More than just a hub of sparkling diamonds, Antwerp is full of fashionable boutiques, art galleries, restaurants, cocktail bars, and boutique hotels that make it Belgium’s coolest city.
Part of Small Luxury Hotels of the World, Hote De Witte Lelie is a boutique gem with a fashionable sensibility that’s translated through dazzling design. The impeccably decorated downstairs lounges invite guests to hang out for a while. Upstairs sit 10 individually styled rooms and suites that show off a prismatic mix of colors, patterns, and textures.
Grand in stature but with a boutique atmosphere, Botanic Sanctuary Antwerp is a five-star retreat set inside a 12th-century monastery. The historic details are elegantly completed by contemporary touches and biophilic elements like an abundance of lush plants that bring the property into the present. The conservatory restaurant and sleek spa number among the many standouts.
Part of the new wave of plant-based eateries taking root in Antwerp, eco-conscious and oh-so cool CIRCUS spotlights organic ingredients (most of which are sourced from Belgium) and works towards the ambitious goal of a no-waste kitchen. The interior is bright and cheerful. There’s also a super cute terrace area in the back.
Surrounded by high-end designer shops, De Arme Duivel is an atmospheric and timeless pub-meets-restaurant that serves classic Flemish fare like vol-au-vent, cheese croquettes, and beef stew in a compact space with wood benches, old photographs, and dumbwaiter that brings food up from the kitchen.
Looking for a departure from the many beer-centric establishments around the city? Jones & Co bills itself as “Antwerp’s coziest cocktail bar.” And we see no fault in that assertion. It’s a perfectly pint-sized, no-reservation-needed spot with great energy to grab a some curiously sippable mixologist-made creation.
Marigold is a chic cocktail bar on Vrijdagmarkt, a lively square in the historic part of Antwerp. It has tasty tipples and a seductive vibe with mood lighting, curved-edge tables, leather seating, and lush plants. (Credit goes to Yoeran Stranger on the design front.)
A requisite (read: important and Insta-worthy) stop on any sightseeing tour, Grote Markt is the heart of historic Antwerp. It’s framed by the photogenic city hall, numerous elaborate guildhalls, restaurants, and cafés. And in the middle of everything, sits the beautiful Brabo fountain. The square also hosts holiday markets during the festive season.
Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp
Founded by Napoleon way back in 1810, the Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp maintains a far more sterling reputation than its originator. Browsing the impressive collection of paintings, drawings, and sculptures from the 14th to the 20th centuries is a nice way to get your culture fix—and have something high-brow to chat about with friends old and new.
In a city full of fashion (the Antwerp Six and many homespun sartorial talent played a significant role in that), STAY Antwerp continues to inspire. Situated on Nationalestraat and helmed by the Coucke sisters, the shop sells a curated assortment of threads for ladies and gents. It’s also just the type of place you want to stick around for a while.
There are many venues to see contemporary art in Antwerp but none quite as hip as Tim Van Laere Gallery—high praise in a city with such a creative zeal. The aesthetically pleasing gallery showcases talent from around the world, giving global artists who express themselves through different medians a chance to shine.
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