The hotel bar is typically its most eye-catching feature and the place where people come together. Whether it’s the tourist who’d rather not have to venture out for that evening drink, the business traveller who finds a spot that feels like home in a faraway city, or the locals who flock to it as a place where service has never gone out of style.
Words: Dijlan van Vlimmeren
At NY Basement, the red carpet is always out. In the basement of Hotel New York, it’s immediately apparent why Rotterdam has earned the nickname ‘Manhattan on the Maas’. NY Basement exudes the classy atmosphere of a 1920’s American jazz club. With a Paloma that outclasses most – The Bitter Truth Pimento Dram is the secret to this herb-infused cocktail – and an order of smoked beef balls garnished with a beetroot/vadouvan mustard, this extravagant bar is a great place to kill time, even on the days when there’s no live music.
A little further up the Wilhelminapier, the cocktail bar on the seventh floor of the nhow Rotterdam offers an enchanting panoramic view of the city. The city’s most recognisable bridge, the Erasmusbrug, looks close enough that you could almost touch it. A visit to this cocktail bar is, at the very least, an Instagram-worthy experience. The signature cocktail – made of rum, strawberries, vanilla and mint – comes highly recommended, as does the savoury snack platter. You’ll learn an interesting fact when heading up to bed in the lift, too: The average time that a person takes to fall asleep is seven minutes.
There’s another fantastic view to be had from the deck of the SS Rotterdam, the former Holland-America Line flagship. In the Captain’s Lounge, a pianist will play your favourite song while you sip your G & T. And if you’re in the mood for stimulating conversation, you and your partner (in love or business) can venture to The Ocean Bar aboard this floating hotel.
Mainport Rotterdam, one of three five-star hotels in the city, lies on the north bank of the river. From the dock where the Watertaxis moor, it’s only five short steps to Mainport Rotterdam’s luxurious cocktail bar, Down Under. The Tutti-frutti – a mix of orange liqueur, strawberry syrup, freshly juiced mango and vodka – is a tropical treat to kick start your evening. The piña colada is a best seller, not in least thanks to its scoop of coconut ice cream. This up-to-the-minute bar also boasts a level of service you’ll find nowhere else. Hilton Rotterdam, another five-star hotel, even shares a roof with its own high-end club the hip lounge and cocktail bar HUGH. Room Mate Bruno has the covered stalls of the Foodhallen in its own backyard – a place where you’ll find so many appealing options, you may need to extend your stay by a few nights.
The boutique design hotel The Slaak Rotterdam, previously a newspaper press room, will be opening its doors just as this magazine goes to print. With Didot34, The Slaak Rotterdam, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel (as it’s properly called) promises a fancy cocktail bar where the borders between co-working, breakfast, lunch, drinks and dinner are consciously blurred.
One of the oldest hotels in Rotterdam, the Savoy Hotel on the Hoogstraat, has recently undergone a complete metamorphosis. The theme of the renovation was ‘post-war reconstruction’. The city’s eventful history is echoed in the new, retro interior. After all, Rotterdam is no illusion, no mere camera trick, as the quote from the “night mayor” Jules Deelder – printed in white on the entrance door – says. Rotterdam can’t be captured on film; it’s far too genuine. The Savoy Hotel’s bar is a must-see. Push open the door and you’ll find yourself as good as perched on a bar stool already.
In the warm suite hotel Pincoffs on the Stieltjesstraat, the hearth of the fireplace is a welcome roost in the winter; while in the summer, the quayside terrace is the place to be. In the Bilderberg Parkhotel on the Westersingel, the stylish Lobby Bar is the perfect spot to enjoy a morning coffee, after-work drink or pre-dinner cocktail. Cigar aficionados can blow off steam – or smoke, in this case – in the cigar lounge. Personal attention is a top priority in this hotel. The ideal hang-out for those who are a bit less flush is The Student Hotel on the Willem Ruyslaan. Rotterdam Marriott Hotel, citizenM, NH Atlanta, Worldhotel Wings at the airport: the list of hotels – and therefore the list of hotel bars – is virtually infinite. What all these hotel bars have in common, however, is that they are clean, employ elegant waitstaff and offer a relaxed atmosphere. And don’t worry, you are welcome to chill at almost every hotel bar without having booked a stay in the hotel.