Store locator: Antwerp
This Belgian city is a capital of culture, home to contemporary architecture, Michelin-starred restaurants - and a new, sustainably designed COS store. From where to stay to what to eat, we ask eight locals to share the best parts of the city they call home.
Who better to guide us around Antwerp than the people who know it best? Meet Fien Muller and Hannes Van Severen, the duo behind Belgian furniture design house Muller Van Severen; Roald Duchateau of sustainable eyewear brand Yuma Labs; plus Cedric Vangeel, Hasna Chourak, Laurence Mupagasi, Nick Daman and Olivia Karelina from the new COS store on Huidevettersstraat.
WHERE TO STAY
Muller Van Severen: ‘The South is really charming and cosy – we like the atmosphere there. We’d recommend the August Hotel (august-antwerp.com) and Hotel Pilar (hotelpilar.be) as both nice and relaxing places to stay when you visit Antwerp.’
Roald: ‘My favourite neighbourhoods in Antwerp? Zurenborg and the New South area.’
Cedric: ‘I’ve lived here my whole life, in almost every neighbourhood. My favourite is Eilandje, it’s a close community with lots of water – perfect for zoning out in the sun, just far away enough from the big city buzz.’
Laurence: ‘I’d stay at Zalig (zaliginantwerpen.be) in the old centre of Antwerp – it has a cosy, warm and beautiful interior.’
WHAT TO SEE
MVS: ‘Valerie Traan (valerietraan.be) is a gallery situated in an old convent in Antwerp’s historical centre. The Cathedral is also worth a visit, plus in the north, there’s the Droogdokkenpark, where you get a great view of the Schelde.’
Roald: ‘For art, go to Tim Van Laere Gallery (timvanlaeregallery.com), Gallery Sofie Van de Velde (sofievandevelde.be) and PLUS-ONE (plus-one.be). Then, dive into a local pub or bar and have a go at one of the thousands of local Belgian beers. Enjoy with a portion of local cheese, and after a couple of beers try your best at trying to speak “Flemish”.’
Olivia: ‘I’d recommend IBASHO (ibashogallery.com). They show the versatility and beauty of Japanese photography in its many guises.’
Nick: ‘I like FOMU photography museum (fomu.be). If you’re looking for a hidden gem, visit the indoor swimming pool at Veldstraat. It’s an Art Deco building from 1932, designed by the architect Daniel Joseph Algoet.’
WHERE TO EAT & DRINK
MVS: ‘There are a lot of good restaurants… But if we had to pick one it would be Camino (caminoantwerp.com). Order a rice bowl with pork belly.’
Roald: ‘Check out PAKT (pakt-antwerpen.be): an amalgamation of offices, bars and eateries – plus the best sourdough pizzeria in town. All on a renovated military hospital site.’
Laurence: ‘BarBel (flavoursofbel.com), definitely. The owner is so friendly, and it has the best wines ever!’
Cedric: ‘For me, it’s Bar Brut (barbrut.be) – a casual and cosy wine bar. I always go for a natural wine and the peppadew dip.’
Nick: ‘What to order when you’re in town? That’s easy: the risotto at Le John (lejohn.be).’
WHAT TO DO IN A DAY
MVS: ‘First, start with a nice brunch – there are so many great places to choose from. Then, head to the Rubens House (rubenshuis.be) or The MAS (mas.be), or go for a bike tour along the Schelde. After that, a well-deserved drink before dinner in one of the local restaurants.’
Roald: ‘Breakfast at Butchers Coffee (butcherscoffee.be) followed by a stroll down to the Kammenstraat for some early (window) shopping. Stop for lunch at Camino before chilling out at the riverside park. Start the evening with dinner at Ni Shifu (nishifu.be/nl), a traditional Sichuan restaurant, then catch a concert in De Roma (deroma.be), a renovated cinema run by volunteers.’
HOW TO TALK LIKE A LOCAL
MVS: ‘A good phrase is “Een boerke alstublief” if you want to order a beer in a bar.’
Roald: ‘“Oewisdanameugelek (Hoe is dat nu mogelijk)”, meaning “Are you serious?” or “You must be joking.”’
Hasna: ‘Of course, the most important phrase you should learn before visiting is “Waar kan ik de nieuwe COS winkel vinden?” which means: “Where is the new COS store?”
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