All the best bits of Amsterdam’s hotter sister in one handy-size guidery.
Where is it? What is it? Why is it?
It had the bollocks bombed out of it during the war, which is bad for anyone who lived there then, but at least it leaves a nice blank canvas for crazy modern architects to get all creative over. Not pretty like Amsterdam but smack-in-the-mouth audacious when it comes to putting up a big building – maybe in blue! – with a big bit overhanging at the top so it looks like it’s going to fall over. And then let’s allow people to abseil down it. Yep, it’s an out-there kind of place, architecturally at least.
Where to stay
Down by the water in the industrial-chic-but-properly-industrial area of Lloydstraat, where loft-style apartments are going up alongside eye-boggling glass blocks, is this converted power-station, now a swishy hotel called Stroom (see below and above). From the huge five-story atrium as you walk in, to your two-storey room with a view (down into the double shower – porn scenario or what!) it is a place of design and loveliness with touches like a lift floor that changes colour when you step in, projector tellies in the rooms and a funky bar/restaurant that goes out onto the street then up onto the roof.
A standard studio with double occupancy starts at around £95 per night. For reservations call 00 31 10 221 4060 or visit www.stroomrotterdam.nl
What to see
Architecture. In general. Hire a bike from Stroom and take yourself on a cycling tour along those very safe paths, round the Lloydstraat bit of the dock, past the Euromast (where you can stay in a suite at the top or abseil down the side), along to the gorgeous Calatrava bridge (see below), along the waterfront or into the Museumpark, an area of funky art and architecture places, often with rather nice eateries attached. The shopping centre is a bit whatever (like Romford precinct, before they glassed it over) so you can save yourself time by missing that.
Where to eat
Round the corner from Stroom, opposite huge industrial ships is a restaurant cunningly fashioned from old shipping containers. Yep, for real. It’s called Wijn of Water and it’s strange and exciting, especially if the weather’s nice with outside seating and a good view of any sunset action there might be. Alternatively, and it’s great for a weekday lunch, stop by at Huson, where smart ladies and funky media types sit on burgundy leather banquettes to scoff the most delicious fare – including little home-made chocolates at the end.
Wijn of Water, 101 Celebes. 00 31 10 477 8454
Huson, 14 Scheepstimmermanslaan. 00 31 10 413 0371
Where to go out
The main nightery for gennelmen of distinction is called Gay Palace, which finds itself in the most unlikely residential area (close to the centre) opposite a children’s park. Surprisingly big for a town this size, it rounds up the quite-game-for-a-laugh locals and throws easy-to-understand tunes at them in fairly glamorous surroundings. Expect bars upstairs, downstairs and, probably, in the ladies’ chamber, podium action and Rotterdam’s best-dressed with a few straight couples mixing it up (well, this is Holland after all). The most you’ll ever pay is ten Euros.
Gay Palace, 139 Scheidemsesingel (behind Witte de With Straat, which is quite nice for shopping during the day)
How to get there
transavia.com flies between London Stansted and Rotterdam with regular fares from £37 one way. To book flights visit www.transavia.com or call 0906 680 0065.