Authentic charm at the new seaside hotel in Blokhus
It's days since Strandhotellet first opened its doors and everywhere still smells of freshly hewn wood and new paint. “It's funny - you totally expect it to smell a bit like an old house,” a guest says, “and many visitors come in and ask if it’s an old hotel, as they’ve never noticed it before.”
“That’s perhaps the biggest compliment we could get,” hotel director Anders Thorsager says.
“The developer has put plenty of energy into creating an authentic seaside hotel and to ensure the building blends in with the surroundings naturally.”
Which is why Jette Lehmann, set designer on the Danish TV drama series Badehotellet (The Seaside Hotel), has been here to advise on the right atmosphere and the carefully chosen interior design, classic architecture and uncompromising craftsmanship solutions to complete the illusion of the hotel as a treasure dating from the golden age of Jutland seaside hotels. However, it by no means feels like a stage setting, and the hotel includes every modern convenience such as WiFi, flat screen TVs and a wellness area.
Just two years ago, not a single brick had been laid. The site was a car park. The couple behind the hotel, Marie Louise and Steffen Ebdrup, owners of the historic Futten restaurant and Café Laden in Blokhus, had intended to build a Bed & Breakfast on the site, as there was a shortage of overnight accommodation in the area. However, their dreams quickly ballooned into something bigger - a seaside hotel in the original style and everything that entails.
Before starting building, the couple sought inspiration from seaside hotels in Denmark and Sweden and commissioned local architect Jørgen Ussing to design the hotel. The project in the North Jutland seaside town then took off.
“The first spade went into the ground 14 months ago,” Thorsager says. He was appointed hotel director in January this year, and together with the developer, has kept a close eye on every detail as the hotel came into being. And every detail is carefully considered. All the rooms have been given an individual style with sympathetically selected wallpaper and color scheme, balcony, deep window sills as in the old days and French style bathrooms. And where there’s a join in the patterned wallpaper, this has been matched with the utmost precision.
“It may not be cheap to build in this way, but it's very satisfying even so. As the developer, Marie Louise has been heavily involved in the design and styling of the hotel and has had her say on everything from the wallpaper to the toilet brushes,” Thorsager says.
The day we meet him, he’s been playing the role of janitor and like the rest of the staff, he’s become a bit of a handyman, changing light bulbs or working in the garden, whatever needs doing. “And that's the way it should be,” he says.
“We're a hotel with a high standard of service, but with an unpretentious approach. This also applies to the staff, where we’re not really into demarcating who does what. We work on the basic premise that everyone can do everything, and we change roles depending on what’s necessary. Which is why, for instance, the morning waitresses also do the cleaning. This means you gain a good understanding of the whole enterprise and can balance the books,” Thorsager says.
It’s not the same story in the kitchen, however. Thorsager himself has a background as a chef and his brigade have experience from top Michelin-starred restaurants such as D’Angleterre and Kong Hans Kælder in Copenhagen. They excel in French-Nordic cuisine based on locally sourced ingredients such as herbs from the sand dunes and mushrooms from the forest.
“We’re aiming high with our restaurant, while avoiding snobbishness,” Thorsager says. “We want to appeal to both hotel guests and other diners, and offer everything from a good lunch and cake table to an 8-course evening meal, that you can also pick and choose individual dishes from. It should be about having a wonderful food experience and not on complying with a specific dress code. We’re hoping, therefore, that people will also see the restaurant as a place where you can come for a cake and coffee after a walk along the sand dunes, or enjoy a glass of wine or even just a cold beer in the garden.”
The seaside hotel has already attracted plenty of bookings, and proving especially popular with Scandinavians.
The classic style and properly thought through features means it’s not that obvious that Strandhotellet in Blokhus in North Jutland is an all new development. But even though it’s the first new build seaside hotel on Denmark’s west coast for decades, it possesses the atmosphere, comfort and closeness to nature that the original seaside hotels are famous for.
Sønder i By 2, Blokhus
Text: Lise Hannibal