Antwerp, Belgium’s second city, is a magnet for art and history lovers, who enjoy visiting its diamond district, museums, such as the Museum aan de Stroom, and the Cathedral of Our Lady. For a holiday in historical surroundings, stay in the old city, brimming with charming hotels. Here’s our pick – bookable with Culture Trip.
In Antwerp, wander Medieval cobbled lanes lined with Flemish Renaissance architecture, sip coffee in hipster cafes and watch the city lights reflect off the Scheldt River by night. When you’re ready to rest, the old city has excellent places to stay – many of them set in historic buildings – whether you’re looking for sumptuous suites, snug B&Bs or spa getaways.
Savour views of the Cathedral of Our Lady from this classy hotel in the heart of the city. Its lavish romantic rooms have been decorated with Rubens-inspired art on the walls and ceilings, making it feel like you’re sleeping beneath a famous painting. Opt for a romantic, deluxe or tower room for views of the cathedral; all feature ensuites, designer furniture and hardwood floors. If you have a sweet tooth, Hotel O Kathedral has an in-house chocolate shop where you can enjoy a coffee and a selection of Belgian treats.
Banks hosts ever-changing art exhibitions created by young Belgian artists, with some of their work displayed in the walled courtyard. This outdoor space is part of the Daytime Café, where you can take advantage of free drinks and snacks between 4.30pm and 8pm. In cooler weather, there’s also the Lazy Lounge, complete with a fireplace. Book an executive room on the top floor for a cathedral view, a rooftop terrace and even an outdoor sauna. Banks sits in the centre of Antwerp near the market squares and cathedral.
The Gulde Schoen (Golden Shoe) is a high-end all-suite hotel in an Antwerp landmark that once served as a monastery, a palatial home and an antique dealer’s residence. Today, the fully restored 14th-century building features a baroque entrance arch and tranquil inner courtyards. Decadent suites come with living rooms, and many also have kitchenettes, fireplaces, wood-beamed ceilings and views of the cathedral bell tower. Nothing is too much trouble for the concierge, who can arrange private butler service, babysitting and massages.
Stay in a neoclassical building, once housing a bank, with a Michelin-star restaurant in the centre of Antwerp. Named after Belgium’s former currency, Franq features interiors with marble pillars, fine wine cellars and cavernous atriums, with original beams visible in some of the rooms. Don’t miss chef Tim Meuleneire’s Belgian-French menu at Restaurant Franq; there’s also a chic, Parisian-style bar with an outdoor patio that buzzes in summer. Take advantage of the fitness area and central location on Kipdorp Street.
Experience all the classic perks of the Hilton brand at this hotel, set in a historic building right near the cathedral. The five-storey property, built in 1864, was once the Grand Bazar Shopping Mall. It has an opulent ballroom and a roof terrace where you can feast on French-Belgian dishes while taking in views of the Cathedral of Our Lady. Highlights include a chocolate fountain at breakfast, traditional high tea in the Lobby Lounge and a gym. If you can spring for an executive room, you’ll get access to the private lounge.
Hotel De Witte Lelie (the White Lily) is a member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World – and it shows. Set in three gabled, 17th-century buildings, the hotel has a courtyard adorned with flowers, two sitting rooms with fireplaces and the trendy Bronze Bar. It’s the expertly designed suites that steal the show, though, featuring everything from wooden bathtubs to cherry-blossom wallpaper, spiral staircases and cloud-sky mosaic tiling. Splash out on the presidential suite, decorated in Louis XIV style, complete with a crystal chandelier and golden details.
Each room at the Hotel Matelote is unique, featuring artwork by local painters. The interior design draws out the heritage features of this 16th-century building, such as its original wood-beamed ceilings. A highlight is the paved, sunny courtyard, where you can enjoy breakfast. If you’re visiting in winter, the lounge area, with plush sofas and a roaring fire, is the place to relax with a Belgian beer after a day of sightseeing. Here, you’re in the quiet yet central Haarstraat area.
Looking for a homely B&B in Antwerp? Check into Rosier 10, a cute townhouse in the old city centre run by its resident host. There are just four double rooms on offer, each simple and bright in decor. Your host will prepare a complimentary breakfast buffet each day, served either in the intimate dining room or outside on the garden terrace. For sightseeing, you’re a short walk from the Museum aan de Stroom and other key Antwerp attractions.
Beyond the neo-rococo facade of this 17th-century mansion, which was once a soap factory, you’ll find a modern haven. Set on Zand Street, Hotel ‘t Sandt showcases cathedral views from its summer terrace, which serves as the ideal breakfast nook. There’s also a pretty Italian courtyard that begs to be on Instagram. Choose from a range of room options; the most impressive ones are the top-floor cathedral suite and penthouse, complete with fancy sitting areas and city views.
If you’re craving a spa break in Antwerp, Hotel Julien is the perfect place for a pamper session. Its spa lies in the cellars of the 16th-century building, complete with a hammam, a sauna, an ice scrub and a treatment menu. The rest of the hotel, set in two renovated properties, is just as atmospheric, with ornately carved staircases, exposed wood beams and designer decor. Chill out in the lounge bar or on the rooftop overlooking the city – Hotel Julien enjoys a prime position in the ancient centre.
Hotel Rubens boasts a star location near Grote Markt, Antwerp’s picturesque market square. The boutique hotel offers peaceful rooms, particularly the deluxe garden suites with private terraces. Fill up on the complimentary breakfast buffet before you head out to explore the city, and if the weather’s good, you can dine on the patio shaded by the 16th-century brick Pagadder tower. Travelling by car? Hotel Rubens has 11 covered parking spaces, a rarity in the city centre.
Hotel Les Nuits, about a 10-minute walk from the Grote Markt, is set in a former bank building surrounded by designer stores. There’s a swanky feel to the boutique hotel and its 22 individually decorated rooms, the largest of which have soaking tubs. Stay on the top floors for a rooftop view over Antwerp, and enjoy the 24-hour room service, which includes bubbly and a substantial breakfast spread.
The Soul Antwerp, overlooking the Neptune sculpture on Marnixplaats, offers luxury studios in the Zuid (South) area. Each studio is contemporary in design and has all the comforts of home, with an open kitchen, a sitting area, a sleeping area and a bathroom with a walk-in shower. Rates for extended stays are possible. This option is good for people looking for an independent experience of Antwerp.
This tiny hotel is a hidden gem on a side street full of shops, restaurants, bars and cafes – it’d be easy to pass over if you didn’t know where it was. Within a renovated townhouse, the rooms all have period furnishings, so it does feel like staying in an older home. The property also has a reception, a breakfast room and a beautiful courtyard.