Vesper Hotel | Noordwijk
Holland may not be the first place that springs to mind if you are contemplating a beach holiday, but since brothers Michiel and Martyn van der Berg opened their boutique destination hotel Vesper in Noordwijk last year there is good reason to consider visiting this beautiful sand dune lined stretch of coast on the North Sea.
When the building opposite the two beach clubs they run came up for sale in late 2013, the brothers decided to seize the opportunity to create something special. Working in partnership with architect Bart Akkerhuis, who as a former associate of Renzo Piano played a key role in the design and construction of The Shard, they sought to turn their vision into reality, and after work was completed to an astonishingly tight schedule, the hotel opened last summer.
We combined our visit with a trip to Amsterdam ( just 25 miles away), but Vesper is a great short break destination in its own right, or even somewhere to consider for a longer stay in the summer months, and easily accessible from Schipol airport.
This was the colourful interior that greeted us as we arrived to check in, (along with the immediate offer of a welcome drink)...
... and this was the view from our balcony room.
All of the rooms are individually designed, with vintage pieces sitting easily alongside Eames chairs and other design classics. The beds are handmade by a company in the South of Holland and bathrooms have rain showers and/or luxurious baths. Some of the rooms also have their own luxurious private spa cabins in which you can unwind while enjoying music, ambient lighting and steam therapy at the touch of a button.
There are sea views from most of the rooms and many have a private balcony or terrace from which you can relax in the comfort of a Hay lounge chair.
The hotel's most stand out design fetaure is a huge 10 metre high wall of steel and brass shelving. Decorated with an eclectic collection of vintage art and other objects, this spans the entire width of the bar and lobby area, then continues up a glass staircase towards the first and second floor rooms, before ultimately arriving at a stained glass skylight that dates back to the building's original 1906 design.
Taking its name from the Latin for 'evening' the hotel faces directly west and the sunsets are incredible. Watching the sun gradually sink below the horizon over dinner on our first night was one of the most memorable moments of our stay. I didn't photograph it - some things are best just enjoyed rather than photographed.
But although I usually make a point of not instagramming my food I simply couldn't resist capturing this...
On the second evening we headed over to the hotel's Bries beach club, where you can enjoy lunch, dinner or drinks, either in the restaurant or served in your own private cabana on the beach. On Wednesday evenings you can select your own fish from the pick of the market that day and watch the chef cook it - I enjoyed the most amazing tuna.
With its olive and lemon trees this feels almost like a little bit of the Mediterranean on the North Sea coast.
The service at Vesper is incredibly kind, friendly and attentive. It's a place where you instantly feel able to relax and unwind and let the staff take care of your every need. I'd forgotten to bring an adaptor for my hairdryer and I'd no sooner mentioned this than a member of staff appeared at my door with the aforementioned item. Nothing was too much trouble.
The emphasis is most definitely on unwinding and enjoying the moment. You can arrange a massage on the beach, borrow a yoga mat or simply relax and sip a cocktail from a sun lounger in the sheltered and secluded garden. I can recommend the Moscow Mule (served the traditional way in a lovely copper mug).
I read somewhere recently that what we ultimately remember about people is not what they say or do but how they make us feel. The same is true of places, and Vesper succeeded in making us feel that we were exactly where we were supposed to be.
Design Hunter was a guest of Vesper Hotel.
All images: Design Hunter