Ranked amongst Lonely Planet’s top cities for 2016, the secret is out, but there’s still a little time to beat the crowds. Mind-boggling buildings, cutting-edge restaurants and edgy bars are popping up faster than Dutch tulips in springtime, so if you can escape the office for a few short hours, you’ll find all kinds of fascinating sights on your doorstep.
Admire the newest urban additions
One glance is enough to realise Rotterdam is a city striding fiercely into the future. From Renzo Piano’s leaning KPN Tower to the swan-like Erasmus Bridge and Piet Blom's iconic cube houses, the architecture is undeniably ‘out there’. New megastructures mushroom every year and the skyline will soon be different, so go now to see the Rotterdam of today. The paint is hardly dry on the cloud-like Timmerhuis, the ‘vertical city; of De Rotterdam, and the gigantic arched Markthal, a food market that morphs grocery shopping into an epic experience.
Book a room with the ultimate view
Whack a serious dose of wow factor into your business trip by staying 100 metres above the River Maas in the dizzying Euromast tower, now home to two luxury suites. Bag the highest and largest balcony in Rotterdam all to yourself; sip champagne in the Jacuzzi looking out over the twinkling skyline; and wake up with the world at your feet. The next morning, you can even abseil down the tower on your way to the office. Or take the lift.
Take a Michelin-starred masterclass
Roll up your shirtsleeves for a ‘Cooking Clinic’ at Restaurant Parkheuven, one of only three restaurants with two Michelin stars in Rotterdam. Learn about the seasonal philosophy of head chef Erik Van Loos, pick up tricks of the trade and snag recipes for signature dishes, including ravioli of black Bresse chicken with pan-fried langoustines. Top it all off with a lunch on the gorgeous terrace overlooking the harbour and get your taste buds dancing all the way back to the office.
See the sights from your own floating 'hot tug'
Sit back in steaming water and sip some bubbles as you drift around the docklands in your very own wood-fired hot tub. Yes, really. Available to rent all year round, it’s a bizarre but brilliant way to take a soak while you soak up the city sights. You’ll sail the Hot Tug yourself, becoming captain of the kooky vessel for two hours while you bob along the River Maas. Fresh-thinking, futuristic and fun, it’s a real Rotterdam experience.
Discover historic Delfshaven
A huge chunk of downtown Rotterdam was reduced to ashes by the Luftwaffe in 1940, creating a blank canvas for cutting-edge architects and designers. However, if you need a quick breather from the neck-cricking skyscrapers, head for historic Delfshaven. This pretty little marina miraculously survived the bombing, making a trip here like a wander back in time. You’ll find a charming jumble of antique shops, small-scale boutiques and gin bars, with canals and windmills to boot.
Give your credit card a bashing at Groos
This creative concept store cuts straight to the heart of Rotterdam. A forgotten Dutch word meaning ‘pride’;, Groos showcases only the work of local talent, from handcrafted jewellery to fashion, interior design and art. Inspiring and completely individual, it’s packed with one-of-a-kind treasures that come with added history and meaning. No wonder the locals are so groos.
Try a spot of inner-city canal surfing
Between April and November, swap board meetings for surfboards at RiF010, a boundary-pushing city initiative aimed to enrich the lives of locals. Set next to the Steigersgracht Canal, it’s an aquatic playground with all kinds of activities up for grabs, including canal surfing, kayaking and scuba diving. Slightly surreal and perfect in the sunshine, it’s a sure-fire way to paddle, snorkel or swim away the stresses of the day.
Book a private tour of Museum Boijmans van Beuningen
Feast your eyes on the works of Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Bosch, Dali and Warhol, all under one roof. Showcasing everything from grand masterpieces to modern art, this museum is a Rotterdam must-see and a private tour will guarantee that you get the most out of your visit. Afterwards, wander around the sculpture garden to puzzle over boundary-pushing pieces in the fresh air.