The backstory: Where Botanic Sanctuary Antwerp stands today was once an entire complex of monastic buildings, including the Sint-Elisabeth hospital, and a chapel dating back to the 15th century. Since then, the site has been renovated and reinvented, and it was, until a few years ago, home to the spare, budget-friendly Elzenveld Hotel. Now the historic grounds have been revamped as a buzzy hotel, currently in soft-launch mode, with ambitions to be one of the swankiest stays in the Belgian city.
The space: The property spans 108 rooms and suites, ranging from 270 to over 1,500 square feet. They’re set within five separate buildings, which are now linked together by conservatory structures; the architectural solution is a nod to the original hospital’s glass canopy, and to the current subtle botanical theme. Each room is distinct in design, mixing natural materials (like stone and wrought iron) with elements of the contemporary (reflected in the furniture) and the past (see the ancient exposed beams and use of old painting techniques). Select rooms come with their own terrace, and spa suites feature in-room wellness facilities (including a whirlpool, sauna and Technogym bike).
The dining: The hotel’s plan to be a gastronomic destination, too, shows in the CVs of the chefs — five award winners — at the helm of the four restaurants on-site. The most coveted reservations will be at Hertog Jan, the omakase-style, trust-the-chef set menu concept by Gert De Mangeleer and Joachim Boudens; the duo shuttered their original three-Michelin-starred location near Bruges in 2018 and are bringing it back to life here.
The extra amenities: Taking up three stories in a new building, the Botanic Health Spa includes multiple saunas (Finnish, Himalayan salt stone, infrared), a swimming pool, a steam bath, an ice fountain, and a conservatory with room to lounge around. There’s also an apothecary shop, inspired by the former monastery’s pharmacy, but stocked with modern beauty and wellness goods, like natural skin care, cosmetics and aromatherapy.
The nearby sights: One of the city’s most popular museums, Rubenshuis — the former home of the painter Sir Peter Paul Rubens — is about a six-minute walk. Almost as close is the Meir, one of Antwerp’s main shopping avenues, where major chains occupy 18th- and 19th-century rococo buildings. Fifteen minutes away on foot, you’ll find Grote Markt, the market square, and other landmarks of the historic centre.
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