Zeeland, in the Netherlands, is the perfect example of a nearby destination (1h30 from Brussels) and yet ultra exotic! With its mills, its polders, its typical small towns along the water, and its good gourmet addresses, this Dutch province always has some pretty surprises in store. I had already discovered Zeeland during an unforgettable lobster-themed trip. This time, it is in Zierikzee that we set down our suitcases to discover the very first hotel to be authorized in the historic center of the city, the splendid Romantik Hotel Mondragon, as well as its promising gourmet restaurant, the Cristó.
THE ROMANTIK HOTEL MONDRAGON, FOR A GOURMET AND LUXURIOUS GETAWAY IN ZIERIKZEE
These two names, Mondragon and Cristó, were not chosen by chance: they refer to a key figure in the history of Zierikzee, Cristóbal de Mondragón, a 16th-century Spanish general who besieged the city in 1575 under the order of King Philip II of Spain and conquered the city. This one stayed in the district where this new hotel is today, the Oude Haven, the old port of Zierikzee.
The Romantik Hotel Mondragon, one of the last members of Romantik Hotels, wishes to recall the Dutch golden age with luxurious decoration, in a baroque style, with a contemporary twist. The hotel has a total of 41 rooms and suites. The 38 rooms are divided into four wings: each wing is decorated in different styles and colors, inspired by different regions and by the cardinal points.
We stayed in one of the golden and blue rooms, to the north, overlooking a very quiet interior courtyard. The room was spacious and well appointed with a very comfortable queen size bed. An excellent base to comfortably explore the region!
Well hidden, the hotel also has a pleasant lounge nestled in the “Mondragon tower”. If you are looking for a quiet place, this is ideal!
GASTRONOMY AT RESTAURANT CRISTÓ
But the Mondragon hotel has also bet on gastronomy, with its Restaurant Cristó, a gourmet restaurant led by chef Kees Visser (Dutch finalist for the Bocuse d’Or), who offers contemporary cuisine inspired by French gastronomy, with a A touch of Spanish Basque cuisine, another little nod to Mondragon’s region of origin. The cuisine (which clearly aims for a small place in the Michelin guide) gives pride of place to local ingredients, and in particular to fish from the North Sea and the Eastern Scheldt. We discovered an original and innovative cuisine, with very pleasant combinations of flavors and textures.
The restaurant offers a seasonal menu which is served in 3 to 7 courses (from € 39.50 for the 3 courses, up to € 79.50 for the 7 courses, excluding wines). We tasted the 4-course menu, the quantities of which were perfect, accompanied by a very fine selection of European wines presented by the restaurant’s sommelier. On the menu: Scallops and eel – carrot – lemon – buckwheat (my favorite of the meal); Dover sole, peas, hollandaise sauce and crunchy chorizo (super gourmet!); beef short rib – celeriac juice – samphire – potato fritter (more classic but very well executed); and to finish with a sweet note a nice coffee, caramel and hazelnut dessert. In short, a very successful evening! Special mention also for the delicious gin and tonic tasted as an aperitif,
For those with a sweet tooth, know that the hotel offers a gastronomic package starting at € 210 per person, which includes two nights with breakfast in a Club room and a 5-course menu at the hotel restaurant (with wine pairing on day of arrival).
Next to this upscale restaurant, the Mondragon hotel also has a very cozy café, open all day, the Stadscafé ‘t Gouden Elfje. It is open to everyone and you can have breakfast, a light lunch or just have a drink. As far as we are concerned, as the weather was fine, we had breakfast on the terrace, along the water: it was very pleasant!
The opening of the Romantik Hotel Mondragon coincides with the 800 years of the city of Zierikzee and it can be said that this historic city is truly one of the hidden gems of the Netherlands. It is also the city with the most listed buildings in the Netherlands! I had only taken a quick tour of it on my first trip to Zeeland, but after doing the full tour of the city, I fell in love even more. Bordered by a few canals, the town of Zierikzee is very atmospheric. I really recommend that you take a few hours to wander at your ease in the small streets of its city center. It is very easy to navigate on foot, and the hotel can provide you with a small map that includes all the sights of the city not to be missed, to guide your steps.
The unmissable symbol of the city is probably the Zuidhavenpoort, the old port of Zierikzee, with its fortified tower. For great views of the canals, you can stroll on Visserdijk, Engelse Kade or the Niewe Haven where you might see boats returning from fishing (in the surrounding area you mainly fish for prawns, sole and Oysters). Oude Haven Appelmarkt, Poststraat, Mol, are some of the most photogenic corners of the city. Do not miss the “Dikke Toren”, the “big” Zierikzee tower, the pretty Nobelpoort, and not far from there the mill lost in the middle of the city, quite unusual!
The small island of Schouwen-Duiveland, on which Zierikzee is located, also has other curiosities to discover, such as… vineyards! Yes, it is possible to go and taste the wines of Wijnhoeve De Kleine Schorre in Dreischor, not far from Zierikzee. And of course, there are also some nice bike rides to do in the area (you can go to the beach for example). The Mondragon hotel can also rent you electric bikes.
In short, if you fancy a gourmet, luxurious and historic getaway this summer, Zierikzee is waiting for you!