Toronto, Sydney, Wellington, Eindhoven, – you’d be forgiven for assuming that the latter city doesn’t belong in such company, but then again, you’d be wrong. What causes me to group these four cities together has nothing to do with size, climate, or geographical location, but rather that all four of these awesome cities share the same hip and cool vibe, mixed perfectly with a dash of style and the arts and finished off with a healthy dollop of creativity and innovation. Eindhoven really does hold its own on the world stage, and is suited perfectly to the type of accolades that come along with other progressive cities around the globe.
When the average person thinks of The Netherlands their mind almost instantly lands on Amsterdam, with a few also perhaps picturing Rotterdam too – at a push. You’ll be hard pressed to find anyone who’s first thoughts of The Netherlands centre around Eindhoven; but all that is surely soon to change!
I was lucky enough to be invited to visit Eindhoven a few weeks ago and upon arriving, I was instantly impressed by the undiscovered beauty that this amazing city has to offer.
Eindhoven oozes creativity and reinvention, with the city that was once a hub for all things Philips now finding its own voice and putting the vast majority of old factory spaces to brilliant use.
Unlike other industrial towns that may have otherwise fell into derelict disrepair, Eindhoven has well and truly risen like a phoenix from the ashes and you only have to take a wander around Strijp S to see what a sprinkle of imagination can do for a place. Pop up stores, boutique cafes out of the back of old factories, giant food halls erected in old warehouses and even the odd hotel built inside an old light tower – Eindhoven really has stayed true to its roots and reused every last piece of space they can get their hands on.
With so much choice in Eindhoven for everything from accommodation to where you’re going to eat dinner that night – it’s easy to see why this awesome city is far from conformative. Perhaps using the term ‘hipster’ is the wrong way of describing the general vibe that the people of Eindhoven give off, but what’s true to say is that folks in this city aren’t afraid to express themselves, in whatever way that might manifest itself. Oh, and another thing – for all you vegans out there, you’re sure to find plenty to eat and drink in Eindhoven, with almost all of the cafes and restaurant I visited having at least one or two completely vegan options on their menu!
When walking through certain sections of Eindhoven, it felt like I was rolling through the set of a Mad Max film, with so much of the industrial feel that Eindhoven was synonymous for throughout the years, still being used to full affect today. The idea of steampunk is not lost on the eye when taking in all that Eindhoven has to offer, with this once bustling industrial town now home to some of the finest eateries and art cafes you’ll find in The Netherlands – and all built with expressionism and through a willingness to keep close ties with the cities humble beginnings.
Art and design are strong pillars in the foundations that make up Eindhoven, with the cities resurgence centring largely on style, elegance, ingenuity, and sleekness.
Whether its immersing yourself in the culinary & sensory mashup that is Kazerne, perusing the magnificent craft and woodwork on display in Strijp R or relaxing and unwinding in Eindhoven’s fantastic Inntel Hotels Art Eindhoven (the artsy clue is in the name) – you’re sure in for a wonderful treat. Needless to say, you will have had your fair share of daily art even before heading to the likes of the Van Abbemuseum – which, if I may say so, is well worth paying a visit!
Given the great uniqueness that surrounds Eindhoven and its regeneration, the architecture within the city is like no other. The inspiration that can be gained from Eindhoven’s buildings is so great that thousands of stylists, designers, and architects flock to the city each year to get a first-hand glimpse at the cities design. From train stations shaped like radio transmitters, to underground bike stalls that look like Metro entrances, to there even being a tunnel named the tunnel of silly walks which was opened by the legendary John Cleese, star of Monty Python.
Places to eat and drink
You’ll never be short of options for food and drink when spending time in Eindhoven – with at least 28 Michelin Star eateries scattered throughout. On my tour of the city I was fortunate enough to dine at both Kazerne and Calypso. The former offers a dining experience with a difference, as you indulge is absolutely sublime food, surrounded by art installations all around you in what looks to be an old warehouse of some sort. Calypso, on the other hand, is a much more intimate affair – but the food is no less exquisite and the throng of rather cool locals will leave you revelling in the ambiance.
