The last two days of January, Sacha and I went to Antwerp. Always nice for a nearby citytrip (just a 1,5 hr drive from Amsterdam), and indulge yourself in fashion and food.
We stayed in the southern part of town -‘t Zuid- which is packed with restaurants and cafes, overlooked by the Royal Museum of Fine Arts. ‘t Zuid is the more upscale part of town, with charming classic architecture and near the river beds (Kaaien) of the Schelde. If you go by car you can best park (for free!) at the Vlaamse Kaai.
Since we were only in Antwerp for 24 hours, we mostly browsed around the area and the fashion district. There’s enough to do there, and we need to keep something to wish for the next time we visit.
Our Antwerp recommendations (or how we spent 24 hours):
Sleep: An overnight at Hotel ‘O’ Sud (Leopold de Waelplaats 34) -the hotel we’ve stayed- is ideal for a weekend with your love (just giving you a hint for Valentine’s). Most rooms don’t have a separate bathroom (part of the concept), which is a reason you might prefer to share it with your bf. The interior is minimalistic, but with a luxe feel and a nice view on the square. At the ground floor, adjacent to the hotel reception’s entrance, is Brasserie Nero where you can have your copious breakfast in the morning, as well as drinks or dinner in the evening. It’s open non stop from 7.30 am (weekdays)/8.30 am (weekends) until midnight.
Other suggestions for your stay are:
In the same area, on the Marnixplaats you can opt for SoulShow, which offers various accomodation in a modern-retro look; suites, studios or even a loft. You can also get your hair done at the Soulshow hairspa.
If you’re into the mix of authentic and minimalistic, and you prefer to stay in the city center, Hotel Julien (Korte Nieuwstraat 24) is a good option. Also centrally located within walking distance of the cathedral is Les Nuits (Lange Gasthuisstraat 12) For those who are more on a budget, there’s a Radisson Blu hotel (Koningin Astrid plein 7) with rooms designed by architect Michael Graves.
Eat/Drink: Antwerp is definitely known for high standards in gastronomy. Wether you want to go all out in a star studded venue, or just up for bites with a beer, the options are countless. We aimed for reasonably priced but quality food. As we arrived in the city after lunch, but craving for an aperitif around 4 pm in the afternoon, we settled at Bar Berlin (Kleine Markt 1) -a funny coincidence is that it has the same owner as Nero, the brasserie below our hotel. Can’t visit Antwerp without at least having had a ‘shrimp croquette’, and so we did.
Later that evening we had dinner reservations at Fiskebar (Marnixplaats 11), a trendy fish and seafood bistro located a stone’s throw away from the hotel and surrounded by many bars and cafes for after dinner drinks. We did like the locals do on a Thursday night, and had a beer (‘Kriek’ beer to be exact, because we’re not really beer lovers, and this specialty is a cherry flavoured beer) at Chatleroi (Graaf van Hoornestraat 2)– a typical neigborhood cafe where the locals take their ‘pintje’ (beer), and of which this cafe has many varieties.
Other recommended bars/cafes in that area are cafe Hopper (Leopold de Waelplaats 2), or wine bar Patine (Leopold de Waelplaats 1) across the square. Plus, some restaurants in ‘t Zuid you should put on your list: for Asian food there’s Lucy Chang -Thai/Chinese (Marnixplaats 16-17), Yam Thai -Thai food (Volkstraat 76), Zaowang sushibar and shop -Japanese (Scheldestraat 72-76) or Izumi -Japanese (Beeldhouwersstraat 44).
If you’d rather keep it to classic cuisine -wether typically Belgian, French or Italian ‘t Zuid also offers Hippodroom (Leopold de Waelplaats 10), Ferrier 30 (Leopold de Waelplaats 30) and Brasserie Den Artist (Museumstraat 45).
A local tip -and a bit more downtown- is Hungry Henrietta (Lombardenvest 19).
We turned in early that night (sorry, no Antwerp nightlife report for now) as there was more than enough planned for the next day.
The next morning, after a nice breakfast we strolled to the MoMu, the Antwerp fashion museum and quite a highlight when you visit the city. Especially now that it’s celebrating its 50 years (!), there’s a retrospective exhibition covering a timeline and all the talents that have sprung from the Antwerp Academy of the Arts (housed in the same building), such as Dries van Noten, Haider Ackermann or Peter Pilotto, just to name a few successful designers ‘du moment’.
Completely wrapped in the fashion mood, meant there was some shopping to do. Antwerp boasts a good mix of vintage, high street, trendy boutiques, concept stores and designer shops. We threw our shopping tips in the mix for you as well:
Think Twice (Kammenstraat 85 and Lange Klarrenstraat 21)
For printed blouses, oversized 80’s cardigans, cable knit jumpers, pleated skirts….etc.
