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Antwerp, city on the banks of the river Schelde is known for the legend of Brabo, its huge world (sea)port, Diamond district, international university and plenty of other things. Compared to other European cities, like the capital city of Belgium – Brussels, but also Amsterdam, Berlin, Paris, Barcelona,… Antwerp is relatively small. But it offers plenty of possibilities to visit and enjoy a wonderful trip to the city of Diamonds.
What most people don’t know is that the city hosts plenty of hotels from various hotel chains, each with their own loyalty program of course. With this article I will try to guide you through those so you can get an idea where to stay in order to earn points or at which hotels you can burn your points.
Which hotel chains are represented in Antwerp?
Antwerp holds a mix of different brands, some of them are well known and others are not that familiar with most point hoarders:
- Accor (6 hotels)
- Best Western (1 hotel)
- Club Carlson (2 hotels)
- Hilton (1 hotel)
- IHG (2 hotels)
- Lindner (1 hotel)
- Wyndham (1 hotel)
The Accor hotels group is best represented, followed by Club Carlson and IHG. There are plenty of other hotels in the city which are not part of any loyalty program, but I won’t cover those in this article. These hotels can be found on well known OTA (Online Travel Agencies) like Booking.com, Trivago, Hotelscombined, Rocketmiles, Pointshound, Kayak, and so on…
Accor has the largest number of hotels in Antwerp, although 2 of them are far outside the city center and I would not recommend staying there. Nevertheless I will mention them here, just so you know they are there.
- Hotel Ibis Antwerpen Centrum
This 3 star hotel is located within the historical and commercial center of the city, right across the famous “Vogelmarkt” where every weekend the market is organised with plenty of stalls selling a variety of foods, especially check out the ones selling dried fruits or the various types of olives. This hotel is within walking distance of the main shopping street and there are plenty of bars and restaurants around.
- Hotel Mercure Antwerpen Centrum Opera
This 4 star hotel is at about a 10 minute walk from the historical city center and on your walk over there, you will pass over the Meir shopping street. The vicinity of the Central Station, Zoo and Flemish Opera only add to the location benefits. Like the first hotel, this hotel is a short walk away from a selection of nice bars and restaurants on the Keizerlei.
- Hotel Ibis Styles Antwerpen City Center
This 3 star hotel is located on the Astridplein, literally a 1 minute walk away from the Central Station, so all the connections of public transport and a bus connection to Brussel Airport are right at its doorstep. If you exit the hotel and take a right you will see the train station, if you continue you will get onto the Keizerlei with plenty of shopping possibilities and places to eat and drink.
- Hotel Ibis Budget Antwerpen Central Station
This 2 star budget hotel is located behind the Central Station and the Zoo and is very easy to reach by exiting the train station at the rear and then taking a left. It’s about a 5 minute walk from the track to the hotel. Although the location might look good, it’s further away from the historical center with all its benefits like shopping, bars and restaurants. It will take you about 20 minutes to walk or you could take the public transport, more on that later.
- Hotel Novotel Antwerpen
(far outside city center) This 3 star hotel is located outside of the city center, so unless you need to be in the port area for business, I would not recommend it, although it’s one of the only hotels in Antwerp that has an outdoor pool. If you want to see and feel the charm of the historical city center, this is not the place to be.
- Hotel Ibis Budget Antwerpen Port
(far outside city center) This 1 star budget hotel is located in the port district, 5 kilometers away from the city center and like the Novotel I would only recommend staying here if you have business meetings to attend in the harbour. Be aware that there are no bars or restaurants in the area and public transport isn’t as good as in the city.
The Best Western Hotel Docklands is also located far outside city center and therefore I would not recommend it. It’s close to the port district and out of reach of any entertainment, shopping possibilities, bars and restaurants in contrast to what their website says. It offers plenty of parking space, complimentary breakfast and good connections to the highways to Amsterdam, Brussels, Gent and Rotterdam.
- Radisson Blu Astrid Hotel
This 4 star hotel is located right across from the Central Station and right next to the Chinese district. Its distinguished look is an eye catcher for any passers by. The hotel was reviewed by one of our bloggers, his review in Dutch, can be found here.
- Park Inn by Radisson
This 3 star hotel is also located on the Astridplein, next to the Zoo and the Central Station. It’s a small but nice hotel, I have stayed here on a 2 for 1 rate with a Club Carlson promotion and managed to score 27,000 points and only paid 45 euros! When booking the 2 for 1 rate, the breakfast is included. The front desk staff is very friendly, but I found the breakfast area to be claustrofobic, especially when it’s crowded.
The Hilton “Old Town” is the best located hotel in the city in terms of proximity to the city center. It’s a 1 minute walk away from the Groenplaats, 3 minutes from the Grote Markt and the Meir (main shopping street in Antwerp). I have not stayed here myself and have heard mixed reviews about it when it comes to recognition of loyalty elite members. One thing is for sure, you can’t beat its location.
