It may be known as Netherlands’ “second” city, but it seems dynamic Rotterdam has stepped out of Amsterdam’s shadow with its progressive architecture, an increasingly diverse and multi-ethnic community, and a burgeoning creative scene. Make time for these must-visits.
Fancy an indulgent pampering session? At Mainport hotel, you can get that without even leaving your room.
STAY: Mainport (77 Leuvehaven, tel: +31 10 217 5757, www.mainporthotel.com)
Located on the bank of River Maas, and aﬀ ording sweeping views of the iconic Erasmus Bridge and the city skyline, Mainport is conveniently within reach of many of the city’s highlights – though you may find it diﬃcult to tear yourself away from this stylish Design Hotels member. All 215 rooms (room rates vary by season) are kitted out with plush beds and cool furniture by local designers, and many rooms oﬀer facilities you’ll usually find only in spas, such as oversized hot tubs and private saunas. Consequently, Spa Heaven, the hotel’s in-house spa, pulls out all the stops with a Turkish steam room, a hammam complex with heated marble tables, a Finnish sauna with panoramic views, and a full range of relaxing body massages, gratifying body wraps and cleansing facial treatments.
Drinks against a backdrop of a sprawling city view – what’s not to like?
CHILL OUT: NHOW BAR (Level 7 Nhow Rotterdam, 137 Wilhelminakade, tel: +31 10 206 7600, www.nhow-rotterdam.com/bar-kitchen)
The four-star Rotterdam hotel is located in the iconic De Rotterdam building designed by celebrated architect Rem Koolhaas. Here, it’s the seventh-floor hotel bar – voted Best Hotel Bar of Rotterdam in 2014 – that you want to check out. Decked out in sleek white and black, its floor-to-ceiling windows oﬀ er stunning views of the city skyline. Order a delicious cocktail (from 7.50 euros, or roughly S$12), then head out onto the rooftop terrace to lounge in style. Beer lovers, take note: a quarter pint of Heineken goes for just 3 euros! On Fridays and Saturdays, stay a bit later – local DJs spin till 2am.
Fuel up at the restaurant section of Bird before spending the night grooving to great music in the nightclub.
Equal parts restaurant, club and live-music venue, Bird is located under the old Hofbogen train station, an area with a rich music tradition. While Bird is deeply rooted in jazz, the nightclub does branch out to soul, Latin, funk, R & B, hip-hop, Afrobeat and electronica, making it one of the hottest spots in town for young and adventurous culture vultures. If you’re here early, nip into the restaurant side of the club and order up a wood-fired-oven pizza (from 9 euros) as an energy booster for the night ahead.
Make a stop at Ter Marsch & Co. for its De Burgeresse and you can lay claim to having tasted the best burger in the whole of Netherlands.
EAT: TER MARSCH & CO. (70 Witte de Withstraat, www.termarschco.nl)
This burger bar now lays claim to being one of the best in the whole of Netherlands after its De Burgeresse burger was deemed the best last year at a nationwide F&B trade fair. The joint occupies the former space of a century-old butchery of the same name on the bustling Witte de Withstraat, and its industrial-chic get-up, convivial atmosphere and downright delicious burgers have people flocking to it. Don’t let its no-reservations policy deter you; the De Burgeresse, which comes with a Wagyu and Scottish Angus beef patty topped with truﬄe gravy, young salad, pickles, tomatoes, Spanish white onions and local farm cheese, is worth the wait.
Everything at Groos is either made in Rotterdam or designed by the people of the city.
SHOP: GROOS (203 Schiekade, tel: +31 10 413 3344, www.groosrotterdam.nl)
“Groos” is an old forgotten Dutch word for “pride” and is an apt name for a concept store that sells only local products. Whether it’s a knitted scarf from Granny’s Finest or a handmade, vintage-design-inspired tea towel from Stiksel you’re looking for, Groos is bound to have something to tickle your fancy. Buoyed by the city’s growing creative scene, the shop is working on becoming a collaborative platform for everything fashion, design, art, music, literature and film – to that end, it has an expansive basement studio that currently houses designers, photographers and even a small tattoo shop.