Old buildings, ports and markets: so far, so every other European city break you’ve ever been on. But Antwerp is also big on luxey living, high fash and supercool entertainment. Big name fashion designers, known as the Antwerp Six (including Dries Van Noten and Ann Demeulemeester) made an important and cool impact on the city. Make like Margiela and do Antwerpen in style.
Stay // Granmaarkt 13
This luxury, two-storey apartment at Graanmarkt 13, with four bedrooms and rooftop terrace has panoramic views of the uber cool theatre district. In case you were planning on staying in one building for you entire trip — that's totally possible, there's a concept store and restaurant downstairs. It sleeps six, so bring friends (and share the eye-watering price tag). Just as beautifully minimal, but slightly more affordable is hotelpilar.
Eat // The Jane
The Jane is housed in a 19th century chapel of a former military hospital, transformed in 2014 by Piet Boon architects into a 21st century, high-end dining experience. The open kitchen sits where the altar was originally, so all tables get a view of the action. Be warned, it's pretty darned popular and there's a fairly lengthy list of instructions on how to book. But it'll be oh so worth it.
Drink // Bar Barbure
Eschewing the muted, minimalist vibe elsewhere in the city, Bar Burbure is Art Deco heavy and all about the dark greens and copper fixtures. There’s an impressive cocktail list and they specialise in home-made Vermouths and botanicals. Do with that info what you will (and definitely have a Pickled Dry Martini).
See // Middelheim Museum
Home to Rubens and contemporary art galleries around *litch* every other corner, the Antwerp art scene is big. Middelheim park is an outdoor sculpture museum, with around 400 artworks scattered around the 30 acres of parkland. Spot heckin’ famous works by the likes of Ai Weiwei, Rodin and Hepworth while you picnic in the grounds. Admission is totally free.
Shop // Magazyn
Magazyn is a chic interiors shop that is about as close to a museum for minimal living as you can get without paying an entrance fee. White walls, concrete floor and covetable everything in between, from ceramics to cutlery, linen and lighting. Okay, so you probably won’t be buying any furniture whilst in Antwerp. But maybe splash out on hold luggage on the return flight for everything else in there.
Fly to Antwerp every weekday with VLM from Birmingham Airport.