In terms of something a little more café-esque, why not check out Piet Hein Eek, situated in the heart of artsy Strijp R and offering some rather divine cakes, cheese spreads and soft drinks, as well as the obligatory good coffee. The settings in which the café is housed aren’t half bad either. If coffee is your thing though and you happen to be nearby the train station, then you’d be a fool not to call by the Coffee Lab and try what is quite simply put – the best coffee in town – lovingly prepared by some of the greatest coffee Barista’s in the whole of Europe. Quite an accolade, I’m sure you’ll agree.
In terms of options for bars, you’ll seriously be spoilt for choice when looking for a place to drink in Eindhoven. To list all the amazing watering holes that you could possibly frequent would lead to a rather exhaustive list, so instead, allow me to wholeheartedly recommend three of my favourite bars. The Secret Garden leaves you feeling like you’ve stepped into another world, with so much going on around you it’s almost like a bit of a sensory overload. New York fire-escape style iron staircases trail off to the ceiling from behind the main bar and it’s simply fascinating just watching members of staff run up and down carrying plates of hot food or retrieving yet another bottle of prized red wine. Usine was another epic bar and was the one that I visited most, given its dangerously close proximity to the hotel where I was staying. It may be my poor judgement when it comes to style, or it might have been the several beers I’d had before entering, but there was something about Usine that reminded me of being in a 1950’s style American Diner, with a French renaissance twist added in there – either way it was very much like stepping back in time, which is probably why I loved it so much!
If you fancy yourself as a bit of beer connoisseur then the Stadbrouwerij (City Brewery) is definitely worth a shout. When I visited the kind folks that work there were awesome enough to allow me to have a couple of testers – and once you’ve tasted finely brewed beers, it does make you wonder why you’ve been wasting your time drinking generic Pilsners for so long. Seriously refreshing and delicious and with Stadbrouwerij being so close to Eindhoven’s longest and busiest bar streets, it’s the perfect place to start off your day/night of drinking (if you’re into that sort of thing!).
Where to stay?
I’ve mentioned already the Inntel Hotel Arts Eindhoven, which is smack bang in the middle of the city and not too far away from the main train station. Inntel Hotel Arts is definitely a spot of luxury, but prices aren’t too astronomical, so you can afford to treat yourself and indulge. Stay tuned on my blog for an upcoming post dedicated entirely to the Arts Hotel – as it’s certainly worth a honourary mention all by itself.
Alternatively, you may wish to check out the incredible Student Hotel which is similarly situated in the heart of the city, just spitting distance from the train station. The tall building dominates the Eindhoven Skyline and you’ll find rooms there to suit every need – from short stay business trips, to long-term stays for students and young professionals. The design of the hotel is extremely modern, with all the popular amenities that you would generally expect to find in a hotel, plus many more – such as a communal kitchen, a fully kitted gym and an auditorium where – if you fancy – you can give a talk to, well… whoever will listen, basically.
What to do?
Generally speaking, Eindhoven is just a wonderful city to look around and soak up the sights – but if you’re looking for something a little more specific, then why not visit one of the cities many awesome museums?
For example, the visiting the Philips Museum in the centre of the city, really helps to give you a better understanding of what Eindhoven is all about and how the city came about to be founded in the first place. Eindhoven itself was built to house all of the employees of Philips and their families, with a real Marxist feel and existence emanating from the city walls – as Eindhoven, in its creation, housed everything Philips Electronics employees could ever want, need or desire – from hospitals, to even a football team, with the grand PSV stadium still standing proud to this day.
Given the modern designs and feel of Eindhoven, it comes as no surprise that you’ll often find excellent accessibility within the city. For an accessible accommodation choice, the aforementioned Student Hotel Eindhoven has some brilliant rooms, with disabled friendly bathrooms that will match the needs and requirements of just about everyone. Unfortunately, the Inntel Hotel Arts doesn’t have a stand-alone ‘accessible’ room, but the suites are very spacious and if you’re able to get around without the aid of your wheelchair, then it’s certainly roomy enough to be deemed as reasonably accessible – I was able to fit my wheelchair into the separated toilet, for example, and if you were travelling with a portable hoist, then there’s stacks of space to squeeze this in there for usage with the bath etc, especially if you opt for one of the hotels beautifully spacious open-plan suites.