Noordwijk, Netherlands

Photo: Vesper Hotel
Photo: Vesper Hotel

It’s starting to feel hot and sticky outside, which means it’s time to start planning your annual European beach trip. This year you want to try a new place, though. You don’t want to follow the crowds to the Balearic Islands or the Aegean Islands. You’d rather try something different, so Sicily, Capri, and Sardinia are out. But you want to be ensured good weather, so Varamon and Skagen aren’t good bets, unfortunately. What about the Netherlands?

Most people, who aren’t Dutch, don’t think of the Netherlands as a beach destination. But with much of the land at sea level and nearly 300 miles of coastline, it shouldn’t be much of a surprise. Noordwijk, located north of The Hague and only 30 minutes from Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, has a long sandy beach and windswept sand dunes. It’s also home to the first boutique hotel along the Dutch coast.

The Vesper Hotel sits across the street from that gorgeous beach. You’re welcomed to the white hotel with check-in on the couch, a cool drink, and little nibbles instead of the usual imposing front desk. The upstairs rooms have vintage furniture, espresso machines, and modern bathrooms. While you can see the high sand dunes and the choppy North Sea from your balcony.

Photo: Vesper Hotel
Photo: Vesper Hotel

Spend your first afternoon exploring the charming seaside town. Noordwijk was established as a fishing village in 1200. Fishermen hauled in cod, haddock, and herring for centuries. Then tourists, in search of sunshine and salty air, arrived in the late-19th century. It’s been a popular destination ever since.

Walk Noordwijk Boulevard to see the cafés and the shops that line the main street. Visit the 19th-century lighthouse and St. Jeroen, a 17th-century Reformed Church. Follow the 4.5-kilometer Noordwijks Uurtje trail by the water tower, the statue of poet Albert Verwey, and the oldest house in town. Cycle through the bulb fields—they’re filled with gladioli, tulips, and daffodils during the spring—on the Keukenhof Lisse trail. Return to the hotel’s lobby for strawberry balsamic cocktails at the brass-and-stainless-steel bar during the violet hour. Then move over to the seafood restaurant Zuiderbad for fish-filled bouillabaisse and a sweet-flavored Breton plaice filet for dinner.

The next morning, after filling up on suikerbrood (sugar bread) during breakfast, head right down to the beach. Bries, the hotel’s beach club, already has beach beds and windscreens set up on the sand. Soak up the sun, finish the book you’ve been reading, and walk along the edge of the water. Eat a half-dozen salty Fines de Claires oysters with a bottle of chilled Sauvignon Blanc for lunch. You’re settling into your new beach routine pretty quickly. You’ll never overlook the coast of the Netherlands again.

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