Discover Benelux, Issue 34, October2016

Page 18

Discover Benelux | Rotterdam | City Centre Highlights

Experience Rotterdam while floating TEXT: XANDRA BOERSMA | PHOTOS: H2OTEL

Can you imagine sleeping on a small boat? Of course you can. But what about sleeping in a great bed surrounded by a little bit of luxury and a great restaurant? You can, if you stay at H2OTEL: Rotterdam’s floating hotel. There were once ships here that were used by the American army. After the army was done with them, Rotterdam bought them and created a museum. Now, it is a hotel with rooms decorated by local artists. A H2OTEL to be precise, and yes, the pun is intended in the name. It is an interesting concept on the edge of Rotterdam’s city centre. “You’re only a five-

minute walk away from all sorts of shops and restaurants,” sales manager Maxime Haak says. Though you do not really need those restaurants, because H2OTEL has a very good one on board. Hotel and catering manager Jan Willem Jansen tells us: “We don’t have a very extensive menu, but that’s because we want every dish to be homemade and every product fresh. All organic and seasonal.” Summer times of course are good for a floating experience like this one. You can enjoy the large terrace, go for a swim or take one of their small boats out for a picnic. “You actually get someone from the hotel to sail it for you, while you enjoy Rotterdam’s hotspots while having a drink and a bite to eat,” Maxime explains. But what about in the upcoming winter? “No problem! Everything inside is heated, of course. And it makes it all the more cosy to sit beside the water and watch winter take place.”


Does freshly prepared fast food with healthy ingredients sound too good to be true? It is very much a reality at XOCO, a modern grill in Rotterdam serving authentic Mexican street food. “When people say fast-food, they think about greasy food, made from products with an unknown source,” says XOCO’s owner Sietse Hellinga. “XOCO combines a fast-food restaurant with high-quality Mexican dining, serving pure dishes that are freshly prepared every day.” Mexican food aficionados can personally put together their dish from a menu serving a broad range of Latin-American treats. There is everything from burritos to salad bowls and tacos, and from vegetarian to beef and chicken. All products are sourced from local producers, such as the town market for vegetables and a nearby farm for meat. “I like to know exactly where my products come from,” 18 | Issue 34 | October 2016

explains Hellinga. Specialties like Mexican oregano or specific spices are imported from Mexico. So is there no need for a freezer at XOCO? “We own a freezer for ice cubes and for our fresh juices, but that is it. Everything that we have not sold by the end of the day has to be thrown away. But that never happens,” Hellinga laughs. Besides grabbing a bite, XOCO is just as suitable for those wanting a long evening dinner, with an extensive wine list and perfect Mexican ambiance inviting you to stay for as long as you want. Hellinga’s connection with Mexico goes back to the time when he was living in Chicago, when he would frequently escape the cold and travel to nearby Mexico. “It was then that I got in touch with the eating culture over there. People eat outside on the street. It is quick, but above all high quality and healthy. That is exactly what XOCO embodies.”