- Holiday Inn Express Antwerp North
The hotel is located on the edge of the city center and has good connections for transport by car and bus. There is actually a bus stop right in front of the hotel. If you walk around to the back of the hotel, you will find the yacht harbour and the MAS museum. All the times I have stayed here, either week days or during the weekend, it’s always pretty busy but not in an overcrowded way. The staff is really friendly but some of the rooms seem to be badly maintained. The city center is a short taxi ride away or if you want to stretch your legs, it will be about a 30 minute walk.
- Crowne Plaza Antwerp
(outside city center) This hotel is located pretty far outside the city center, right next to the Ring road around Antwerp. So be aware that when you open your window at night for some fresh air, you will hear car traffic even up on the higher floors. I have stayed here once and found the rooms to be outdated. I got a double upgrade to a superior room and didn’t find it attractive so the standard rooms can only be worse. They have a restaurant and bar downstairs next to the lobby area and a breakfast area in the back. The time we stayed there, the staff wasn’t very attentive and breakfast buffet wasn’t appetizing. Personally, I would not stay here again.
The Lindner group is little known in the world of loyalty programs but they do offer a splendid hotel right behind the Central Station in Antwerp. The hotel is mostly frequented by business people and its location is ideal for those who want to be in the vicinity of any public transport connections. You can either have breakfast at the hotel or there is a good place right outside, called Le Pain Quotidien, which serves some great breakfast, salads and sandwiches.
The loyalty program of Wyndham is little known in Europe but Antwerp does have the Tryp Hotel which is located about 1 kilometer away from the Central Station in the Zurenborg district. The hotel does offer good connection with public transport and/or taxi to get to the City Center. The hotel is known by the locals for its signature Sir Plantin Royal Breakfast Buffet.
Transport to & from Antwerp
If you plan to visit Antwerp from abroad, then most likely you will fly into either Amsterdam (AMS) or Brussel (BRU) and both airports have excellent connections to get to Antwerp. The train station at AMS airport is located under the main hall, there you can either take the Thalys (high speed train) or the international train from Amsterdam to Brussel. The journey with the international train is a bit longer, but it’s less expensive then taking the Thalys for which a reservation is obligatory.
Flying into BRU airport offers you 2 options to get to Antwerp, you can either take the train at the station located under the airport or you could take the Brussel Airport Express bus. This bus service costs 10 euros (cash only) a person and will take you the Astridplein in Antwerp, which is right in front of the Central Station and the ride will last about 1 hour. The bus also makes a stop at the Crowne Plaza hotel in Antwerp.
Transport in Antwerp
It’s very easy to get around the city center of Antwerp, most main attractions are within walking distance. If you don’t feel like walking then the city offers a solid network of public transport in the likes of buses and trams. The best way to get onto these is to buy a 14 euro card from “De Lijn” and you insert this in the machine every time you get on. Per ride your cost will be 1,40 euros per person, so you’ll need to validate the card according to the number of people you’re travelling with. Please note that these cards can only be purchased with cash money at the vending machines from De Lijn or at a ticket counter (Rooseveltplaats).
Another option for getting around town is the rent-a-bike system called “Velo Antwerpen”, which is similar to the systems used in Barcelona and Paris. A day pass will cost you 3,60 Euros and a week pass is being sold for 8 Euros. You can buy these passes online and pay with either Visa or MasterCard. More information can be found on this link.
Transport to other cities
If you plan to go sight seeing in any other Belgian cities likes Bruges, Brussels or Gent, the easiest and cheapest way to get there is by train. I love using the train to get around, as there is an extended network that will take you to any major city in Belgium. My preferred ticket to purchase is a card called a “Rail Pass”, which will set you back 76 euros and holds 10 rides in second class coaches between any Belgian cities. The advantage of the “Rail Pass” is that you can use it for multiple people. Just fill out a line for each person you’re travelling (one way) with and you’re done. The cost breaks down to 7,60 euros a person for each ride.
Forget French fries, if you’re in Antwerp you must taste ‘Vlaamse frieten’ (Flemish fries), way better than those French matches! Best places are Frituur Number One, close to the Grote Markt or Frituur Falcon which is close to the MAS Museum.
Visit the ‘Grote Markt’ where you can see the city hall and the statue of Brabo, if you want to hear about the legend, make sure to arrange a city guide as they always tell great stories!
There are so many cultural places to see in Antwerp, don’t forget to check out the old Cathedral, Het Steen, the MAS Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts and last but definitely not least, what would a visit to Belgium be without beer? If you love beers, please go to the Kulminator which was voted in the top 5 of the world’s best beer pubs.
Wherever you plan to stay, whatever you plan to do, just make sure to have a good time in Antwerp!