Stay The Night: Hotel Les Nuits, Antwerp
You almost expect to see Bogey in this noirish hotel. Yet Antwerp's latest bolthole is no exercise in nostalgia, says Adrian Mourby
Sunday 13 March 2011
Black is big in Antwerp's Hotel of the Nights.
From the shiny black lobby, a lift swishes up to 24 rooms on three floors, all hidden behind heavy black doors. En route, dramatic downlighting illuminates vases and quirky bits of sculpture. This is, indeed, a noirish hotel. Though children are welcome, you half-expect fellow guests to be wearing Bogie trench coats or Barbara Stanwyck gowns.
But Les Nuits is no exercise in nostalgia. It sits on the edge of Antwerp's Fashion District above Belgium's trendiest store for interior decor. Flamant Home Interiors is famous around the world now for its "Bourgeois-Bohemian" blend of nonconformity and elegance, tradition and cool. That distinctive style – exposed brickwork, leather sofas and pseudo-antiques – has translated well into Flamant Dining above the flagship store on Lange Gasthuisstraat. And a year ago the rooms above the restaurant were, in turn, converted into a hotel.
Bedrooms come in four categories. "Solo Slim" and "Cosy Sleeping" are the standard twins and doubles. "Just Friends" and "Nothing To Hide" are the deluxes. Manuel Opdenakker, also of Antwerp's fashion district, was the designer. Expect a lot of black – black lacquer headboards, monochrome prints, even black bath tiles in some rooms. A few rooms essay a little colour but mainly its black and white and yet more black all the way. Dramatic lighting is softened by large candles in enormous glass bowls. There's a sense that you're sleeping in a fashion shoot. Not everything works (in one "Nothing To Hide" double, the massive black bathroom door hits the massive black bed every time you open it and effectively cuts the room in two) but that's what happens when you find yourself sleeping in some designer's dream. Beds and mattresses are by Auping, which has been helping the Dutch sleep well since 1888. Bed linen is by Flamant, of course. The Philips TVs are wall-mounted and the toiletries are by Kiehl's of New York.
The food and drink
Breakfast is taken in Flamant Dining downstairs and is served from the big black bar. There's something rather louche and "morning after" about eating breakfast in a bar, however well it has recovered from the night before. Hotel guests get a welcome drink voucher from Flamant Dining on arrival, which is a nice touch – although if you intend to stay on past your 6pm glass of fizz make sure you can afford ¤21 (£18) for ravioli or ¤27 for filet d'agneau. Executive chef Bart Van Wijmelbeke is popular in Antwerp but expect to pay ¤50 to ¤60 (£43-£51) per head for three courses without wine.
WiFi is free. DVD players are available on request and there is a free DVD library in the lobby. The hotel also has a rooftop spa with free steam bath, sauna, and relaxation area.
Children are welcome. There is wheelchair access to all floors.
Double rooms from €¤139 (£119.50). Breakfast is an extra €¤16.50 per head.
Hotel Les Nuits, Lange Gasthuisstraat 12, 2000 Antwerp, Belgium (00 32 03 225 02 04; hotellesnuits.be).
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