Ten year ago the historic building from 1954 where our hotel resides was declared a national monument. Part of the heritage of rebuilding the city after its destruction in the second world war. Most people know that the building was built for the social democratic newspaper Het Vrije Volk (“the free people’’), but it’s history goes way back and includes the dark period of May 1940 when most of the Rotterdam City centre was destroyed.
In 1907 a Rotterdam based workers cooperative managed to open a graceful building designed by the famous Dutch architect H.P. Berlage. Famous works of him include “Beurs van Berlage” in Amsterdam, and his last design: the Art Museum in The Hague.
The socialist movement decided to start their own newspaper. In order to do this the building was extended in 1926 and in 1930 with not so good looking, but functional adequate extensions. Reinforced concrete and hundreds of piles were used to make sure that the heavy rotary press could work without causing shock waves in the building.
When om May 14, 1940 bombs fell on the city, hundreds of citizens found refugee in the newspaper cellars in this extension. This proved the right choice when all older buildings including the beautiful facade of the newspaper building collapsed, but the new construction stayed un-damaged.
After the liberation in May 1945 the newspaper resumed it’s work, and the current building was constructed around the remains of the old building. Only partly a choice as the production of the newspaper had to continue, during the construction of the new building that is now hosting guests in this proud national monument. Opened in 2019 as The Slaak Rotterdam, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel.