Keeping with my posts themed after great tulip-viewing accessible hotels in the Netherlands, the Golden Tulip – Leiden Centre hotel is a dramatic hotel just minutes from some of the best tulip and flower fields in all of Europe. The facade (see photo) caught my attention immediately, and then seeing the photographs of the inside of a room solidified it to me: this is a must-check-out hotel to stay in Leiden. I’ve been the the Netherlands and to other places in Europe. They’re not really knows for their spacious, affordable hotel rooms. The Golden Tulip – Leiden Centre is the exception to the small room rule.
Visiting Amsterdam in the Netherlands at the peak of Tulip season in March is a must for any bucket list or romantic vacation. By far, one of the best locales for seeing the best, most beautiful growing tulips is Keukenhof, just 20 minutes outside of the city center.
Take advantage of your location in the heart of the city by staying close to the flower market, Dam Square, the Vondelpark shopping streets and near the historic home of Anne Frank at the NH City Centre Amsterdam. With all of the amenities you come to expect from a higher class hotel, the NH City Centre Amsterdam is finely decorated with modern decor in a city that adores its historic flavor. Book a stay in March for an average of around 110€ per night.
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If you’re the kind of high-roller who owns art instead of creating it, and you enjoy a bit of opera and fine wines, then your choice would be The Dylan. The Dylan – named after Welsh poet Dylan Thomas – is a boutique hotel located on the site of a theater which burned down in 1772.
Today, The Dylan offers a mix of historical charm as a 17th century landmark with modern day luxury and style on the Keizersgracht, one of Amsterdam’s canals.
If you’re the up and coming artist looking for some appreciation and a place to chill, head straight for the Winston Hotel. Actually, make that hotel, club, bar, artist hangout, and a lot of other things besides. The Winston is one of the hottest nightspots in Amsterdam, located in the Red Light District.
The entire hotel is also one giant art gallery like Red Vic’s in San Francisco. Every room in the Winston is uniquely designed with themes like the latex room, tranquility room and ultraviolet room. The corridors offer exhibition space for even more art. A life size robot hangs on the wall, looking down on you.
There’s a smoking deck which overlooks the Red Light District’s lanes. Downstairs, a bar and a beer garden make for excellent hangouts. And all this comes in addition to the biggest attraction – The Winston Kingdom nightclub nextdoor with live music and DJs pushing the crowd beyond wild.
In case you want to forgo the hedonism and make like a tourist, then the Winston also kindly offers a sightseeing desk to help make the arrangements. With all the entertainment, free breakfast and double bed private ensuite rooms for $76.46, the Winston gets to be at the top of the list of cheap hotels in Amsterdam.
Valentine’s Day is coming and what better place to escape to but the Post Ranch Inn in Big Sur, California. This luxurious hideaway is found along a ridge high above the Pacific Ocean and perfect for that quiet and romantic getaway.
The entrance and 98 acre property is hidden or rather tucked out of sight along the western edge of Highway 1 just south of the village and near Pfeiffer State Park.
Big Sur has been attracting creative types to its wild landscape and isolated location for decades, starting with authors Henry Miller, Hunter S. Thompson and Jack Kerouac.
After Highway 1 was completed in 1937 the area was sought after by Orson Wells and his wife Rita Hayworth, who bought a cabin here in 1944. And one of my favorite Beach Boys album is Holland which features the song “California Saga/Big Sur”, written by Mike Love – it is the best.
Romantics as well as those looking for a peaceful retreat come to this area every year, and with the Santa Lucia Mountain Range dropping almost directly into the Pacific Ocean, secluded bays and unpredictable surf – Big Sur is the perfect secluded location.
The Post Ranch Inn has earned its reputation with the 2008 Traveler’s Choice Award for Best Romantic Hotel in the United States and the Conde Nast Traveler 2008 Gold List for World’s Best 700 Hotels, Resorts & Cruise Lines. And if that isn’t enough to convince you that this beautiful place is worth a visit, they were named one of the top “Ten Greenest Accommodations in the World” by Trip Advisor.
When I stayed here, the first thing I noticed was how secluded the property was away from the highway then how well organized it was. We parked our car below, on a lower part of the property and then were driven up to the registration. After checking in we were taken to our beautiful room overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
The amenities are very high end and just enough to make you feel pampered rather than overwhelmed and uncomfortable. I loved touches like the little iron tea kettle in the mini-refrigerator, filled with cream for your coffee or tea. The rooms are furnished with fireplaces and a big fluffy beds that have a clerestory window above for star gazing.
I loved the way our Coast rooms were set along the ridge so that you may be close to your neighbor but when you go out onto your deck, you cannot see anyone near by – all you can see is the sunset, maybe a California Condor fly overhead (there are several pairs that live in the area), or possibly whales on their biannual migration north or south.
During our stay I got up every morning and walked across the property down towards the pool, to the yurt for a yoga session – where we were never more than six guests, that was luxury.
Afterward there was still plenty of time to slowly walk back up the hillside for the free and delicious buffet breakfast in the restaurant. As a guest you will get preferential treatment for all of your meal reservations at their gorgeous Sierra Mar Restaurant – which showcases organic and seasonal foods.
A wonderful surprise treat you will find are the lovely sculptures situated throughout the property, sometimes in unexpected places.
And did I mention the rooms do not have a television? This makes the experience even better and very special. Soak up the impressive landscape and views, meditate or read a little, snuggle up with that special someone, walk the uninhabited beaches near by – or if you prefer book some time at the spa.
Big Sur is special place in California and in the United States. Its fragile ecosystem was tested last year when the Basin Complex Fire forced a two week evacuation of the area just before the 4th of July holidays. However, this resilient area is again thriving and ready for visitors whether to stay in this luxurious hideaway or to enjoy the local parks and beaches.
If you are looking for a unique place to escape to that will rejuvenate you during this unsettled time or a wonderful and romantic getaway for that special Valentine’s Day this year – the Post Ranch Inn is it.
Now I realize this isn’t for everyone but I consider the higher price tag an investment in my well being and spirit – there is something about Big Sur and this part of the California coast that speaks to the artist in me.
Photo credits to sfcphotography