The Mechelen Hundred

Portraits of a city's people, today

Nestled between Brussels and Antwerp, Mechelen has often been overshadowed by its larger neighbours. Yet teaming up with the City of Mechelen, our line-up of 100 of the city’s most prominent people, places and projects proves the extent of its potential. From artists and creatives to critical thinkers and fighters, these are the powerhouses driving Mechelen forward one step at a time.

Hannelore Verschueren

Hannelore Verschueren

General manager at Hotel Vé (1981)

Can you describe what you do?

I work as the General Manager of hotel Vé on the Vismarkt, which is, in my opinion, the cosiest square in town with plenty of bars and restaurants. The hotel was founded by my family, and I’ve been running it together with my dad, Luc, for 12 years now. We are surrounded by a group of devoted colleagues who all aspire to make this the best hotel in town, with the friendliest service ever! Our motto is: ‘Welcome home… in Mechelen.’ It is my job to make sure that everybody likes working at Vé, so the positive atmosphere among the staff really does show and can help our guests feel more at home.

My daily work routine involves a great variety of tasks and responsibilities. In the evening, after picking up my kids from school, I enjoy spending time with my family and friends.

How do you perceive Mechelen? In your view, what kind of city is it? Its people, its cultural landscape, its vibe? How does it compare to other, similarly-sized cities?

Mechelen has become a lively city and there has bee so much development for the better over the last decade. We’ve evolved from being a dirty and dangerous city to a nice, clean and cosy place where everybody feels welcome.

Mechelen used to be the capital of the Burgundian Netherlands and has a patrimony of more than 300 listed buildings and five Unesco World Heritage sites. Bruges is still the number one tourist destination, but Mechelen has truly become the hidden pearl of Flanders, waiting to be discovered.

The inhabitants of Mechelen are all very diverse and come from different backgrounds. This makes living together a bit of a challenge sometimes, but in the end, it is also immensely rewarding when we can live together in harmony.

What would you say is Mechelen’s main appeal as a city? What gives it its edge?

Living and working in Mechelen is great, because everything is at the tip of your fingers. We have all the advantages of a big city, but the geographical size and the crowd sizes remain manageable. Our central location in Flanders is another big advantage. There are two fairly big industrial zones outside the centre which attract many international businesses. But then there are also lot of green spaces in the city, with a lot of small parks.

And of course, Mechelen officially has the best mayor of the world! Our mayor Bart Somers won the ‘World Mayor Prize’ in 2016.

How has Mechelen contributed to making you who you are today? What role has the city played in shaping your outlook and career?

I truly feel it was my parents who made me who I am today. When I was growing up, I enjoyed an excellent education, and then my parents gave me the chance to run this hotel. I think this was the best gift I have ever received in my life.

I do feel connected to the city, because when I am out and about, I get the feeling that everybody here knows everybody. Living and working here, I’ve learned a lot from many different business partners. This can be an advantage and a useful experience when you’re working in big cities like Brussels or Antwerp.

On a personal level, what would you like to see more of in the city? What could it do better?

I’d like to see the inhabitants of Mechelen become a bit more positive in their outlook. It would be so nice to see more smiling faces every day! Let’s all work together to make Mechelen a beautiful city to live in.

To you, what is the best way to spend a weekend in Mechelen?

Of course I would take them to the St. Rumbold’s Cathedral to show them the skywalk at the top.  From there, you can enjoy a magnificent view of our city, and on a clear day you can sometimes even see the skyline of Antwerp and Brussels.

I would also show them the Dijlepad, where you can go for a stroll ON the water – how cool is that? And I would end our excursion with a shopping spree in the Onze-Lieve-Vrouwestraat to explore its selection of unique fashion boutiques.