Article: Christopher George
Being one of the busiest shipping ports on the planet; Rotterdam is rather a pleasant surprise when you discover it to be a sleepy, relaxed and unpretentious city. Although it doesn’t have the hustle, bustle and drama of larger popular cities like London or even Paris, it has this unspoilt quality to it that’s hard to put your finger on.
Rotterdam has embraced the Arts and in recent years has become a hub of creative activity. Art Rotterdam, held on the docks of the Cruise Terminal, hosts an exciting array of contemporary artists and galleries from across Europe. 55employees spent a day exploring the event and found it to be a very strong contender, fighting for a place in the highly competitive art fair market. In fact we were so impressed with the works, we took one of the artists for issue 5 of 55pages.
It’s not the most attractive location, especially as it was pretty much flattened during the Second World War, some may describe it as pretty ugly, but as we often find with the often slung around term “ugly”, there is beauty within which brings with it a strong endearing identity. It certainly demands respect due to its destructive history and its painful rebirth over the past sixty years, and serves to remind us how Europe was once in complete chaos with itself; this alone is worthy of a visit to delve into its history.
The Kunsthal Rotterdam, the city’s huge gallery space which serves up an impressive diary of shows, at the moment is hosting the Jean Paul Gaultier exhibition “From The Sidewalk To The Catwalk” on it’s current global trip. Find out more about this on the 55platforms feature about the opening.
There is a scattering of small independent gallery’s offering contemporary art to view and buy, with a less pretentious price tag and viewing experience than places we have seen in other cities. We stumbled across an EVOL piece at an incredible price. Unfortunately it was too large to get in our suitcase, as was all the wonderful Street Art that we came across.
On a more social level, although the high street is somewhat reminiscent of somewhere in the suburban Midlands, what you don’t have is that aggressive nature you find in suburban England. The modern, trendy bars being more relaxed and more reminiscent of Shoreditch on a Thursday evening rather than a Saturday night in Soho.
On a final must visit, we found 2 traditional bars on the main high street which were like stepping straight back to pre-war Rotterdam. Unexpected, and to many, unwanted. With the almost complete destruction of Rotterdam during WWII, these unassuming gems really captured our imagination of traditional Europe caught in the middle of it’s 21st century redevelopment.
We can’t recommend where we stayed, the Inntel Hotel enough, it boast’s incredible views over the Erasmus Bridge and the developing cosmopolitan skyline.
The Inntel has a brilliant, small health spa, perfect for a lazy few hours chilling out and it is probably the best steam room and sauna we’ve visited. The pool, although small, had great views over the City from the 7th floor, with a slight disco theme to it’s lighting. There was even some gym equipment to top it all off. Brilliant!
The hotel breakfast was superb, with a full buffet offering a huge selection to choose from, it’s not hard to get carried away and try to indulge in everything, and we did have our fair share of the bucks fizz, obviously.
The Euromast being the tallest structure in the city, towering over the Netherlands, houses a restaurant at the top. Simply laid out for dining it has seating arrangements for drinks as well, with great vantage points to survey the city for miles. Well worth a visit either during the day but especially at night.
We would highly recommend Las Palmas restaurant for its food and service, and also makes an interesting trip by boat in the evening, and then a walk back over the bridge to the Inntel Hotel
In the centre of town BLENDER serves up great food and a retro relaxed location.
Here you can enjoy a meal, then sip cocktails at the bar, then pop down to the disco later for a boogie. Perfect! 55employees ended up hanging out at BLENDER for most of the evening, as it had everything we needed for a comfortable social occasion.
Rotterdam is a great weekend break with less stress than the larger European cities. You felt more like taking it easy and relaxing, and with the Inntel Hotel’s spa, it’s simple to achieve this.