Jutka & Riska (Nationalestraat 87)
This is just one of our regular stops. We have Jutka & Riska in Amsterdam because it’s a Dutch concept, but you’ll never what you might find just across the border.
Labels Inc. (Aalmoezenierstraat 3A)
They have a good description for second-hand designer pieces here: pre-loved. The store’s selection is sourced directly from fashion houses, designers and collectors, and includes one-off pieces and exclusive runway samples.
If you have a preference for the more personal approach of a boutique while shopping, the Lombardenvest is the right place. Aside from brandshops such as Acne, Maison Scotch, A.P.C. or Les Petites you’ll also find multi-label boutiques.
Fresh 34 and Fresh 14 (Volkstraat 34 and Lombardenvest 14)
IRO, Leon & Harper, Sessún, April 77…all labels we love in these boutiques on two different locations
Step by Step (Lombardenvest 18)
The pile of wrecked barbie dolls in the window display is what lured us in the shop.
Inside you’ll find various pieces from Alexander Wang, Vanessa Bruno, Band of Outsiders, 3.1. by Philip Lim and Isabel Marant.
Louis (Lombardenvest 2)
For over 20 years Louis offers Belgian finest; Maison Martin Margiela, A.F. Vandevorst, Ann Demeulemeester, as well as Balenciaga, Balmain and Lanvin.
Jeff (Volkstraat 9)
Conceptstore for affordable luxury in your daily life. Home accessories, tableware, a foodies corner. It just opened in June last year.
Graanmarkt 13 (the name is the adress as well)
It’s a bit like your entering the owner’s home, and that’s the athmosphere they wish to create. Therefore the available labels/items feel handpicked as well; an eclectic mix of established designers, upcoming talents and lifestyle products We still regret not buying the Isabel Marant sweater…
Verso (Lange Gasthuisstraat 9)
In a breathtaking old bank building, offering an array of designer must haves and more. If you have the chance, take a little break in the très chique cafe next door.
RA13 (Kloosterstraat 13)
Boutique and event space. More to shop at the online store.
Moose in the City (IJzerenwaag 10-12)
A concept-store which is completely dedicated to Scandinavia. Although we had a preference for the furniture/design/objects section instead of the clothes section.
The Recollection (Kloosterstraat 54)
‘Objects of Desire’ is how they describe it. Have a look at their Tumblr or Facebookpage for the look and feel of this concept store. This is the right adress for Maison Martin Margiela, Piet Hein Eek, Petite Friture and products from Aesop presented in an avantgarde surrounding.
Goldwood (Offerandestraat 1)
Vintage designer home decoration
Hadhi (Nationalestraat 76)
Fair trade furniture and accessories
Rewind (Riemstraat 27)
Aesthethics, design and ecology come together in this shop
Espoo (Vlaamse Kaai 49)
A one-stop-shop for Nordic design adepts. Right where we parked our car at the Vlaamse Kaai you’ll find the Scandinavian labels that matter: HAY, Ferm, Muuto, Normann Copenhagen, Design House Stockholm etc.
You can find a variety of deli’s in Antwerp, and other food/cooking related gems…
Konditori (Schermersstraat 8)
We stumbled upon this bakery in the evening so it was closed, but by the looks of it and this review absolutely stop-worthy.
Antwerps Kookhuis (Terninckstraat 1)
Unleash your inner ‘Masterchef’. In this shop you’ll find all the cooking gear you need to rise to gastronomic heights.
And now…coffee!! With one coffee addict (Sacha) and one recreational coffee drinker (yours truly) we like to discover nice coffee places, and these are pretty cool:
Coffeelabs (Lange Klarrenstraat)
This isn’t just a coffee place, it’s also a creative hub. We had a cool expo from Eastpak here previous from this visit, and there’s also a large roof terrace to hang out when the sun starts showing again.
Coffee & Vinyl (Volkstraat 45)
Forget mp3 or digitally streamed music. Vinyl is back! We must admit it is fun to see how old vinyl records used to like. For the vinyl fanatic it’s sure you’ll find that long lost record here. We just came in for coffee. The coffee menu alone is worth the visit.
STAY (Nationalestraat 49)
Boutique Bar is the name they gave it, and we actually like the sound of that. You can shop in the front part, and have coffee/tea/lunch in the back.
Wasbar (Graaf van Egmontstraat 5)
Part laundromat, part cafe. We’re suckers for these creative, hybrid ideas.
Even if you don’t have any laundry to wash, this place is fun.
All images (except 3 and 9 in the slider) © The Digitalistas