villa augustus – dordrecht, netherlands

May 16, 2011

I guess you know you are a true designophile when you select travel destinations based not on area attractions, but on accommodations. Such criteria has led me to remote regions of the Scottish Highlands (where I found myself alone and pregnant on the windswept moors while my husband and mother sampled ale at the local pub), and to rundown mansions in southern Sicily. It doesn’t have to be luxurious, just exquisite.

Clockwise: aerial view, room detail, breakfast, outdoor cafe chairs *

For my next lodging-driven adventure, I’m surely going to Villa Augustus in Dordrecht, Netherlands. In these photos you may notice the mark of my flickr friend Ingrid Jansen, whose home and work I have featured here. When not making her own beautiful wood and wool creations, Ingrid works at Villa Augustus, arranging flowers and otherwise contributing her design sensibilities. (Yes, I find myself increasingly envious of her life!)

Housed in an old 1880’s water tower, Villa Augustus is a hotel, restaurant, garden and market. Much like the produce grown in the Villa’s own garden, the whole place feels “organic.” The hotel interiors feature a colorful mix of styles, both historic and modern, as if each piece were chosen solely for its character, piece-meal and over time. The restaurant is similarly eclectic and serves locally produced delectables that change daily. In the market, you can buy your own fresh fare: flowers, baked goods and veggies, or indulge in a sweet or two. Also for sale, fabulously original Dutch curios and souvenirs by local craftsmen.

Unlike those highly-conceptualized hotels that rip an old building out of time and place, Villa Augustus appears grounded in the rich and diverse history of the people and town. Though once a municipal facility, the Villa now teams with life: flowers, colors, food. Employees – making, cooking, crafting, and growing – ¬†seem friendly and “connected,” not all proper and posh. The effect is rather personal. One gets the sense that rather than a removed palace, Villa Augustus makes you feel part of the landscape. As if you were staying at someone’s cozy, country farm where all is earthy, charming, and utterly original.

Clockwise: reception, restaurant, room details

market, cafe chairs*

restaurant, market*

“villa wares” ¬†– Being obsessed with everything rabbit as I am, I absolutely love the Villa’s bunny logo.*

Easter chandelier and year-round rabbit logo*

* photos copyright Ingrid Jansen. Used with permission of the artist.

market cafe*

market and table set for special occasion*

water tower and grounds

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