Every now and then, a new gem of a café opens in a spot so ancient that you thought it was the kind of place you’d still be having a drink with your grandchildren years from now. Fortunately, time never stands still in Rotterdam and old cafés are replaced with new ones all the time. A café that used to be called De Oude Binnenweg, located in (wait for it) Oude Binnenweg, has had a complete makeover. It’s now home to a new cocktail bar with a new name: The Rumah.

Owners Daryl and Eddie renovated the place themselves – with no DIY experience, or so they claim. Photographer Amber and I are encouraged by their success (we wouldn’t be able to punch our way out of a paper bag ourselves if we tried). Photos of the renovation can be seen in the back of the café. The place has come a long way since those messy days. The Rumah opened its doors in late December but wasn’t officially opened until early February.

rumah kroegrecensie foto Amber Leijen (5)
On the right you’ll see the Pretty Pretty. The cocktail on the left is a special. Image credit: Amber Leijen

The drinks menu is basic and unpretentious: beer, wine and a few types of cocktails. The gents will pour you a cocktail of your own choice if you ask them to, but we opt for one of the so-called ‘Rumah’s Signatures’. The ‘Pretty Pretty’ cocktail tastes moreish: fresh and slightly on the sweet side, but with a bite. While we make ourselves comfortable at the bar, we are handed a small bowl of nuts and a glass of water to make sure we stay hydrated.

Amber and I both agree: this is a wonderfully cosy and pleasant bar. There’s nothing left of the café that used to be here. All the bits and pieces were removed, but the old café’s stained glass windows were upcycled and incorporated into the cupboard. Besides a bar you can sit at, there are some small high tables in the back of the pub, with a long bench on which patrons can cosy up to each other. A few people are seated at the bar or on the bench. We listen to the classic hits finding their way from the loudspeakers, while the other patrons talk and laugh in the background. It’s not very big inside, so The Rumah is less suitable to have a drink with your entire team or sports team. But for catching up in intimate company, it is ideal.

The interior is minimalist, but definitely not cold or boring. It actually has a faint Art Nouveau vibe, thanks to the bent metal bars above the bar. The metal arches reach for the ceiling, making the room look a lot larger than it actually is. Apart from a few candles and a framed work of art on the wall, there are few knickknacks, but then again, you don’t need many knickknacks to get your patrons to have a good time. This is the kind of place where you can close your day or kick off your night in a delightfully relaxed atmosphere. So we sit back – insofar as that’s possible on a bar stool –  and order another drink for the road.