Three nights in Antwerp – where to stay? A
overpriced fancy hotel in the centre of town, a cheap but unpredictable Airbnb, or something more unique – like Boulevard Leopold?
We chose the latter on recommendation by good friends. A handsome 19th century townhouse in the Jewish quarter, it’s billed as a B&B, but it’s not your average Formica-and-nets affair. With three rooms and two apartments, it has the feel of a private upper-crust home, with breakfast served in a plant-filled atrium that looks onto a verdant garden. We stayed in early January but I imagine feasting on the breakfast hams, jams and cheeses al fresco is no bad way to start your summer daytripping here.
In the adjoining lounge the vibe is relaxed and a little dreamy with moody candlelight, bell jars and mysterious tableaux of pictures, books and curiosities decorating every nook. It’s a particular arty aesthetic, one that’s appreciated by the design and fashion guests who can’t help but become repeat visitors.
We stayed in a generously-proportioned, golden-walled room on the second floor. (Note: there’s no lift, it’s not a hyper-modern type of place and that’s all part of the charm.). From the faded-luxe décor – think marble fireplace, foxed mirrors, vintage dressing table – to the comfy velvet armchairs, this is the kind of place you definitely want to spend some time in, soaking up the atmosphere. (Side note: style bloggers I don’t have to tell you this is #OOTD heaven.) The bathroom is gorgeous too, with the same vintage appeal offered by whitewashed floorboards, original radiators and a huge clawfoot tub.
Despite the lack of lifts and hotel extras like room service and a chocolate on your pillow, Boulevard Leopold is perfectly homely with as much come-and-go ease as our London flat. That’s helped by the amiable host, Martin who will leave you in peace if you’re the anti-social type, or answer your every question about Antwerp, vintage shopping, transport and local eateries. Talking of transport, it’s very easy here because the tram stops right outside, or you can do what we did, which is walk everywhere. The location, in the midst of the traditional Jewish district is a big bonus, in keeping with the historic gentle-paced spirit of Antwerp. In short, if you want a place to stay that’s relaxed, authentic and rather special, then Boulevard Leopold awaits your call…
BOULEVARD LEOPOLD, 135 Belgielei, Antwerp. Bedrooms from €125 a night
Disclosure: Boulevard Leopold hosted us for one night of out three-night stay. (The B&B doesn’t accept credit cards – not uncommon in Antwerp – so remember to take enough cash.)
WORDS AND IMAGES: Navaz Batliwalla/Disneyrollergirl
PHOTOS TAKEN WITH THE OLYMPUS PEN E-PL7
Check out my Antwerp shopping guide here