WITH bizarre architecture, eclectic food and some of Europe’s best-kept cultural secrets, Rotterdam has come a long way in the past few decades.
The old Dutch port city was demolished by the Nazis in World War Two but has since been resurrected.
Now it serves as a trendy destination for culture vultures — crammed full of art and world-class grub.
I set up base at the new Motto by Hilton Rotterdam Blaak which prides itself on locally influenced design and authentic experiences.
The slick hotel, formerly a bank, boasts modern touches.
Each room can be accessed by a digital key kept on your smartphone.
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But the most convenient aspect was its prime location in trendy Meent near the city centre.
The hotel is less than a ten- minute walk from the Cube Houses — some of the city’s most standout architecture — and the Old Harbour with the Erasmus Bridge in view.
An abundance of outdoor bars overlook the Maas River.
Grab some traditional Dutch bitterballen with your drink — these deep-fried croquettes, made from stewed meat and served with mustard, are the perfect bar snack.
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For dinner we opted for the Hilton’s Pesca, which is more than just your average hotel restaurant.
The Theatre of Fish, as it is known, is set up like a market stall where diners buy portions by weight and can try the day’s catch.
Your waiter at Pesca will walk you through each offering, how it will be cooked and served, and which wine to pair it with.
If fish doesn’t take your fancy then head to the nearby, futuristic-looking Markthal.
This giant food hall is packed with vendors selling grub from around the world as well as traditional local fare.
Then there’s the vibrant Botanero round the corner, a Latin American bar and restaurant.
Expect great cocktails and South American-style dishes with a Rotterdam twist.
The Paloma and Margarita stood out on the cocktail menu, while the slow-braised beef tacos were a favourite on the food side.
Floating dairy farm
When your belly’s full, you can rely on Rotterdam’s fast underground to get you around the city, although if you’re looking to make an experience of it then the water taxi is certainly something to try.
You will get to view exceptional architecture as you bob across the water, as well as a chance to stop by the famous Floating Farm.
It is the first floating dairy farm in the world, located in the harbour, which produces fresh products from 40 cows who live there.
It’s worth dipping your toes into the culture while you are here too and the Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen is a top choice.
The Depot, as it is known, calls itself the “world’s first publicly accessible art storage facility”.
It is essentially a collection of hundreds or artworks, although it refuses to call itself a museum.
The building has been designed to look like a large metal sugar bowl and the exterior reflects the city’s skyline — a mirror image of Rotterdam.
A trip to Holland would not be complete without a cycle ride and you can rent a bike from the hotel.
An art tour on two wheels is a great way to spend an afternoon.
Some of the city’s best public artworks can be viewed on a leisurely ride and you will get to see modernist architecture, innovative designs and cool street art.
That’s the beauty of this city. It’s a work of art in itself.
GETTING THERE: BA flies London to Rotterdam from £60 each way.
STAYING THERE: The Motto by Hilton Rotterdam Blaak has king rooms from £86 per night.
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