In Antwerp, the people behind renowned boutique hotel ‘Hotel Julien’ have launched a new hospitality project: August. On the recently developed Military Hospital site, a former Augustinian convent has been converted into a modern-day sanctuary for both Antwerp residents and foreign visitors to enjoy. August re-envisions its historical central function with an open restaurant and a bar, a bespoke hotel with dedicated wellness area, an open air swimming pool and secluded gardens. August consists of 5 different buildings, seamlessly blended together under the guidance of renowned Belgian architect Vincent Van Duysen in his first-ever hotel project. The restaurant and bar are curated and managed by star chef Nick Bril.
Created with a deep respect for its heritage, August is a modern-day sanctuary, echoing the sacred soul of historical Belgian architecture whilst intertwining a contemporary modernism. Situated in a luscious green corner of the former Military Hospital site in Antwerp, it embodies the character of the area at its finest.
The secluded gardens by Wirtz International Landscape Architects connect the different functions of the charming property while offering guests some much needed tranquillity in the city.
The August staff wear clothes that have been designed by Belgian fashion designer Christian Wijnants who perfectly translated his contemporary vision to timeless and elegant uniforms with a nod to earlier times.
ARCHITECTURE & INTERIOR
The neoclassical monument of the former Military Hospital of Antwerp served to care for wounded soldiers for most of the previous century. The beautiful conglomerate of neo-classical buildings have since been restored and redeveloped into an urban residential oasis. The different types of buildings of the Military Hospital convent were home for those who cared for the soldiers, an understated home for the nuns to withdraw from the hectic task of taking care of the wounded and ill.
Architecture & Interior
The strategy of Vincent Van Duysen Architects to turn this hidden gem and its gardens into August was to respect the historical DNA of the site and its surroundings, and to align it with the principles that are used for the general redevelopment of the other historical listed buildings – a careful restoration of its architectural neoclassical splendour in collaboration with Callebaut Architects and the addition of black metal contemporary architectural elements to upgrade to the new function and modern hospitality life.
At August the eclectic creativity of the Flemish building styles throughout the centuries meets an understated soulful modernism, creating a perfect blend of both public and private space. August is a place to feel calm, comfortable and at home.
The interior is designed as a warm and timeless tribute to the dedicated convent lifestyle. The intricate designs of the original tile floors were restored and placed back in new-found glory. Large-scaled windows allow for an abundance of natural light, which stands in great contrast with the closed character of its former function. Almost everything you see in August’s interior was custom designed by Van Duysen, in collaboration with Molteni, Flos and Serax, among others.
In the interior colours refer to elements of the existing with its soft green wood, dark smoked oak or black and white to emphasise the contrast between the contemporary (black) and the classic (white). The carefully restored mouldings and doors and hand painted tiles together with the white marble in the chapel are undisputedly the protagonists of the classic interiors where the black elements refer to the new – a contrast that carefully brings contemporary life to this project.
August is a place where you feel calm and at home without neglecting the fact that you are in a place that was sacred. We have fully considered the past as being a beautiful gift to keep and reinterpret what we have in a modern way. August strokes all the senses with the richness of its textures and objects that are in delicate harmony with its sacred soul. – Vincent Van Duysen
BAR & RESTAURANT
August bar and restaurant are run by well-known chef Nick Bril of neighbouring 2 Michelin-star restaurant The Jane. Nick has challenged himself to go beyond his signature style and has thought out an internationally inspired à la carte menu focusing on produce, season and terroir. From breakfast until dinner, both hotel guests and local residents will find accessible yet creative dishes on the seasonal menu. Nick and his sous-chef Pieter Starmans define the cuisine at August as modern brasserie cuisine. The kitchen team uses fresh and local ingredients, some of which they grow on the roof of PAKT, the adjacent repurposed industrial site housing a melting pot of creative businesses in renovated warehouses, with an ambitious rooftop city farming project. Guests can enjoy a refined meal under the black steel and glass roof of the winter garden or in the wonderful gardens under the covered heated terrace.
August bar serves a perfect mixture of elegant drinks and savoury bar food, that can be enjoyed in the high-ceilinged chapel.
