Vreeland (map) is a small village about a 20-minute drive southeast of Amsterdam. Situated on both banks of the Vecht River (a branch of the Rhine River), the village is picture-perfect, quintessential Dutch, with a scattering of grand manors and rows of quaint houses with their typical Dutch gables. The Vecht River is, in my book, one of the prettiest rivers in the Netherlands. In the 17th and 18th centuries, wealthy merchants from Amsterdam built their country estates along this river. These days, the manors, with their characteristic riverside tea houses, are popular attractions and you can spot them on a drive or a cruise along the river. I often take my family and friends on this scenic drive and we would sometimes stop in Vreeland for a coffee or lunch. The village is one of the most scenic on this route and it’s also home to a lovely hotel and Michelin-starred restaurant. When I decided to surprise my partner with a little culinary getaway from Amsterdam, I immediately thought of Vreeland!
My stay at De Nederlanden
I booked a stay at De Nederlanden, a romantic riverside hotel with its in-house Michelin-starred restaurant. Housed in a historic manor, De Nederlanden is a family-run hotel with the renowned chef, Wilco Berends, at the restaurant’s helm. There are ten rooms, some with views of the Vecht River. The rooms are very spacious, with a very comfortable bed, free (very good) wifi, television and a large en-suite bathroom.
The package I booked included a 4-course meal at the restaurant (excluding drinks) and a one-night stay with breakfast. As me and my partner arrived, we were warmly welcomed at the small reception counter. The check-in was swift and we were led to our room which was just above the restaurant and had gorgeous views of the river and the village. We dropped our bag in the room and headed straight for the comfy sofas at the river’s edge which we spotted when we arrived.
Gosh, what a blissful spot that was! We sipped on our wine and indulged ourselves in all sorts of canapés and oysters (oysters are a speciality of the chef) as we watched leisure boats sail by. It was so tranquil and the river, with its syrupy surface, was a soothing sight. We were also presented with the extensive wine menu to make our selection for dinner. After an hour or so, we were invited to our table at the restaurant’s terrace. The staff were terrific: friendly, courteous and above all, very professional.
Our four-course menu kicked off with a ‘fruit de mer’ (seafood platter) which was absolutely exquisite! Each layer held a different surprise but all the ingredients (including watermelon and avocado) blended perfectly to form a refreshing dish with delicate flavours of the sea.
The second course was a superb Peking-style roast quail with a rich hoisin sauce and this was followed by a palate-cleanser.
The main course soon arrived: a terrific tenderloin with braised sweetbread, carrots and chanterelles.
The dessert was another stunner: marinated strawberries with rhubarb, sorrel sorbet and sabayon of homemade limoncello! I couldn’t stop smiling – it was so good!
I was impressed by the top-notch quality of the ingredients and the innovative mix of flavours. The dishes were creative and well-presented, and most importantly, they were absolutely delicious!
The next morning, after a breakfast composed of different breads, croissants, jams, eggs, cold cuts and cheeses, we went for a stroll around the village. The village is tiny but the scenery is gorgeous!
It’s also possible to go for a longer walk along the Vecht River to Loenen, another picturesque village. This walk winds its way along the river past beautiful cottages and meadows. Loenen is also famous for its culinary scene, with two Michelin-starred restaurants (‘t Amsterdammetje and Tante Koosje) in its little cobblestone-paved centre.
If you’re thinking of a romantic weekend, culinary indulgence or a tranquil getaway near Amsterdam, head for a drive along the Vecht River and enjoy superb dining in serene, picture-perfect surroundings at De Nederlanden in Vreeland. I’m sure you’ll love it!