Antwerp’s narrative is one of a burgeoning commercial centre, intimately connected to the River Scheldt. Between the 13th and 19th centuries, its history was characterised by cycles of economic boom and bust. Yet some of the deepest slumps were associated with the greatest accomplishments, notably the artistic careers of Rubens and van Dyck. While contemporary Antwerp prospers, creativity and innovation also flourish along its narrow medieval streets and around its regenerating harbour. A palpable current of design and culture runs through the city, which remains friendly and down to earth, grounded in but unimpeded by affection for its heritage.
KANAAL BY AXEL VERVOORDTDesign Showroom
The Kanaal project is a unique and visionary work in progress by Axel Vervoordt. He is ambitiously restoring a former distillery just outside the city into a functional utopia of apartments, offices and studios. The site is also home to the May and Axel Vervoordt Foundation, showing his designs and exceptional collections of art, sculpture and antiques in reclaimed and reimagined industrial spaces.
- Address: Stokerijstraat 19, 2110 Wijnegem, Antwerp, Belgium
- Phone: 03 355 38 00
- Website: http://www.kanaal.be
This special hotel is a cosy retreat whilst elegant and minimal in design. All the essentials are executed to perfection with added luxuries of a rooftop terrace, courtyard gardens, open fires, cocktail bar and not least an indulgent spa, with REN and Intelligent Nutrients products. This is a perfect place to base a stay in the city and feel that every detail is taken care of.
- Address: Korte Nieuwstraat 24, B-2000 Antwerp, Belgium
- Phone: 03 229 06 00
- Website: https://www.hotel-julien.com
GRAANMARKT 13Concept Store, Restaurant & Apartment
Husband and wife Tim Van Geloven and Ilse Cornelissens, alongside architect Vincent Van Duysen, have converted an entire townhouse to accommodate their vision of home and hospitality in three tiers: restaurant, concept store and apartment. The restaurant serves light, fresh, healthy food in simple surroundings and the store offers an elegant collection of clothing, homeware and objects. The guiding philosophy – to use natural materials to instil comfort and well being – is most apparent in the apartment, which is treated like a home, with great simplicity. A feeling of real luxury emerges from the spare but soft interiors.
- Address: Graanmarkt 13, 2000 Antwerp, Belgium
- Phone: 03 337 79 92
- Website: http://www.graanmarkt13.be
Copyright’s extensive selection of books, which delves into art, design, architecture and fashion, testifies to owner Hilde Pelemen’s passion, knowledge and experience. The shop’s Antwerp home is in the ModeNatie building alongside MoMu, Flanders Fashion Institute and the fashion department of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts. Vincent Van Duysen’s singular interior reconceives a conventional library in Spanish marble and dark stained oak, befitting the wealth of creative inspiration on the shelves.
- Address: Nationalestraat 28A, B -2000 Antwerp, Belgium
- Phone: 03 232 94 16
- Website: http://www.copyrightbookshop.be
COGELS OSYLEIArchitectural Sight
This street’s fine examples of Art Nouveau architecture seem all the more valuable for the fact that it was marked for demolition in the 1960s. Now protected, the buildings have been meticulously restored. Take in the impressive, pale facades and see how many architectural details you can spot among swirling balconies and windows, elaborate front doors and gargoyles.
- Address: Cogels-Osylei, 2600 Antwerp, Belgium
- Phone: N/A
Located on the top floor of the the Museum aan de Stroom (MAS) Chef Viki Geunes’ two Michelin star restaurant creates exciting tasting menus and orchestrates an unforgettable overall experience. Dining here is an event. Book months ahead for a table, or just visit the terrace to experience the stunning views over the city, port and River Scheldt.
- Address: Hanzestedenplaats 5, 2000 Antwerp, Belgium
- Phone: 03 283 40 40
- Website: http://tzilte.be
A. BOONGlove Shop
The original drawers of this old school glove shop, slightly tattered after 120 years of use, are neatly packed with rainbows of gloves in every colour and size. Leathers range from lambskin to crocodile and linings are silk or cashmere. Friendly, knowledgeable staff will encourage you to try as many pairs as you need to find the perfect fit.
- Address: Lombardenvest 2, 2000 Antwerp
- Phone: 03 232 33 87
- Website: http://glovesboon.be
SIR ANTHONY VAN DIJKRestaurant
Marc Paesbrugghe’s restaurant is weaved through with historical authenticity. Named after the 17th century Flemish master, Sir Anthony Van Dijck is on the medieval street Vlaeykensgang, which Axel Vervoordt has faithfully restored. The interior of the restaurant is therefore a unique experience in itself. Dining is relaxed. After being awarded two Michelin stars Marc eschewed all ratings in favour of more rustic bistro style, with great success: this is one of the most popular restaurants in the city.
- Address: Vlaeykensgang, Oude Koornmarkt 16, 2000 Antwerp, Belgium
- Phone: 03 231 61 70
- Website: http://siranthonyvandijck.be
THE RECOLLECTIONConcept Store
The Recollection curates a treasure trove of contemporary objects, homeware, fashion, cosmetics and art which hinge on a sense of nostalgia. The ever changing clean and elegant space layers the minimal and modern with the surreal, fanciful and macabre. This store captures Antwerp’s quirky personality, which beckons to the past even while forging the new, and is a place to discover unusual brands and designers.
