Like a lot of German 90s kids, I have a special relationship with the North Sea in Germany’s northwest. My family spent a beautiful summer holiday there, surrounded by baby seals, legendary tidal flats and tons of sandy shells that all made it home (to my mother’s dismay).
The North Sea is known and loved for its fairly rough climate; it’s often windy, cold and you have very few traditional sandy beaches. To me though, that’s the fun of it. The scenery is very dependent on the weather which can completely change – and oh it does – within ten minutes and go from pouring rain to rainbows and sunshine.
Norderney is one of seven populated islands in the North Sea and part of the Wadden Sea National Park. The first resort there was founded in 1797 when more and more bath houses were built for guests who discovered Norderney as the perfect holiday spot in the following decades and centuries. Rightfully so: 14 kilometres of sandy beaches along with chic villas and an air so fresh and healthy that many people suffering from asthma and allergies return each year just to breathe it.
So when I received the invitation to try out Inselloft, a new concept hotel on Norderney island, I jumped at the chance and packed my rain jacket, knowing we most probably wouldn’t be up for a lot of sun even though it was June. I was super tired from busy weeks full of work and little play in Berlin and craved some time out in a pretty hotel where even the sauna has an ocean view. The only way of getting there is by ferry from Norddeich pier, which is part of the coastal town of Norden. If you go by car, you better leave it on the mainland to avoid incredible ferry costs.
Inselloft Norderney opened two years ago and it’s safe to say it has given the whole island a fresh and progressive note. The two brothers Jens and Marc Brune (who also happen to be architecture and hotel specialists) have been devoting a lot of time, energy and money on giving Norderney a luxurious and modern feel; Inselloft is one of their many projects. The whole complex is about making you feel at home in spacious apartment-style rooms with the sea on your doorstep, and plenty of design and spa treasures to keep you busy if required.
Having the smell of fresh bread go through the building first thing in the morning was a particular treat. It’s very rare these days to find bakeries that still bake their own bread (even in Berlin) and don’t use frozen products, so I couldn’t believe my nose or taste buds at first.
I can tell you that I’ve never slept (at least not in a hotel) as close to the sea before. I don’t have to explain the magic of listening to real waves before you fall asleep instead of the various apps… And then pulling the curtains away the next morning, still sleepy and having forgotten how spectacular the view is. There are three different types of rooms – you can chose between a studio, a loft or a penthouse with prices ranging from €150 to €330 per night.
Inselloft consists of four landmark buildings which used to serve as hotels before they were transformed into a concept hotel with 24 rooms and lofts. They could have built more rooms but instead decided to use the front of the building for a series of shops: a wine store and restaurant, a bakery and concept store. These shops aren’t exclusively for hotel guests; everyone can use them and oh how they do! Instead of a traditional hotel lobby, the two brothers decided to go for a living room that actually feels like one: Free drinks, a fireplace, a great selection of magazines and, in true Inselloft style, a vibrant mix of industrial, Scandinavian and modern interiors – including a fabulous red extra large desk lamp.
For breakfast, which happens in a kitchen-like facility that becomes part of the bakery after 11am, guests can chose from a buffet that’s not huge but instead contains locally-sourced, quality products. Unlike many other hotels, the tables are community-friendly and will make it easy to start conversations with strangers so that at the end you will feel like you’ve just had an extravagant, lengthy brunch instead of that same old hotel breakfast.
Then there’s the concept store “1837 Norderney” which reminded me of a lovely store in London (Oliver Bonas, if you want to know) I used to work for whilst studying. They sell candles, pottery, even clothes – and a lot of beautiful things that will make your home even more homely. It’s safe to say I did not expect so many handmade, beautiful little goods on a island that has a reputation of being a bit, errr, elderly in terms of design and style. By the way, you can also buy the dreamy lamps that hang in the apartments in the store (yep, I asked that question).
The culinary delights don’t stop after your morning coffee though. The Wein & Deli restaurant doesn’t only have beautiful wines en masse that will match perfectly with your dinner, they also host regular gigs that try and serve you a hint of melancholia and seaside vibes with your dessert. Again, the lamps hanging above tables are absolutely spectacular and will make you want to give your kitchen/living room/flat a complete overhaul… After dinner, we had delicious cocktails at Milchbar, a bar with an exquisite taste in music and gin. It’s a two-minute walk from Inselloft and will give you all the sunset feels. Although the sky never got really, really dark, sitting there in the warmth reminded me of my favorite spots in Scandinavia (Iceland! Norway!) and there definitely is a certain Nordic feel about Norderney.
So, to be honest, we initially planned a lot more time outside and wanted to explore the island, its beaches and little alleys as best as we could but we got super distracted by all the little treasures to find at Inselloft. Plus, the weather wasn’t doing us a favor, or maybe it was, looking at that sauna with a view….
Fancy staying at Inselloft? Book here now!
All photographs taken by Caroline Schmitt
We were invited by Inselloft Norderney, however all opinions are our own.