Stay Here: A Former Belgian Convent Is Now a Minimalist Haven

The city of Antwerp in Belgium is a town of two cultural contrasts. There are medieval cathedrals and museums filled with baroque painters, as well as residents who are trendsetters in the world of modern art and fashion. In fact, you'll find that these opposing worlds now meld together in cafe-filled cobblestone laneways that represent both the rich history and youthful future of the city. An incredible example of the way Belgians are reimagining previously sacred spaces is August, a boutique hotel that is housed in a former Augustinian convent. With the expertise of legendary local architect Vincent Van Duysen, this iconic landmark has been restored into a minimalist design haven.

When we discovered that Van Duysen was responsible for the architecture and interior design of the recent redevelopment we had no doubt that the end result would be something we had never seen before. Having cemented himself as one of Europe (and the world's) most influential designers, he boasts a huge catalogue of Parisian apartments and high-end furniture collaborations that permeate his signature pared-back, modernist style. August, however, marks his first undertaking as a hotel designer, and we can safely say that it's somewhere that we're dying to visit on our next European getaway. 

Made up of five separate buildings, the rich past of the site was taken into account when forming the hotel. Original tiled floors were meticulously restored to their former glory, and hand-glazed mosaics were favoured to elevate this historic destination and provide it with a brand new purpose for a new generation of global travellers to experience. Throughout, recurring black and white elements are the architect's way of signalling a contrast of old and new and encourage you to take a closer look at the iconic Belgian architecture that this boutique hotel is lucky enough to be surrounded by.

Inside the forty-four rooms and suites on offer at August, there are more signs of thoughtful design decisions, like the custom made lighting and handwoven carpets that add a tactile and luxurious element. Built-in timber panel joinery throughout the rooms is painted in a soft olive colour that further accentuates a feeling of relaxation and rest. The addition of warm timber elements and creamy bed linens make for the ideal spot to rejuvenate your mind and body for the night. Within the medieval-meets-modern compound, a breathtaking chapel has been converted into a sophisticated bar where abundant arched windows flood the space with natural light and provide a view to the beautifully manicured gardens. The hotel's restaurant is the perfect place to grab a bite afterwards, with a curated and seasonal menu on offer from local chef Nick Bril. For a bit of self-care, a dedicated wellness centre means you don't have to travel far for specialised massage treatments, innovative rituals and an outdoor swimming pond. Don't forget to swing by August's general store where a beautiful selection of homewares, skincare and books will give you a physical memento of your stay.

Images courtesy of August Hotel. Photography by Robert Rieger.

For more hotel inspiration, check out this Spanish retreat that's full of rustic charm.

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