- Address: Kloosterstraat 54, 2000 Antwerp
- Phone: 03 257 36 14
- Website: http://www.therecollection.com
The Plantin-Moretus Museum is home to the world’s oldest printing press, and other antique presses still in working order. Christophe Plantin and his son-in-law Jan Moretus were the first to print on an industrial scale and their printing house and workshop are still intact. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the museum incorporates the family’s medieval mansion and courtyard garden, 9th to 18th century manuscripts, antique books, prints and drawings and family portraits by Rubens.
- Address: Vrijdagmarkt 22, 2000 Antwerp
- Phone: 03 221 14 50
- Website: http://www.museumplantinmoretus.be
For a traditional taste of Antwerp, Philips Biscuits are the city’s traditional biscuit specialists. The shop is an olfactory wonderland of spices, almonds, marzipan, butter and sugar, freshly baked. Most famous among the array of biscuit varieties are Antwerpse Handjes, golden and buttery but with gory folklore behind them.
- Address: Korte Gasthuisstraat 39, 2000 Antwerp, Belgium
- Phone: 03 231 26 60
- Website: http://philipsbiscuits.be
NORMO COFFEECoffee Shop
Normo’s relaxed, unstudied eclecticism oozes an accessible coolness to soak up as you sip your coffee. The coffee is where all the serious thought goes, leaving the rest of the place to generate its own natural buzz. They roast their own coffee here and are highly regarded among locals and visitors alike. Large windows and well worn Chesterfield sofas offer excellent people watching.
- Address: Minderbroedersrui 30, 2000 Antwerp, Belgium
- Phone: 049 565 72 43
- Website: http://normocoffee.be
Anyone who appreciates a good woolly jumper will love Morrison, an ultra cool but unpretentious menswear store, with equal regard for humour and quality. Brothers Jan and Patrick Olyslager own the store; their label, Howlin’ is made using traditional methods and local yarns in Scotland and Ireland, yet reflects their hip and playful sensibilities. The accompanying edit of like-minded brands is complemented by handmade ceramics, records and magazines, plus a women’s range for those not content with stealing their boyfriend’s new purchases.
- Address: Nationalestraat 20, 2000 Antwerp, Belgium
- Phone: 03 322 18 51
- Website: http://www.morrison.be
At MoMu, Antwerp’s fashion museum, there is no permanent collection on display. Instead imaginative biannual exhibitions take a strand of fashion history or contemporary culture and spin it into a multidimensional story. Thanks to donations the museum houses a particularly exciting collection of modern designer items, with special focus on Antwerp and Belgian designers.
- Address: Nationalestraat 28, 2000 Antwerp, Belgium
- Phone: 03 470 27 70
- Website: http://www.momu.be
ST VINCENTSConcept store
Owners Henri Delbarre and Geraldine Jackman designed the pared back interior of their concept store, café and exhibition space, which occupies an old print house. They have created a restrained sense of luxury offering a closely edited collection of furniture, clothes and home accessories by coveted designers. The store has a tangibly sociable atmosphere, the effect of having the lovely cafe on site, encouraging visitors to linger over a loose leaf brew from Paper + Tea or a good coffee, sized by a pleasing system of coffee to milk ratios.
- Address: Kleine Markt 13, 2000 Antwerp
- Website: https://www.stvincents.co
MIDDELHEIM SCULPTURE PARKSculpture Park
Over a century of sculpture is represented in Middelheim’s gardens, including Belgian and international artists such as Charles Vandenhove, Auguste Rodin, Jean Arp and Tony Cragg. The park itself is a beautifully landscaped green space in which to encounter the diverse and rewarding collection, which includes many site specific works. The museum team curate the collection skilfully, and you’re bound to leave with a new perspective on sculpture. A library and and shop round off the experience.
- Address: Middelheimlaan 61, 2020 Antwerp, Belgium
- Phone: 03 288 33 60
- Website: http://www.middelheimmuseum.be
Magazyn is a testament to design in Antwerp; owner Thomas Haarman recently launched a furniture line which possesses a particular, very Belgian subtlety. Clean and simple, there is something holistic and calming about the natural palette and materials, and the reverence for hand made items. The beautiful open store is relaxed, browsable and welcoming and, as with many places in Antwerp, is worth visiting to experience the space itself.
- Address: Steenhouwersvest 34A, 2000 Antwerp, Belgium
- Phone: 03 226 66 06
- Website: http://magazyn.be
Little more than an address is needed to entice people into Konditori, where clinical exactitude meets the homeliness of lovingly baked bread. Everything from perfect golden loaves to exquisite cakes and pastries is baked by Steve, who runs the bakery with his wife Angelique.
- Address: Schermersstraat 8, 2000 Antwerp, Belgium
- Phone: 03 344 82 93
- Website: http://konditori.be