We hailed a cab directly from the Gran Via at 5:30 in the morning. At a more sane hour we would have taken the Renfe train or the Metro, but at that time we would have needed to leave at 4AM to get to the airport at a suitable time to check in for our flight to Amsterdam. This was, however, a great time for the taxi. We scored one immediately, just steps from our apartment. Given that it was raining, that in and of itself was sufficient reason to go this route. To take the faster Renfe, would have required a considerable walk down to the Puerta del Sol. Though closer, the Metro would have been much more unwieldy with our luggage. In less tired circumstances, such as upon our arrival in Madrid, it was a perfectly fine option to take us to our apartment. The taxi got us to the airport in a breeze. There wasn’t any traffic at 6AM. Our flight on Air Europa was on time and uneventful. I actually slept from just after take-off to just before arrival – quite possibly a personal first.
Off the plane, we had to wait a while for our luggage, but as we exited, we were met by Hans, our butler from the five star hotel of De Librije, the three Michelin star restaurant and home of De Librije Zusje, the two Michelin star restaurant of Chef Jonnie Boer and his wife Therese. Hans collected us and our luggage and whisked us to the hotel’s Mercedes for the hour and a half ride to Zwolle.
For nearly the next twenty four hours, we were in the lap of total luxury. Ensconced in the suite called “Bubbels” (why was I with my son and not my wife?!), we rejuvenated.
The hotel is a former women’s prison that has been totally redesigned, while maintaining an old-time charm as well as components of the site’s history.
I took a walk around the charming Dutch city and over to the nearby De Librije restaurant on the other side of the canal. Also located in an historic building, the restaurant exudes class.
I stopped in for a look around and wound up enjoying a cocktail – one of a number of versions of a Gin & Tonic that the restaurant offers under the heading of “Gin & Jonnie.” I can’t say that I’ve ever had a better one!
Zwolle is a charming little city with lovely architecture, canals and plenty of bicycles – even in the middle of winter on a cold, icy day.
Of course it was to visit the restaurant, that brought us to Zwolle in the first place and Jonnie Boer’s food proved to be well worth the trip. A mix of local and exotic ingredients and flavors, De Librije is the epitome of a three star Michelin restaurant with an elegant setting, superb service and beautiful, creative and above-all delicious food and beverages. We felt truly pampered throughout dinner and into breakfast the next morning. A more detailed account of the meal will be forthcoming.
For more photos of the hotel, Zwolle and inside De Librije please see my Flick’r Photoset.