Yellow Submarine – Antwerp

A decent beer trip to any of Belgium’s fine beer cities needs a good place to lay your head after a long often weary day spent wandering around “sightseeing”.

I’ve tried a few different options over the last few years, one was a B&B based in someones spare room, which wasn’t as bad as it may sound, the room was private and it sort of gave you a feel for Belgian living sharing a house albeit a slightly arty one. Then there was the trusty Ibis and the like, again, reasonable if a little basic. But with all of them so far there was always something niggling away that didn’t suit, even if it was the distance to and from. So this year as it was to be more of a holiday we decided to step it up a gear and look for something of a higher quality and more central.

It was whilst searching for a hotel/B&B in Antwerp that I stumbled across “Yellow Submarine“.

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Two things struck me straight away, the first is obvious, the iconic name. I’m no massive Beatles fan but I’d bet a pint on the fact that you have “that tune” buzzing away at the back of your mind right now, right? (ear worm alert)

Then I saw it was above a coffee shop which stirred (excuse the pun) another thought…COFFEE!!

After seeing it was central to loads of places I wanted to visit the rooms would have had to be pretty darned awful for this to be a no brainer, they weren’t obviously and we hit the booking screen, SOLD.

On arrival sitting in it’s own little square Yellow Submarine is at first tricky to find especially on the old towns narrow one way system, but straight away this is where Elke, our host, came into her own, guiding us in, offloading and providing a human guide to their own bookable private (secure) parking spaces a few minutes walk away.

After a quick welcome coffee over which Elke showed us a few sights to see and beer venues to visit on a map (yes she loves beer, and even met her husband in one of Antwerps finest) she showed us to our room and WOW what a room.

P1020601A huge modern space, superbly equipped, comfortable and very extremely welcoming. The bed was massive and really comfortable, then there was the bath it was HUUUUUUGE!

It’s not just the obvious things though that make this place great, it’s all about the little details too, the iPod Dock, Nespresso Machine and high end quality teas included in the price. The mini bar, wine and the daily change of little chocolate treats that appear as if by magic. Luxurious bedding, dressing gowns and slippers, mood lighting and more, it almost made you feel like going beer shopping and staying in!

P102060232395-1600x1200If I had a criticism about the room at all it’s a very tiny one and maybe even just a British thing, that was the toilet arrangements.

The “throne” sits next to the swimming pool/bath and is only screened off by a wooden roller screen which gives you a little privacy but still leaves you a feeling of being “in the room” and for reasons of taste I’ll go further than that.. ūüėČ That said, there are toilets downstairs if like me you are a little shy about with whom you share shall we say “your ablutions..”

P1020603After a peaceful nights sleep in that comfy bed, there was breakfast. Orange juice freshly squeezed for your table and fresh coffee too. Cheeses ham & salami, artisanal breads, croissants and pastries, eggs, yoghurt, honey, fresh fruit and my wife’s favourite touch, a little glass of frozen berries that literally popped and fizzed in your mouth as you ate them. Superb attentive individual service direct to you too, including them purchasing an english newspaper just for us and delivering it to our table each morning. Marvelous!

IMG_6390On speaking to Elke at breakfast we learned a little more about this cracking little place and the history behind it’s concept. Apparently when her husband was around six years old he fell in love with the Beatles Yellow Submarine story, and since then has wanted to use it somehow in his life. It first became the name of his advertising/design business which sits neatly at the back of the coffee shop below the B&B, behind a glass sliding screen. This then expanded to said coffee shop with the bed and breakfast, born to be added offerings to clients and visitors to the city with the brand theme continuing throughout.

imagesIt’s only then that you begin to notice the other clever design features of the building, some subtle, like the rising bubbles cut into the spiral staircase and the rolling golden waves on the walls, even that wave shaped wooden screen in the bathroom area. Some not so subtle but nonetheless charming, those yellow periscopes rising from the pavement outside. Cute

So lets cut to the chase and talk Pound notes, Dollars and Euros, all this must cost right?

