Never one to scrimp on style, Antwerp’s established itself as Belgium’s capital of cool. A stroll south down Nationalestraat towards the chi-chi Lambermontplaats square takes in iconic shops, foodie-friendly hotels and the best new boutiques on the block. Leave plenty of time for a good browse: there’s much more to this port city than the cutting-edge digs of the Antwerp Six.
The Antwerp Six veteran’s domed 19th-century HQ vies for attention with eye-catching clothes. They’re ultra-patterned, perfect for peacocking and still the quintessence of Belgian style after more than three decades in the business.
A real insider brand, with roots stretching back to the city’s famous fashion academy. Some 70 collections of surreal, arty jewels have referenced everything from old-school jewellery boxes to New York’s decadent nightlife and bemusing ‘technofossils’.
The paint has barely dried on the Brussels label’s new Antwerp store. Clothes and accessories come with prints created in tandem with Ethiopia’s Kara tribe, renowned for their body painting. The bags inspired by scarification are very cool.
The fashion museum is closed for renovation until 2020, but you can still visit its excellent bookshop Copyright. MOMU runs fashion walks on the first Saturday of the month, including a rare glimpse into its archive.
Every cult beauty and fragrance label you know graces the shelves of this new store, launched by two savvy young Flemish entrepreneurs. Discover under-the-radar brands such as Oskia, Lola James Harper and Ouai.
This vegan café is Instagram gold with its whitewashed walls and Ibiza styling. On the menu, you’ll find superfood smoothie bowls, kombucha and plain old avocado on toast, plus adaptogen-spiked ‘self-love’ lattes.
Interiors guru Gert Voorjans’ maximalist décor is not to be missed (check out those stiletto-shaped chairs). The city’s hottest new concept store also rocks a patio bar and spot-on fashion and lifestyle wares.
This multi-tasking new hotel is set on the main square in ‘t Zuid. Share eclectic small plates in the airy, upscale ground-floor eatery, peruse beautiful objects in the shop or bed down in the stylishly stripped-back rooms.
Beer, waffles, chocolate and culture, and only 2 hrs from London by train.
Visit one of the prettiest towns in Europe and you won't be disappointed, whatever the time of year.
The coolest town in Belgium is well worth a shopping trip or a foodie break.
Image credits: © Stany Dederen; © Stany Dederen; © Kurt de Wit; © Wouters & Hendrix; © Nicolas Schimp; © Stany Dederen; © Fin du Jour; © David Plas; © Enes; © Hotel Pilar; © Eurostar; © Tomas Kubes- Visit Flanders; © Jonathan Ramael