These days, Dutch design superstar Marcel Wanders is the name behind massive hotels like the Mondrian in Miami and Germany’s Kameha Grand Bonn. But I actually prefer his first overnighter, the Lute Suites–a pinprick of a project in comparison–that he designed in a bucolic little village outside Amsterdam five years ago. A massive undertaking of unnerving scale and audacity, the Mondrian lets Wanders’ show off his design chops with rooftop topiary cabanas and a laser-cut spiral staircase, but the Lute feels more intimate and personal and accessible. Scuffed-up luxury–the kind of place you go to eat, hide and relax, not see and be seen. Plus, I like the backstory: After dining at Peter Lute’s famed Lute restaurant on the Amstel River, Wanders was so inspired, he asked the chef to collaborate on the neighboring row of 18th-century worker cottages.
Two summers ago, I dedicated three hours of a perfect sunny afternoon to a seven-course lunch on the outdoor patio at the Lute, and afterwards, I was lucky enough to score a tour of a few of the cottages. It felt like walking through Marcel Wanders’ design psyche. Filled almost exclusively with Wanders (and Moooi) furniture and accessories, there’s hardly a square inch that isn’t touched by his kooky-playful-yet-somehow-still-startlingly-beautiful aesthetic–custom wallpaper, floor stencils, Bisazza mosaics, textiles, and even a loft-style sleeping cocoon made from an iron flower pattern of his own design. All seven suites are completely different, and while they look super slick and over-perfect in photographs, they have a sort of rustic/old-meets-new/cozy vibe in person. Bonus for foodies: breakfast is delivered from the restaurant every morning.