A gem of a hotel in a top diamond destination

An Antwerp hotel that offers discreet, personal luxury

Even though it’s one of the world’s top diamond destinations, I’d never been to Antwerp, so I decided to take the opportunity recently to visit jeweller and titanium wizard Francis Mertens in his home town. This was bliss: Antwerp, easily reachable by Eurostar, is a little old city with great style and character, low-key and comfortable in its own skin.

And completely unexpectedly I discovered a true gem, not a diamond, but one of the most exquisite hotels I’ve stayed in. Hidden behind a white front door – you have to ring the bell to get in – De Witte Lelie is converted from three 17th-century stepped-gable townhouses, balancing its great age with stunning modernist interiors and classic designer furniture. Warm, rich and inviting, it has no trace of dehumanising minimalism that I loathe: in the original black and white tiled entrance there’s a huge blue Edra sofa and an Andrée Putman black desk, while the breakfast room, furnished completely with Saarinen designs, looks into an open-plan traditional kitchen where your breakfast is lovingly prepared.

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There are 11 rooms in all, duplex rooms with loft conversions and spiral staircases, as well as suites. This is discreet luxury, offering impeccable service, quiet and personal, a home from home… if only.

Rooms from €195-€345.

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