My weekend get-aways have become more and more frequent over the last few months, with travel being so accessible to places within Europe, I just can’t find a reason to stay put in London right now. I have this constant desire to travel and explore! (So that’s exactly what I am doing).
Having only ever visited Amsterdam previously, getting to know other parts of the Netherlands this month was a new experience. Rotterdam is a major port city in the Netherlands and the second- largest metropolitan city in Holland. It is a city of weird and amazing skylines. It has wonky glass skyscrapers, futuristic architecture, art, and small yellow cube houses (that look like everything in your house would fall over), this genuinely confused me for the best part of 24 hours! My travel buddy, who you all know from my break in Italy (Georgie) found this utterly hilarious, and chose not to explain it to me, but to let me try and fathom it myself, causing her never ending fits of giggles the whole weekend. (At least I am entertaining right).
I’ve been looking for places that would make a brilliant weekend away from London without spending too long travelling, and Rotterdam is definitely one. It is one of Europe’s most exhilarating cities right now, and only 45 minutes – 1 hour by train from Amsterdam.
Between coffee, weird buildings, spotting art, shopping in concept stores and whizzing around on hire bikes, there’s lots to do and it’s super relaxed. There were so many good places to eat and drink, the bars and restaurants were overflowing on both the canals and the streets, which was so enjoyable to be a part of.
I stayed in citizenM Rotterdam. The hotel is pretty epic! If you have not heard of citizenM, then you really are missing out on a lot of FUN! The citizenM hotels centre around a social open-plan (almost living room like) floor with a bar, lots of lounging areas with awesome and racy (which I love) décor, they even have spaces to work. I am pretty confident it’s ideal for anyone and everyone.From the moment that I walked inside, I was greeted by “Your Shoes Look Nice” door mat, (it’s the little things hey). I walked up the spiral staircase to the 1 st floor where you find the check in area, however this is not a typical counter with a receptionist. Check in and out is by yourself, through a computer. After entering my surname, my data appeared and I then chose the room I wanted to stay in, the floor I wanted to be on and the view… then I could grab a door pass from the pile and put it on the scanner, and hey presto, my data was then linked to the pass and the receipt came out. Long live technology! Just as a side note, there are “citizens” around to help you, and they’re the most friendliest of people.
The rooms are not the biggest you’ll have seen but so cleverly designed with large bathrooms, a floor to ceiling window next to the hugely luxurious and possibly the most comfortable XL king size bed I’ve ever slept in. An iPad in each room controls the TV, with lots of free movies, temperature, wake up alarms, themes and the blinds/curtains, however the best part is the lighting, you can set your “mood” lighting using a pantone wheel of colours! I had so much fun with this, I was changing the colour in the room every 5 seconds.
The bathroom had a heavy rain shower (which of course I made the lighting in pink for). The toiletries provided (aside from the huge soft fluffy white towels) are two big pump bottles within the shower of their own shampoo/ shower gel, in two scents designed for morning and night and dependant on the type of traveller you are. That’s right the
shower bottles have little quotes on to help you decide what to use. In fact, all over the hotel there are fun sayings and play on word quotes suited to the location which really make it feel like nothing I had ever experienced in a hotel before.
There’s a super cool and creative vibe to the hotel that’s very reflective of the area in Rotterdam, it feels buzzy but chilled. If you don’t want to be in your room (of rainbow coloured lights if you’re with me), you can always head down to the living room, it is so cosy and is equipped for every occasion.
You’ll feel quickly at home with citizenM. You can literally do anything, you can sit near the fireplace with a good book chosen from their vast collection or a cocktail made from the nicest bar tenders.
In terms of exploring, we wandered down one of the main streets popping in and out of vintage stores, and various shops boasting of an eclectic mix of ethnic treasures. The concept stores in Rotterdam are super cool too, I love finding new fashion brands in other cities! For lunch we stopped at the delicious Bazar, a North African/Middle Eastern restaurant with incredible sharing plates (think hummus, falafel and fresh Turkish breads) and a wonderful, vibrant atmosphere, perfect for whiling hours away and people watching.
We also visited the notorious Dr Rotterdam, an incredible speakeasy underground bar all themed around traditional prescriptions and remedies with their cocktails (potions), being served by Doctors (bartenders). Be sure to “make an appointment”.
I’m already planning another visit soon, so I can explore even more. And I suggest you do the same!
Rotterdam is brilliant and travelling is magical. And as someone once said, “I’d rather have a passport full of stamps than a house full of stuff”.