If you think Amsterdam is cool, try little cousin Haarlem for photo-worthy cafes, design hotels and culture galore. Visit Grote Markt square for artisanal treats and treasures, centuries-old museums for classic Dutch art and nearby Bloemendaal for beachside fun. Here’s our round up of boutique bolt holes and central stays at the coolest city in the Netherlands.
Staats is just too cool for school. Literally – the old school building is now a trendy boutique hotel with interiors to make design lovers swoon. Like a chocolate box of delicately wrapped delights, each room is wildly different: some are dusted in millennial-pink, others have a dark industrial style with gilded accents. Never heard of a carbon hammock bath? You clearly haven’t stayed in the jewel-hued Presidential Suite, where a boudoir-style bedroom steps down into a black marble-walled bathroom.
From this central hotel in Haarlem, a short stroll along the river takes you to the oldest museum in the Netherlands, Teylers Museum, which displays exciting art, science and natural history collections. Or rent a bike and make the leisurely half-hour pedal to the dunes of Bloemendaal aan Zee – look out for wild Konik horses and Scottish Highland cattle on your way. End the day with a soothing soak in your bath – every room has one.
With the train station a stone’s throw away and the regular airport bus stopping on the doorstep, Hotel Lion d’Or makes arriving in Haarlem that bit easier. The attractive awning-fronted building has been welcoming travelers since 1839, when it was first a public house. Now, a contemporary-chic cafe lounge serves up finger food platters and complimentary breakfast. Rooms are smart and stylish with window-side desks if deadlines can’t wait, Nespresso coffee machines and rainfall showers in crisp white bathrooms.
Have some fun in the Special One room at this funky hotel on the outskirts of Haarlem, with a DIY cocktail-making kit, a spinning top chair and a free minibar stashed with scrummy snacks and tempting tipples. Friday night is G&T time down at Zocher Bar and Kitchen, where you can watch the chefs whip up fresh fish dishes, seasonal and locally-inspired; finish with a raspberry, cardamom and hazelnut chocolate cake.
Pure indulgence is on the menu at Van der Valk, starting with the most abundant Sunday brunch you’ve ever seen – think wood-fired pizza, meats cured and roasted, American pancakes and fresh-from-the-oven croissants, seasonal salads and sushi. The Martinus restaurant is also open for healthy lunch buffets and à la carte dinners. In need of pamper time? Nourish your mind, body and soul in the luxurious Wellness Suite, complete with private sauna, jacuzzi and courtesy bottle of bubbly.
Hanging milk bottle lights, cowhide armchairs and creamy white interiors all hint at the past life of this central Haarlem hotel as a dairy factory. Splashed across the walls are music posters, vinyl records and album artwork to get you in the mood for dancing at the Patronaat, the alternative music venue just next door. A healthy and hearty breakfast spread is served in the Dairy Bar, and rooms feature modern conveniences such as smart TVs and Teufel speakers.
Inspired by the surrounding sand dunes of Bloemendaal, the 11 rooms at Hotel Bleecker invite you to slow down and get grounded, with soft earthy tones, natural textures and large windows to wake up with the sun. Begin your day with an invigorating ginger shot and organic superfood-sprinkled yoghurt in the sun-filled Brasserie Bleecker. After a day at the beach, call dibs on the squashy sofa for a fireside hot Nutella waffle. Solar panels, recycled rainwater and locally sourced ingredients are just some of their green initiatives.
Stay active during your Haarlem stay at the ibis Styles hotel, where rooms are bright, cheerful and sports-themed. Watch the speed skaters race around the neighbouring ice rink every morning or head across the road to the gym and squash club. A hot breakfast buffet is served at the hotel at an extra cost, but why not bike to the beach and have a toes-in-the-sand brunch – the cafes of Bloemendaal are a 20-minute bike ride away.