First Images: Sapphire House is Antwerp’s Most Stylish New Hotel

It’s true, we genuinely never tire of Paris, Amsterdam or Berlin. But our truly happy place on the Continent has long been the Flemish half of Belgium, for the beauty of Bruges, the energy of Ghent, and most especially the effortless style of everything about the region’s inimitably cool capital of Antwerp. It’s a city that never boasts about itself, yet has at least a thousand plus ten really good reasons to do so.

It also loves its boutique hotels to be small and chic – indeed, three of our favorites, De Witte Lelie, the Julien and the August boast just 11, 21 and 44 rooms, respectively. But change is (mostly) inevitable, and a notable new member of the Autograph Collection will be opening along the city’s handsome Lange Nieuwstraat this spring, with 139 rooms in total, representing a new hospitality paradigm for the city.

Indeed, Sapphire House has something of the epic about it, connected as it is to the spectacular De Handelsbeurs building, which was the first purpose built commodities exchange when it opened in 1531 (London’s Royal Exchange was modeled after it). From 1872 to 1997 it acted as the Antwerp Stock Exchange.

Now it’s a particularly momentous feature of this architecturally eminent new hotel, with one distinct advantage being that events for up to 1600 people can be booked through the Sapphire and held within the awesome, late Gothic style splendor of the exchange. And since Antwerp is the diamond capital of the universe, one can conveniently pick up the ring on the way to what is sure to be a truly unforgettable wedding experience here.

Upstairs, those 139 rooms, with names like Emerald King, Ruby Superior, and Diamond Junior Suite, will feature historical detailing, original artworks, eclectic furnishings…and each has a sapphire shaped table as a unifying design element. Public spaces boast strikingly patterned flooring, baroque ceiling details and contemporary lighting fixtures for contrast – while the PLANTn restaurant is set to have, as the name suggests, a focus on innovative plant based dishes. There’s a full gym with Enforce training sessions available.

The hotel is scheduled to open in April, and spring will most definitely be a good time culturally to be in Antwerp. Specifically, the Museum of Contemporary Art will be showing Part 3 of A Non-U-Mental History of M HKA, which looks at the city’s burgeoning avant-garde scene during the 1970s, and the Proeft culinary festival will be taking over the harborside ‘t Eilandje district from May 26 – 29. But we strenuously recommend making the time for a stop at Ann Demeulemesster‘s newly redesigned flagship at Leopold de Waelplaats 2000, before making the nearby rounds of Christian Wijnants, Maison Anna Heylen and Modepalais Dries Van Noten, for a properly fashionable visit to one of our favorite European cities.

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