My husband and I are currently on a 3 1/2 week roadtrip through Europe. Our primary stop was San Sebastián in the Basque Country (Northern Spain), but we wanted to stop along the way to break op the long days on the road. As I am a huge fan of the fashion brand Anine Bing who only has stores in Paris, Madrid and Antwerp*, it made me look further into this city. When I then discovered that we could get hotdogs and champagne for dinner and stroll in a street with only interior design (we just bought a new apartment in Copenhagen), I knew I had found the perfect place for our first city stop.
*Today 9th of July, we’re in our Summerhouse in Barcelona and Anine Bing just announced the opening of a new store in Barcelona as of today!
Maison Nationale in the Sint-Andries area. This is a townhouse with only eight rooms run by a lovely couple. The rooms are very spacious and bright and the bathrooms are to die for! Huge and with large bath tubs. The location is excellent very close to the shopping area. Antwerp is not a big city, so everyhting is reachable by foot really, but here you will literally have everything outside your door step.
If you arrive by car, there is a supervised parking just across the street.
Location: NATIONALESTRAAT 49
Visit the website here
The hotel collaborates with a shop just downstairs, where the breakfast is served (they add it to your room bill). The place has a little café in the back and a little courtyard, which is perfect in summer. The food is simple and good, the only negative of this place is that they do not open until 10 a.m. However, there are lots of other cafés nearby (Le Pain Quotidien for example), so it’s not a real problem.
For an alternative place to stay I believe that Hotel Julien is great (the choice were between Maison Nationale and Hotel Julien when we booked) or Yellow Submarine, which also is a very popular and stylish place to stay.
Frank & Brut
This place is a combination between a restaurant and a deli. They serve gourmet fastfood and champagne, which happens to be a suberb combination! We went on a summer evening where the terrace was open and the atmosphere buzzling. The gourmet hotdogs are to die for and the side dishes as well. We had tuna tartar, a hotdog each and sweet potato fries accompanied by champagne. Very recommendable!
Location: Ernest van Dijckkaai 19
Visit the website here
Le Pain Quotidien
Well, this is not a new thing; I love love love Le Pain Quotidien. I love the fact that I can always get a healthy breakfast, lunch or snack here. The interior speaks right to my heart with the large tables where you can chat with other guests if you like to, or just sit by yourself with a coffee.
There are various LPQs in Antwerp, so just go for the ones that’s nearest where you’re going. We went to the one at Steenhouwersvest street, which is only three minutes walk from Maison Nationale.
Take 5 minutes in Paris
This place is a hidden gem in Antwerp. It has a Parisian feel with a french menu (croques, café au laits…) and a wonderful garden. It is a perfect place to relax during a day of shopping along Kloosterstraat.
Location: Kloosterstraat 50
Antwerp is known as a fashion city. It is home to designers as Dries Van Noten and Dirk Bikkembergs, who both formed part of the “Antwerp Six”, who redefined fashion back in the 1980’s.
The museum is quite small and if you just walk through (like we did), it’s done in around 30 minutes. Honestly I was not impressed by the exhibition, but being in Antwerp it is a must-do and the building itself is quite impressive with a huge wooden staircase as the central point of the museum.
Location: NATIONALESTRAAT 28
Visit the website here
Known as a fashion city there is of course a lot of interesting stores to visit. Just to mention Anine Bing, Damoy (with brands like Magali Pascal, Hironae, Iro and Pureheart), Dries van Noten and the beautiful multibrand store just next to the ModeMuseum.
Antwerp is not only home to a lot of fashion stores, but also to some incredible interior design stores. Along Kloosterstraat and the adjacent streets there are boutiques lined up one after another, both vintage and new. Many of them have beautiful courtyards or other details making it worth spending an afternoon on this street.
Marie Marie is the place to buy bedlinen, pillows and bedsheets. The store is beautifully decorated and has an incredible basement, that will turn you back time. Even if not shopping for linen, you should visit this beautiful place for some inspiration.
Location: Steenhouwersvest 12-14
Visit their website here
The Other Shop is not in the Kloosterstraat area, but near the main square. It is the place to go for books and antique world maps.
Location: Melkmarkt 31
Watch the sunset from the harbour
Close to Frank & Brut lies the harbour. There is an immense pathway along the harbour front which seems to be the meeting point for sunset watchers. Go up there and watch the sunset.