August, Antwerp: Hotel Review
In a snapshot
Set within a former Augustinian cloister in Antwerp’s luxury Green Quarter, August is the sister property of Hotel Julien. Owned by Mouche Van Hool and her husband, the shipping and business lawyer Laurent de Scheemaecker, August’s plain, minimal aesthetic pays homage to the building’s heritage, while exuding an understated elegance in keeping with this vibrant, underrated city.
Tell us about the atmosphere and location
August sits just inside the car–free Green Quarter, a onetime military hospital complex that was used to care for Belgian soldiers during the 19th century. Today its covered walkways and quiet paths offer sanctuary from the busier streets of the city centre for both local residents and guests. The same air of serenity can be found inside August too, a nod to its religious past. Even the bar, once a chapel for the resident nuns, exudes a calm vibe, thanks to its towering windows and bright white walls. Its beautifully designed, secluded gardens provide respite on a warm day, the ideal space for morning coffee or one of the bar staff’s superbly crafted cocktails in the afternoon.
What’s the latest?
Work on August began in 2014, shortly after Van Hool began searching for a new property to build on the success of Hotel Julien in downtown Antwerp. It required extensive renovation, yet due to its protected status it was imperative that the original features of the former cloister were respected and retained. This job fell to Vincent Van Duysen, arguably Belgium’s most famous architect, with the hotel opening its doors in early 2019. August is his first hotel project. Van Duysen has a love of simple, spare design that can be seen throughout, whether it’s in the darkened confines of the restaurant, which stretches along the corridor beside the former chapel, or the monastic style rooms. In September 2019, August won the prestigious public vote for Het Schoonste Gebouw, the cleanest building in Antwerp, a biennial award for heritage buildings in the city.
What can you expect to find at the hotel?
August’s facilities reflect the understated luxury of the wider Green Quarter. The Jane, the two star Michelin restaurant just a few minutes away by foot, is a key inspiration. Its chef, Nick Bril, has curated the menu for the in–house restaurant, with a focus on local, seasonal ingredients. Some of these are grown on the roof of PAKT, a former industrial site next to August that is pioneering a new rooftop city farm concept.
The light and airy bar is open until midnight, serving a full bar menu and specially curated cocktails. The Cocktail Maison, made with rhubarb cider, is a must.
The 44 rooms stay true to Van Duysen’s guiding design principles, with whitewashed walls and linen, marble tables and simple bathrooms. High ceilings and ample light, plus excellent amenities including 70 TV channels, a Bluetooth speaker and extremely comfortable beds, help balance the purposefully austere look. Rooms start at €219 per night.
The spa offers sauna, hammam, ice scrubs and even a reed filtered outdoor swimming pond. Bamford products are available, with private wellness sessions giving guests exclusive access to all the facilities. Prices start at €70 for one person per hour.
In room iPads offer make it easy to book treatments and arrange dinner reservations, with desk staff attentive and amenable. The free Wi–Fi is powerful and makes working in your room or in the bar pleasingly straightforward.
What type of trip and traveller should stay here?
August is ideal for travellers who love refined style, low key service and exploring first class culture and history. The hotel is a short walk from the stunning Art Nouveaux houses of Zurenborg, with the Cathedral of Our Lady, the Plantin Moretus Museum and Red Star Line Museum just a short ride away on Antwerp’s excellent and reliable tram service.
On the QT
Nearby PAKT, with its rooftop farm and creative businesses, is ripe for exploration. Caffenation serves the best coffee in the city, roasting its beans on site. It’s the ideal spot for a pick me up before heading into town.
Just across from August’s main entrance is its shop. As well as serving simple lunches and coffee, it also stocks homeware, skincare and books used at the property, allowing you to take some of its enduring style home with you.