The first time I heard about Villa Augustus, I was sitting in Studio Aandacht’s studio in Amsterdam’s IJburg neighborhood getting recommendations for a story I was writing about Dutch design. Ben and Tatjana pointed me straight to this playfully designed hotel, promising the most all-encompassing creative experience in the area. I was strapped for time, so I didn’t make it, sadly– but I’ve been following the progress and dreaming of getting back there ever since. I’ve looked at the website so many times, it feels like I’ve stayed there. At the risk of sounding overly praiseworthy and breathless about the place, Villa Augustus represents everything that is right and good in the travel world. It is so inspiring to see such creative care applied to every possible detail: walls with whimsical illustrations and geometrical prints hand-painted by the owner; fresh baked loaves of bread; handmade chandeliers that change every season; custom dinnerware emblazoned with the hare logo; and eclectic, mismatched furnishings handpicked for every room. In place of the typical hotel shop, there’s a flower and vegetable market, which makes perfect sense because the four acres of lush growing grounds surrounding the repurposed 19th-century water tower are dedicated to organic gardens, beautiful flowers, an orchard, and an Italian renaissance garden. There’s even a lemon tree greenhouse.
A testament to the creativity the place fosters, blogger/designer Ingrid Jansen, who makes the coolest wool-covered stools, spends three days a week manning the market shop and raves up and down about the magical design wonderland that owners Daan van der Have, Dorine de Vos and Hans Loos created. ”I’m in love with my workplace and feel privileged to work in such a wonderful place.” There are 37 rooms total–20 in the tower and 17 in garden building–and they’re all different. The interiors were designed by Dorine d Vos, who’s also an illustrator, responsible for the walls as well as a Villa Augustus garden and cookbook. To see some of her work and get a feel for the Villa Augustus aesthetic, check out the website she illustrated. Ingrid tells me there’s a room next to the greenhouse with a secret garden that’s “like a fairytale,” and I think that’s where I’d like to stay. Prices start at $165 and include breakfast, served in the restaurant, which is, of course, located right in the garden.