When Chicagoan David Hernandez, who spent boyhood summers at a Latvian summer camp in Wisconsin, took his fiancé (now wife) Tereasa Surratt to see Camp Wandawega, they left with a parting request to the elderly priest: “If you ever decide to sell this place, call us first.” The call came five years later and the couple snatched up all 25 acres: the main lodge, a three-story hotel; two cabins; an archery range; basketball and shuffleboard courts; a garage; two piers; horseshoe pits; and all the furniture inside. Fast forward three years from purchase: The sprawling grounds look like something out of a movie—Sleepaway Camp with set design by John Derian perhaps? The camp is admittedly no-frills (Tereasa likes to call it camping indoors), but no effort was spared on creativity. Rooms are outfitted with well-worn furniture that came with the place, but the couple has worked in a beguiling mix of flea market and garage sale finds: a stack of leather suitcases in one corner, weather-worn water skis in another; Hudson Bay blankets neatly folded across beds; and vintage radios, alarm clocks, lanterns, thermoses, wellies and fishing lures as décor.
Tereasa, author of A Very Modest Cottage (which chronicles the cottage they rescued from her hometown in southern Illinois, drove to Wisconsin and rehabbed themselves), is working on her second book. This one about found collections, published by Random House. The creative ad exec couple is also in the midst of constructing a modern tree house, just outside the main lodge. A handful of local furniture designers/woodworkers designed the structure and spend work-play weekends trading manpower for enviable stays at Wandawega. Gregarious and overwhelmingly generous, David and Tereasa host a constant, rotating stream of friends and family, often organizing gigantic theme camps, like Art Camp, where Chicago creative-types descend on the verdant grounds for three days of field paintings, bird-house making, mini collages, button-making and big farmhouse dinners on the hill. But you don’t need a personal invitation anymore. Designtripper is proud to make the announcement: Rooms are now available for rent for the first time.
Elkhorn is about 90 miles from Chicago. Prices start at $200 per night for a boy scout canvas tented cabin or the one-bedroom cabin, with a two-night minimum. Rent it at wandawega.com.
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
A former immigrant hotel and youth prison, The Lloyd hotel in Amsterdam’s Eastern Docklands is part hotel, part cultural embassy (and part architectural marvel with its transformation by MVRDV). It’s been around for seven years, but design like this doesn’t get less interesting with time. In a country that truly respects and fosters innovative design, the hotel’s interior line-up reads like a who’s-who of the most clever, kooky and talented Dutch superstars. Rugs by Claudy Jongsta in the café lounge; a bar and custom light fixture designed by Richard Hutton; furniture by designers ranging from Piet Hein Eek to up-and-comer Christopher Seyferth; the Rag Chair by Tejo Remy sitting inconspicuously in the hallway (it really is comfy); a rocking horse by Ineke Hans; ceramics by Hella Jongerious. Even shutters, drapes and architectural details, like staircases, are commissioned as art installations. I have admired so many of these pieces online, where they sometimes feel intimidating, but in person—where they’re mixed and matched, and can be touched and tested—the design comes to life in the playful, often tongue-in-cheek way it was intended. The 117 rooms span a star rating—from one to five, so there’s a pay-what-you-can range of possibility. One of the five-star rooms, designed to accommodate bad behavior from rock stars with an eight-person bed, more often plays host to families. Kids will also love the rooms with sprawling, peaked-roof ceilings and dangling swings.
The Lloyd is currently working on its second location to open this spring!
[Building and hotel room photos by Yamandu Roos; bed detail by Dorien Oxenaar; music room by Rob 't Hart Photography.]
My Australian friend and travel companion called this Brooklyn walk-up “a bit daggy,” but the edge made us feel right at home in hipper-than-a-handlebar-moustache Williamsburg. The owners, who live upstairs with their two kids, rent out the ground-level floor of their charming three-flat for supplemental income. Outfitted in vintage furniture, mismatched china, wrought-iron beds, and cheery, patterned duvets, the space has a comfortable, lived-in vibe. Painted the prettiest shade of robin’s egg blue, walls curving up the grand staircase in the shared front entry are lined with paintings, and a Victorian-era loveseat is upholstered in a poppy, well-worn turquoise silk. In addition to the kitchen/dining and two bedrooms (one that also doubles as a living area), we had access to a magical outdoor patio and backyard, which could easily pass for a Waldorf playground with its twisted vines, trellises and garden fairies.
The price is $165 a night; the High Line is eight stops away on the L Line (a straight shot); and kids are welcome. Verbatim from their listing, “We LOVE kids!” Pack-and-play provided. Rent it at vrbo.com.