De Librije! (part 1 of …2?)
There were so many photos from this trip that I decided to break it into more than one post. So!
We had some things to celebrate and an unexpected windfall with which to do it, so Carel plotted…something. I didn’t know where we were going, only that I was to pack an overnight case and bring a little black dress and my glitters. So I packed the nicest dress I have, high heels and the diamonds (lab grown, I only wish they were truly genuine!), and off we went. He rang them up to tell them we would arrive between 4 and 5PM, and was told they would have the butlers ready for us.
( ! )
An hour’s drive later we were in Zwolle, and pulled up next to a rather depressing looking pile of bricks with bars on the windows. It looked like a prison. “We’re here!” Carel says, and, confused, I followed him into the building and into the foyer of a very modern and very luxurious hotel…which had been a prison. An absolutely bizarre concept, but they made it work.
We were greeted by a butler who welcomed us and immediately offered us a seat in the lounge, and some champagne. Not being a fool, I said “Of course, please. I never say no to champagne!”. It was excellent, and served with a small plate of superlative prosciutto, salami, olives, and some small wedges of cheese.
We sat there sipping and nibbling, looking at the ultramodern decor. I generally have a much, much more classical taste – Queen Anne style furniture, dark woods, dark rich fabrics, etc. This was so over the top to my eyes that I couldn’t help but like it, though Carel and I agreed that the flower arrangement needed some bright color – red! – to add some punch to it.
We had a second glass and then were escorted by our personal butler Hans upstairs to our suite. I was entirely unprepared for the decor and laughed right out loud. The doors of the old prison were still intact.
…and someone with a whimsical sense of humor had put their hands on it.
The heavy metal doors were propped open if someone was staying, and the interior door was entirely normal. Hans opened it and presented us with the Vanilla Suite.
I’ve stayed in some very nice hotels before, but nothing as lavish as this, and I’ve never been given a guided tour of my room by a liveried butler! That was fun, especially when the computer refused to cooperate with him. He seemed very relieved when we assured him that we could cope with the Apple system. Hee! The hotel guide says that “Within the boundaries of law and religion, your butler will provide you with anything you may require. The service our butlers provide is beyond price. You have but to ask!” …awesome.
The bathroom also made me laugh, since it had preserved the prison style. Cute!
The suite came equipped with a Turkish bath, a wonderful shower with one of those rainfall showerheads, an enormous jet-tub, an Italian coffee-press, his-and-hers kimonos…
Also, his and hers boxes of bath items. The butler waved a hand at the boxes and said “His has something a little naughty in it…” We checked, later, and they had identical contents except that his contained a condom, cheerfully wrapped. Next to the boxes was some very fanciful soap that smelled lovely.
Having thoroughly explored the room and giggled at each other, we marveled at the drapes – acres of raw silk, delicious stuff, in swathes of cream and silver. I wish I could have stolen them; they would look marvelous in here, but I reckon they’d notice.
Then we sat down to relax a bit and have a glass of water. While the butler had been explaining the room, he had pointed at a plate covered with a clear dome, containing a glossy green apple. “There is some apple pie if you are feeling hungry,” he’d said, and had moved on so quickly I assumed it had been a joke.
Out of curiosity as to why the hotel would go to such lengths over an apple, I removed the cover and tentatively poked it with a finger. Imagine my surprise when it gave to the touch?
We looked at each other and laughed. He HAD said pie, had he not? And there WAS a knife and fork laid out nearby. So I picked up the utensils and carefully cut into it. It was pie! Hans had set up us the pie! Around then, Carel explained to me that this hotel’s restaurant was the 1 Michelin star sister of the 3-star one also run by the same chefs – Jonnie and Thérèse Boer. After this experience, we will definitely be going to that one someday.
The pie was fabulous. Beginning to understand the implications, full of anticipation and a healthy appetite, we dressed for dinner and went downstairs, where we were escorted to the bar for an aperitif and a nibble before dinner was served.