When Southeast Asians travel to Europe individually or in groups, they often include in a brief one-day visit to Bruges and Brussels or skip Belgium altogether.
Fashion, Design & Culture, in addition to Diamonds
When Southeast Asians travel to Europe individually or in groups, they often include in a brief one-day visit to Bruges and Brussels or skip Belgium altogether. In truth, they are missing one of the most vibrant cities in Belgium. Known worldwide for its diamond district, Antwerp is the self-proclaimed capital of avant-garde fashion. Paving the way back in the ’90s, the Antwerp Six made a name for themselves in the international fashion collection circuits, and in the process, the city was suddenly thrust into spotlight. The vibrant port city of Antwerpen – which means “throw the hand,” (Flemish name for Antwerp or Anvers in French) has its fair share of historical buildings and deep-rooted culture.
One of the ten biggest ports in the world, Antwerp has the oldest stock exchange building that dates back to 1531 and was rebuilt in 1872. Both contributed gradually to make Antwerp a major trade and cultural centre. Home to over 170 nationalities, a minimum of three languages are fluently spoken (Dutch, French, English) here. Antwerpenaar (inhabitants of Antwerp) are known to be cool, cosmopolitan, and social – a feature that is reflected in their design and cuisine. To get an authentic taste of stylish Flemish interiors, it is recommended to stay in one of the many boutique hotels around the city.
Hotel Franq is located just a stone’s throw from the Meir and Onze-Lieve-Vrouwe Cathedral. This luxury hotel will delight visitors with its combination of historical charm and contemporary chic visuals. Style maven Anok Van Spaendonck carefully selected elegant furniture and added refined touches in the public spaces to make everyone welcome and feel at home. Combining subtle colours and Asian elements in a neo-classical building that was formerly a bank, the property derives its name from the country’s old currency. The vault where the Belgian Francs were once stored has been restored to its former glory and transformed, of all things, into a unique wine cellar.
The gastronomic restaurant Franq will spoil connoisseurs with contemporary French-Belgian gourmet cuisine in an elegant setting. Fine cuisine is prepared by renowned Chef Tim Meuleneire and his team, whose previous success include his Restaurant De Koopvaardij. The hotel opened its doors to guests last October 2017 with a lavish party. Caviar from Imperial Heritage and Bollinger Champagne were served with freshly made canapes prepared by Chef Meuleneire’s team. The desserts were not forgotten with Del Rey Chocolate, and patisserie Toon de Klerck topped with premium coffee from Caffe Mundi. For those who missed this party, all these delicacies are available at the hotel bar and restaurant, daily.
© This article was first published in Dec-Jan 2018 edition of World Travel Magazine.