For those of you who still think Amsterdam is Holland’s trendiest spot for a weekend break, think again. Meet Rotterdam: the edgier younger brother of the family, a hipster paradise bursting at the seams with brunch spots, artisanal coffee roasters, vintage shops, record stores and a killer art scene. A mere 45 minute flight from London, Rotterdam is on the way to becoming Europe’s hottest city - so we suggest you get in there before the tourists find out. Not convinced? Here’s a taste to whet your appetite.
By Elly Viner
For those of you who share our suffering of chronic BMDS (Borough Market Deprival Syndrome), fear not. Rotterdam’s answer comes in the form of Fenix Food Factory, a shabby chic haven of gourmet market stalls and wine tasting coves. Take a pew on one of the driftwood benches overlooking Rotterdam’s historic harbour, and prepare to feast on the world. Colourful spreads of authentic Turkish mezze, crispy wood-fired Italian pizza, mountains of French cheese and a cosy bar with 27 craft ales on tap to name but a few. If you try one thing then make it the cheesecake brownie from Jordy’s Bakery…although be warned that no other square-shaped snack you eat for the rest of your life will ever come close to the satisfaction it’ll deliver. For a leisurely brunch by the canal, be sure to take a trip to Bertman’s; exposed brick walls, indoor plants and hearty plates of avocado and poached eggs galore will make any East London punters feel right at home.
For a memorable cocktail experience, book an appointment with the Dr. You’ll receive a text with instructions directing you to a secret location, leading you to a historic townhouse - the former dwelling of Dutch crooks and prostitutes - where a white-coated gentleman will lead you into a plush little 1920's-esque speakeasy. The house rules are simple: no phones allowed (once you get over the despair of not being able to Instagram your drink, this rule is actually kind of liberating - who knew you could actually chat to people in a bar?!) and treat others as you would want to be treated. The Doctor's surgery is a safe and cosy haven, with expert mixologists there to whip you up innovative cocktails to suit every mood.
With a vintage store lurking around every corner, Rotterdam’s shopping scene is far from the mainstream. The best part? Authentic vintage clothes ay astonishingly decent prices – our favourite is Deer Hunter. It’s a chic, simplistic store with stylish garms from every era, where a pair of high-waisted Valentino jeans will only set you back £25.
You know when you visit a city and have to traipse around with a map flapping in your face, navigating your way from museum to gallery, back to museum? Well, the fine people of Rotterdam clearly clocked onto this inconvenience, and in a moment of genius decided to put it all in one place: ‘Museumpark’. No prizes if you guessed this, but it is quite literally a park surrounded by museums. That constitutes a whole NEST of birds, killed with one stone. Aside from the convenience factor, it’s worth a visit for the actual art too. Cutting-edge, contemporary exhibitions and modern Dutch design stand opposite impressionist paintings from the 1800’s – whatever your artistic preference, Rotterdam has something for everyone.