While air travel becomes ever more functional, the pleasures of the train are undeniable. you can lose yourself in a book, chat with your favourite people or watch from the window as scrolling landscapes unfold. A rediscovered love for rail journeys and a move towards more sustainable travel has fuelled a European-wide rail revolution over the last few years – but Italy has been running its brilliant services for decades. 

Celebrating the Art of Hospitality with Forbes Five Star Ratings

What makes a ‘five-star’ experience? Between seamless hospitality and indulgent surroundings, Forbes Travel Guide knows a thing or two about luxury service. As the only independent rating system for international luxury hotels, restaurants, and spas, we are delighted that six of our hotels are amongst the winners of its 2024 Five-Star Awards. Read on to uncover some of the highlights…

A Taste of Tuscany: Unveiling the Wines and Legacy of Bibi Graetz

Take a moment to picture the scene. You’re sipping a glass of ruby-red wine on a sun-drenched terrace, overlooking the rolling hills of Tuscany. Below you, the city of Florence stretches out like a tapestry, its iconic Duomo and terracotta rooftops bathed in golden light. A gentle breeze carries the scent of wildflowers and ripe grapes, and the distant hum of the city.