Well, yes it does a little but not as much as you think and in the long run not much at all. I won’t go into individual detail here as things change and I don’t want to give false impressions either way, but lets just say that this cost us about thirty euros per night more than it was to stay “room only” at the Ibis just out if town which is roughly around three-quarters of a mile a mile away.

But when you add the quality, served breakfast, free secure underground parking, the location close to some of Antwerps best bars and all the luxurious trimmings to that equation, suddenly that cheap little hotel room doesn’t seem quite as appealing, at least it doesn’t to me and I’ll definitely be back here on my next Antwerp adventure.Yellow+Submarine

Go on, spoil yourself, altogether now..

“In the toooown, where I was born, lived a man, who sailed to sea…”

Cheers

‘t Waagstuck – Antwerp

P1020613Hidden away in a quiet corner of a leafy square in a historic area of the old town, ‘t Waagstuck or “The Venture” as I’m pretty sure it’s translated is a tricky place to find but is well worth the effort.

On our first visit, ‘t Waagstuck¬†–¬†(English translated website) provided a peaceful respite from the hustle and bustle of the MAS which is Antwerps iconic museum of sport which is also a short walk away.

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A zoomed picture from the top of MAS of Yellow Submarine our B&B. t' Waagstuck is half distance

A zoomed picture from the top of MAS of Yellow Submarine our B&B. t’ Waagstuck is half distance

The MAS itself is well worth a visit if you are in town if only for the wonderful panoramic views of the city and docklands.

The panorama visit is free and takes you on a winding journey round and round the internal structure, past brilliant photographic displays until you reach the roof top glass walled viewing area (it does have escalators up to the 9th floor and stairs to the final level).

Take in the views then wind your way back down to terra firma and set your sights firmly on a beer in the cool courtyard in summer or warm welcoming bar in colder months.

Waagstuck entranceCrossing the tree-lined square and passing the many tables that seem to be shared by all of the bars in the area you enter ‘t Waagstuck through a squared arch (if there is such a thing), which takes you to a cool, open but enclosed courtyard decked out with tables chairs and benches. Here “normal” folk sat reading papers and drinking coffee in the sun, but as we were on a mission to explore Antwerps best bars and this was supposedly one of them we sensibly opted for a pre-noon beer or two.

P1020615Before perusing the menu in-depth which was around 100 beers strong I sensibly set my sights on a bottle of Saison Dupont, a perfect starter beer on a warm summers day methinks and set about soaking up the atmosphere.

This is one of those places that steeped in history, just make you want to sit and ponder all the things that have come and gone over the years and all the folks that have sat here and done the same.

Second beer up was the house special Zeppelin or Zeppelinbier, a rich, dark opulent brew with lashings of chocolate, coffee, dark fruits and molasses, at sprightly 9%abv not exactly summers day drinking but hey, what the hell..

IMG_6392Originally brewed by Proef Brouwerij but now I believe all brewing is done by Brouwerij Van Steenberge who seem to like brewing these exclusive to premises beers, De Garre Triple being another notable example worthy of a mention.

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Belgium revisited

belgian_flagAs anyone following me on twitter or here on Beersay will know, I visit Belgium pretty regularly and as such I often get asked for suggestions and advice on where to visit and stay etc.

Not that I am the font of all knowledge on the subject of course, as most of the information I have is gleaned from experience myself, after taking suggestions from friends, books etc.

I made such a visit a few weeks ago, making two-day stops at Gent and Antwerp both of which were new to me, plus Bruges which is a place I’ve revisited three times to date. Before my trip I set about gathering suggestions as usual for the virgin territory and for anything new on the old ground and thought it may be a good idea to start a bit of a reference section with a links page and hopefully a map for each city I’ve visited and created reviews for.

P1020647This then is basically a bit of a precursor for the above. Over the next few days/weeks/months, I’ll be posting a series of mini/full reviews of places to drink and places to stay, followed by the final reference page for each city or area which can then be added to by me, or as guest review slots. (If you have any you’d like me to include drop me a note in comments or via twitter etc)

Hopefully something useful and more importantly useable will be the end result.

Watch this space

Cheers