Seaside Beauty – Vesper Hotel, Noordwijk
Amazingly, this is the first really smart boutique hotel in the upmarket seaside village of Noordwijk with front-row views of the North Sea. Brothers Michiel and Martijn van den Berg run the place, and also own the two beach clubs (Bries and Zuiderbad) opposite. They are long-term friends with Bart Akkerhuis, who has worked as an architect for Renzo Piano in Paris for years and was responsible for the interior design, including a sculptural shelving unit that bisects the building from behind the ground-floor bar all the way up to a stained-glass skylight.
The service is skilled but relaxed: check-in is conducted from the comfort of a sofa rather than a desk; luggage is delivered to your room pronto; staff welcome you with delicious nibbles (delicate cheese sticks wrapped in Iberico ham). The bedrooms are a mix of contemporary and vintage, with many items of furniture bought by the owners from flea markets in Paris. Suppers are fresh and fishy and may include clams, oysters or salmon sashimi. Dutch suikerbrood – the most delicious bread you will ever taste – is served at breakfast along with frisky fresh juices and healthy shakes.
Koningin Astrid Boulevard 46 (+31 71 800 9988; www.vesperhotel.com)