Antwerp has never received the recognition it deserves. Home to the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, ModeNatie and, of course, the Antwerp Six, Flanders’ capital of cool has long flown under the radar as a destination city.

That may well change with the opening of Hotel Pilar, which presents itself as a concept more than a hotel. Set amongst the scenic squares of Het Zuid, the historic 17-room corner building was transformed by the hotel’s owners, interior architect Sam Peeters and hotel manager Christophe Ysewyn, who, together with Peeters’ firm, Contekst Interior Architects, extensively renovated the three-storey structure. 

The result is a series of light-filled, high-ceilinged rooms outfitted with bespoke artwork, design objects and colourful bedspreads and cushions – the latter created by the owners. Smitten guests may purchase these, as well as the hotel’s ceramic tableware and custom furniture by Contekst, directly off the walls or from the in-house boutique, ensuring that the hotel has a consistently evolving aesthetic and identity, and giving substance to the owners’ oft-repeated mantra that Pilar is a ‘home away from home’.

Guests – and locals – seeking more immediate gratification will find the answer in the Pilar’s ground floor Foodbar. Between hearty breakfasts, a seasonal lunch and dinner menu, and coffee from Antwerp-based roasting house Caffenation, all tastes are catered for – impressive, in a city of tastemakers.