If you are ever stuck for a place to go when you want to get away from it all, then please do not overlook The Netherlands. If you are into art, design, shopping, food and short flights then it has to come top of your list from here on in.
Flights from Manchester to Schiphol (Amsterdam) comes in at a speedy fifty minutes. Holland is also tiny, so just because you fly into the capital doesn’t mean you have to stay there. Schiphol has a massive train station which will take you to all the other Dutch cities you may or may not have heard of already- like Utrecht, The Hague, Haarlem and most importantly for the purposes of this article- Eindhoven. But it is important to note that you can now get direct flights from Manchester from just £140.
Eindhoven is in the Southwest of the Netherlands towards the Belgian border. It is a University town with Industry at its very core. It was the home to Phillips electronics since its conception in 1891. As the business grew, so did the city around it and when the company left to move to Amsterdam it left a gaping hole- but it is safe to say that the creatives of Eindhoven did not let them down and instead saw it as an opportunity for growth, for transformation and aesthetic development.
The hotel we stayed in, Intel Hotel Art Eindhoven, was housed in an ex-Philips factory- which not only had massive rooms, enormous beds and art everywhere- but still proudly wore the Phillips sign on its exterior which is such an excellent example of this acknowledgement of the past.
Here are my top 5 places to eat, drink and shop in Eindhoven.
Vielgut is a beautiful fashion and homeware store with a focus on high-end brands, sustainability and organic products. Every brand and product they stock is made without child-labour, by workers in decent working conditions and using natural or recycled materials. Naturally, this comes with an appropriate price tag- but with a broader acknowledgement of the world around us at its very core, it was hard not to jump on the bandwagon and get involved.
Nieuwe Emmasingel 38, 5611 AM Eindhoven, Netherlands
I could have stayed in the inappropriately named ‘Sissy Boy’ all day. Apparently, the name is not a slur, but instead a response to the 1955 film ‘Sissi’. A little lost in translation I’m sure, but that being said the Dutch definitely speak the best English in the whole of Europe- England included. Situated in the bigger of two geometric glass domes in Eindhoven called ‘The Blob’ this store is just what all your clothes, gift and interior dreams are made of. It had an Anthropologie vibe to it with stunning Dutch designed products- Oh, and probably one of the best collections of tropical houseplants I have seen this side of Kew- so always memorable in my books.
Nieuwe Emmasingel 2, 5611 AM Eindhoven, Netherlands
I was obsessed with Urban Shopper- a vast complex full of everything from clothes to records to bespoke furniture and antiques all as independent little stores in these beautiful domed stalls. I fell in love with an antique Virgin Mary statue but had to stop myself as I was fully aware I was never going to be able to get it home, so I settled for some insense instead. This shop was in a district of town that was once dubbed ‘The Forbidden City’ and was the hub of Phillips design and innovation. Right now it is a little on the desolate side- but I give it five years, and I reckon it will be a buzzing cultural hub.
Torenallee 02, 5617 BD Eindhoven, Netherlands
Another highlight for a foodie like me was Itelligentia ICE a creative ice cream and patisserie shop which will make you forget all about Italian Gelato. This stuff was like chilled mousse- light as a feather, ice cold. The chiller was full to the brim of the most fantastic flavours like chocolate olive oil (which was black as midnight), Strawberry and Lavender and even Cigar which tasted less like a Grandad as expected and more an aromatic, herby delight. This spot is a must visit.
Leidingstraat 43, 5617 AJ Eindhoven, Netherlands
While we are on food, it is difficult to eat poorly in Eindhoven. The evening saw us at De Kazerne which was a refreshingly cool concept which saw a modern art gallery, bar and restaurant in one space. The food was terrific there- I have never had burrata that creamy in my life. This was an entirely new way of dining for me and it is a perfect example of how Eindhoven has art and design at its very core. The owner gave us a quick whip-round of the space too and told us that she plans to add some hotel rooms in the next year- which I cannot wait to stay at when I come back.
Paradijslaan 2-8, 5611 KN Eindhoven, Netherlands
I think what struck me the most about Eindhoven was its love of design, art and beauty. The marriage of old, new and industrial was effortless, and everywhere you turned there was beautiful local products, designs and architecture. Do not expect anything like Amsterdam from any of these two cities- they are post-modern metropolises which are stacked head to toe with beautiful things that belong in an Art Gallery or cutting edge design studio.