Food and drinks will be served in specially designed August tableware. The ‘Passe-partout’ collection is designed by Vincent Van Duysen for Serax and includes glassware, porcelain tableware, cutlery and wooden objects. The past is reflected in many aspects of this collection. Glasses that are vaguely reminiscent of chalices, and carafes of different sizes that make any bottle on the table superfluous. With the porcelain tableware, countless visual effects can be created by stacking or by playing with the contrasting white and black exterior colours. The cutlery and wooden accessories also follow the blueprint Vincent Van Duysen had in mind for Passe-partout: no-nonsense, a tad nostalgic, while at the same time very contemporary.
August bar is open from 10:00 – 00:00 on Monday – Thursday and Sunday, and from 10:30 – 01:00 on Friday – Saturday. The bar menu is served from Monday till Sunday 12:00 – 23:00.
August restaurant is open from Tuesday to Saturday and can accommodate 55 guests.
Book a table via email@example.com.
Breakfast I Monday – Friday 07:00 – 10:00. Saturday 07:30 – 10:30. Sunday 07:30 – 12:00.
Lunch I from 12:00 – 14:00
Dinner I from 18:30 – 21:30
August wellness is the perfect place to recover from a long day exploring Antwerp or to pamper yourself with a relaxing break. The dedicated wellness area invites guests to warm up in the sauna, hammam or on the hot stone. Cool down again with a fresh ice scrub, in the outdoor shower on the adjacent ‘Cour Anglaise’ or in the outdoor swimming pond. August wellness has a separate entrance and is also open to non-hotel guests.
The August qualified massage therapist offers a wide variety of facial and body treatments as well as innovative rituals, using Bamford products and treatments. Bamford is a label originating from the Cotswolds, known for creating high quality body and skincare products that are natural and artisanal. August is the sole supplier for Bamford products and treatments in Belgium.
August wellness is open from Monday to Sunday, from 08:00 to 20:00. Hotel guests can book before 08:00. Book a treatment via firstname.lastname@example.org.
August on the go. In the heart of the former Military Hospital site, passers-by will bump straight into the August shop. As a part of its public character, August invites locals to enjoy their daily-changing menu. The menu offers fresh juices and soothing coffee, crunchy baguettes, a soup of the day and super fresh salads, to take away or to eat on its small terrace. In collaboration with Domestic, an established bakery and grocery store by Julien and Sophie Burlat.
In addition to its savoury food section, the August shop offers a carefully curated selection of all the best in homeware, skincare, books and more.
August shop is open Tuesday to Saturday, from 08:00 to 16:00.
ROOMS & SUITES
The former convent has 44 rooms and suites, ranging between 16 and 41 square meters. The rooms are a warm homage to the dedicated cloister way of life, with the addition of all modern amenities. The en-suite bathrooms with walk-in shower -and some with stand-alone bathtub- are equipped with Bamford’s toiletries. Due to the original building structure almost no room is alike, each having their intrinsic personal touches, like a centuries-old wooden ceiling, an inviting balcony overlooking the former Military Hospital site, or unspoiled chapel or courtyard garden views.
Guests are welcomed into 9 different room types, ranging from the essential ‘intimate’ rooms, to the abundant ‘suites’ with personal living rooms and the large ‘atelier’ with a desk overlooking the site. Bespoke finishing is to be found in every element; from the hand-glazed bathroom tiles to the tailor-made iconic lighting, from custom-built furniture to the handwoven carpets. Warm and high quality materials welcome guests during their stay.
Prices from 165 euro.
A private guest library and several bookable meeting rooms with facilities, complete the stunning picture. In addition, the garden pavilion with private bar and cozy sitting area can be rented.
Het Groen Kwartier (the Green Quarter) is a pedestrian luxury development on the site of a large 19th-century former military hospital complex. It is located right next to PAKT, an exciting repurposed industrial site housing a melting pot of creative businesses in renovated warehouses, with an ambitious rooftop city farming project. Also nearby is the Zurenborg area with its stunning Art Nouveau and fin de siècle-style mansions, the De Koninck brewery – a family-run business that has been brewing the local “bolleke” beer since 1833 -, and the main ring road. The Jane, a two-star Michelin restaurant, is located in the former hospital chapel at the centre of the complex.
All photos by Robert Rieger