A short trip to Villa Augustus was part of my visit to Dordrecht a few weeks ago. I also visited Vreeken’s Zaden (blogged about it here) and had a nice lunch at de Zusjes. Villa Augustus was together with Vreeken the head attraction for me though that afternoon.
Villa Augustus is an old water tower which was build in 1880. A few years ago the whole building complex was rebuild into – what they call – ‘a hotel-restaurant & market-cafe in one garden’. At it’s current situation the building is situated along side the water (which it also was originally, but had changed later on), so it’s easy to arrive here by boat. There are boats that can bring you from Rotterdam to here. Which must be a nice way to arrive (we arrived by car with Marijke, there is a big parking lot on the back). The building is owned by the owners of Hotel New York in Rotterdam and it has the same kind of feel to it. Partly because it’s also situated along side the water.
© Villa Augustus
The difference with Hotel New York is clearly the big garden that surrounds the buildings and that’s why I actually wanted to visit this place for a long time. I knew that this wasn’t going to be the best time of year to do this. But since I try to go to the Netherlands as less as possible, I had to take this opportunity and visit the place in grey February. I made a few pictures along the way.
Although it was a grey, we were lucky, since the sun did pop out quite a few times. The garden was pretty empty. There were quite some big kale’s still around. As you can see this one was even taller than I am. I just love the colour of kale. Hopefully we’ll have a kale this big upcoming winter in our garden. So although the garden was empty, it was still very interesting to see. It was interesting to see the structures of the garden, which you obviously can’t see if everything is blooming and growing.
What I also found interesting is that this historical spot is to be found in between high rise buildings that you can see beyond the walls of the complex. Being inside the walls gives you almost a fairytale feeling. I don’t know, it felt special. The current owners initially didn’t want to take on this project because of it’s surroundings. Together with the local government they are now putting energy into this area to bring it back to live. Which is nice. It’s nice to see that one historical building can have a positive effect on a bigger area.
Anyhow, enough about the outside. The inside area is also great. There are several buildings. The reception hall of the hotel is the first part we visited. You can find the pictures of that part on top of this post. Next to hotel rooms, you can also find meeting rooms there. On the other side of the garden you find the restaurant and the shop. Both are amazing. In the shop you can find great gifts, but also a fresh groceries or home made jams.
The restaurant is one big open space where people work, eat, talk & enjoy each others company. There are many design objects hanging all over the place and the light of the enormous windows puts everything into a great perspective. The food was good, although I must say that my lunch at the Zusjes earlier that day tasted better. More about that in a later post though.
If you are any way near Dordrecht, which lies in the south part of the Netherlands, I would advise you to visit this place. It’s really a great place to relax, but also get inspired. I can imagine that it can be awfully busy in summer, so if you like your peace, you should visit outside peak moments.
I believe I have done my part now in the word-of-mouth marketing strategy the owners had planned out for this place. They didn’t invest money in paid marketing (upgrading the place was expensive enough I guess). They decided that people would come to this place because others would tell them what a great place this is. I guess it’s working.