Rotterdam is the Netherlands’ second largest city and among Europe’s most innovative. With futuristic architecture, a booming arts scene and world-class museums and galleries, there’s little not to love about this so-called ‘Gateway to the World’. We teamed up with Rotterdam local and entrepreneur Tjeerd Hendriks to discover how best to spend 24 hours in the city.
Co-founder of Rotterdam-based concept store GROOS, Tjeerd is a connoisseur of all things art, design, music, literature, film and lifestyle. Naturally, he ranks The Beautiful South’s ‘Rotterdam’ as the best song he’s ever listened to. As the Zwijndrecht-born entrepreneur spends a couple of nights in our hotel, he unveils the city so close to his heart and why it should be close to yours too.
1.wake up at citizenM
8:10: Alarm. Snooze.
8:20: Alarm. Snooze.
8:30: Alarm. Snooze.
8:40: Alarm. Snooze.
8:50: Alarm. Snooze.
9:00: Alarm. OFF. These beds are made for sleeping so that’s exactly what I’ll do, besides it’s my day off.
10:30: I wake up in citizenM hotel peaceful, well-rested and content – the mattress is great. With this sleep, I’ll surely earn a Nobel Peace Prize. I step in the shower and enjoy the warm rain before getting dressed.
2.10:50AM coffee at canteenM
10:50: I get a fresh coffee to-go at the canteenM bar and make chat with the staff before heading out.
Open 24/7, canteenM is a go to for flaky pastries and barista-brewed coffee at breakfast, as well as more substantial fare later on in the day. There’s sushi, sandwiches and hunger-busting hot dishes. It serves as a bar too, for whenever you fancy an expertly shaken cocktail or a chilled beer. canteenM the social heart of our hotel and has all the homely vibes of your own living room – albeit perhaps a bit cooler. The super-fast wifi is free, as are the best things in life.
3.breakfast at Lilith
11:00: I enjoy eggs royale at Lilith and more coffee.
This all-day breakfast bar on Mauritsstraat is a go-to for local speciality coffee, hearty grub and free wifi. Cosy up in its vintage-style living room while tucking into everything from super-thick, fluffy American pancakes and eggs benny to lighter, more virtuous fare. Vegans are well catered for too. Fancy a coconut milk matcha latte with your acai smoothie? Lilith has you covered.
11:45: Fuelled up for a walk through the city, I visit some of my favorite shops to see what’s new in store and talk with the owners. Indie stores are best because the owners truly love both the products on display and their customers. Nen Xavier and C. Cruden are the best for clothing. I head to WOEI, Vico and Goliath Boutique for shoes while Velvet Music and Clone are good for record hunting. Visiting these shops will take you through the whole city. Of course, I check in at my own concept store, Groos, to see how things are going today.
5.hotdog at Hans Worst
14:00: I grab Europe’s best hotdog at Hans Worst, a Rotterdam’s legendary hot dog stand on the Coolsingel.
So called sausage king – or worstenkoning – Hans Bode is something of a Dutch legend. On the famous Koopgoot, his hotdogs have been named the best in Rotterdam. The meat is 100% percent organic pork or beef. Top with sauerkraut, salad, bacon or Hans Worst’s secret-recipe sauces.
6.wander through Witte de Withstraat
16:00: I head out to Witte de Withstraat for a cold drink but end up peaking in its iconic artspaces such as TENT Rotterdam, V2 and Mama.
Witte de Withstraat is Rotterdam’s hub of art and innovation. Along the street you’ll find cool pubs, quirky boutiques and eclectic galleries with an ever-changing line-up of exhibitions. Head here if you want to escape Rotterdam’s busier shopping areas.
7.gin and tonics at Ballroom
17:00: Finally I pull up a seat at Ballroom. I enjoy the sun and people watching while the friendly staff pour me a Bobby’s gin and tonic. Just one – I’ve earned it! Okay, maybe two, after I ran into a friend.
This cafe-cum-restaurant on Witte de Withstraat is a favourite among locals. A cracking G&T is guaranteed here with over 50 premium gins on offer and speciality tonic waters. Don’t miss the tapas-style menu too – the perfect accompaniment to a tipple on the patio in summer. It’s meatballs are a must-try.
8.Sjatzi for caviar
18:00: It’s time to move on. I drop in to Sjatzi, a former stripclub near the old Veerhaven harbour, to say hi to some friends. Can’t resist a small bite; I order the blinis with caviar.
Venture into Rotterdam’s red light district where Sjatzi serves up everything from Bavik beer, Russian vodka and Dutch jenevers (gin) to coffee and caviar.
9.dinner at Ayla
19:00: It’s time for dinner and I’m in the mood for good food. I head to Ayla at Kruisplein. Getting there is actually one long, straight walk from Sjatzi, which takes me past De Beeldenroute, a sculpture trail.
Open from early morning to late at night, Ayla serves homemade comfort food with a Mediterranean twist. Think oysters with pomegranate and grapefruit or chicken with pumpkin chutney. Just a minute’s walk from Rotterdam’s Central Station, expect welcoming staff and unforgettable cocktails.
how to get there
10.Drinks at Biergarten
21:00 I meet some more friends at Biergarten, an open-air bar beside the Central Station.
Biergarten gives weight to that old adage that simple things are often life’s best. Beer, barbecue, good music, better people and great weather – hopefully. A true urban oasis and the perfect place to start your night out in Rotterdam. Don’t miss its programme of live music and comedy.
11.dancing at Bar
23:00 After sundown, we dance the night away at BAR. No matter what themed night it is, the music is always good.
Until 2011 when it set up shop near Central Station, BAR was Rotterdam’s first – and only – travelling venue, reinjecting the life into once-forgotten areas of the city. Today it hosts concerts, parties and theatre performances among its roll-call of FOMO-inducing events. Head to the bar for great coffee and American-style street food.
01:00 I’m (secretly) looking forward to collapsing into the world’s most comfy bed, but when I get back to citizenM, I can’t resist a cup of tea at the 24hr canteenM bar before heading up to my room with views over the harbour. Goodnight!