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Stylish Antwerp

Emily Mott Antwerp

Photo: Emily Mott

You won’t hear locals bragging about it, but Antwerp’s the best ‘little big town’ in northern Europe,” says Ben Bolduck, the American sous-chef at the Michelin-starred Dôme (2 Grote Hondstraat; 32-3/239-9003; dinner for two $220), the city’s hottest dining ticket for more than five years. Combining the history of one of Europe’s oldest (and richest) ports with the energy of a contemporary fashion capital (thanks to pioneering Flemish designers such as Ann Demeulemeester and Dries Van Noten), Antwerp is in a league of its own. Indeed, as several Next Hot Cities in northern Europe have enjoyed their moments in recent years, Antwerpers just keep doing what they do best: quietly creating absurdly stylish places to eat, shop, and relax. Just south of the old city, the Zuid district—which, for years, was only mentioned with the qualifier “up-and-coming”—is now the city’s glamorous nexus. New restaurants abound. Craving scallop ceviche and aquavit?Hit Fiskebar (12–13 Marnixplaats; 32-3/257-1357; dinner for two $70), a white-tiled Danish joint. Or do you fancy pad thai and an industrial-emporium vibe?Then Lucy Chang (16–17 Marnixplaats; 32-3/248-9560; dinner for two $65), across the way, is your best bet. Later this spring, the 12-suite hotel Delaneau 20 (20 Karel Rogierstraat; delaneau20.com; doubles from $367) will open in connecting town houses, with a spa, tea salon, and cocktail lounge. And the area around the Nationalestraat is brimming with new boutiques. Among the best: the daring shoe store Elsa (147 Nationalestraat; 32-3/226-8454); Baby Beluga (1 Volkstraat; 32-3/289-9060), a fuchsia-and-black jewel box filled with frothy dresses and accessories; and Violetta & Vera Pepa (24 Nationalestraat; 32-3/238-0021), carrying two sisters’ pared-down women’s line. (The Pepas have also opened a B&B above their shop: turn the page for more.) But is the city still on the major fashion players’ map?Just ask Yohji Yamamoto. In October, he cut the ribbon on his Antwerp boutique (32 Nationalestraat; 32-3/213-2178)—the largest Yamamoto store in the world.

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