Rooms from 60 € based on double occupancy, breakfast included - Open 365 day
Canadian charm nestled in the heart of a small-town Dutch market square
In the quaint (former) market town of Lochem, 't Shanda Lee Bed and Breakfast can be found gracing the main square. The oldest tenant house in the heart of the village, its location is idyllic. From here walking and battlefield tours, art exhibits, cafes, and restaurants are a mere stones throw away.
And, if you happen to be Canadian, like I am, you'll be delighted to know that this town is covered with Canadian charm. From the to-go canisters of Timmies original brew available at the Muskoka cottage-like restaurant Mondani, to the maple-syrup drenched pancakes at 't Shanda Lee's pancake house, it's bound to resonate with travelers seeking somewhere authentic and filled with simple delights.
The latter of theses two Canadian-run addresses lay perched between the town's most historic buildings - oozing with medieval market-town-architectural idiosyncracies. With its adjacent alley more reminiscent of Harry Potter's Diagon than anything else, it's highly Instagrammable as well. So, whether you're after a calm weekend away, a cycling trip, or a hands-on historical experience for the family, you'll find what you're after in Lochem at 't Shanda Lee. Not to mention, get some picture-perfect photo ops in all the while.
A set of brick steps and a winding wrought-iron staircase connects guests to the medieval alleyway from 't Shanda Lee's communal patio, garden, and terrace. Pausing for a minute before making your way along will reveal several unique herbs and berries planted all around the B&B's garden. Each offering potential ingredients for the in-house baker's daily cake of choice.
Served as a welcome treat, they're best savoured alongside a coffee on the terrace as well as in-room. Feeling a bit spoiled, we'd enjoyed two different ones each day. The fav? Chocolate. By the way, did we mention that they're super-moist and scrumptious?
But the cakes and balcony aren't the only extras to be appreciated. Known for its at-home feel, 't Shanda Lee's staff focus their efforts towards services and amenities that make guests feel, well, at home.
Bikes can be locked up or charged (if electric) in the back of the courtyard. Goods from the cafe or your own arsenal can be snacked on throughout the facility. And, despite the perfectly lovely washrooms in each bedroom, guests can make use of a private bathroom for a more laid-back session in the tub. Heat floors, bubbles and all.
As for the patio, there is ample seating and an awning to keep several tables and chairs dry throughout the rainy months.
From the generous second floor balcony, taking in the medieval de Gudulakerk (church) while sipping on a hot beverage makes for the perfect mid-day treat. With a selection of teas and coffees on offer in the B&B's shared kitchenette, pouring seconds isn't an issue either. Tucked inside the patio doors, it's constantly stocked to keep you caffeinated throughout your stay: a simple amenity that doesn't go unnoticed.
The guest rooms, one of which faces the main square, are humble yet fitted with all the necessities: complimentary and speedy Wi-Fi, soft sheets, high-ceilinged bathrooms, ample oversized towels, and a soft colour palette. Don't mistake them for being Spartan, but rather they are understated and comfortable all the same. Utilising your room as a homebase between trips to the cafe, strolls in the square, and a soak in the B&B's private bathroom is easy.
The real charm of Lochem comes from the people and the town itself, especially hotel manager, Shawn McKay. Hailing from Canada some 15 years ago, he's no-newbie to the Dutch hospitality scene. Earning his stripes at the much talked about Krasnopolsky in Amsterdam's old city-centre, he's as hospitable as he is jovial and practical.
At the end of the day, he knows what people are like, and what they like - and so, he aims to please.
Moved by the similarities in both Dutch and Canadian culture, he selects local essenitals and organic ingredients for his cafe underneath the hotel. A favorite snack for visitors is the baked potato. Topped with indulging ingredients inspired by the seasons and supplied by a local farmer, it's worth a try. The maple syrup for the pancakes is also liberally supplied and sure to satiate. If you already have lunch plans, you'll be treated to a breakfast of local sausage, croissants, pancakes, and more when you book direct.
To embrace the season further, bike rentals are available through an arrangement at the hotel in cooperation with a locally run bike shop.
Hopping on and off of a comfy Dutch bicycle adds to the charm of the visit too. Within 10-15 KM of Lochem, numerous hamlets open themselves up to the curious passersby. Each is as delightful as the one before it. And, with a selection of traditional and motorised options, it couldn't be easier to get around while taking the time to sightsee.
A favorite nearby town is Borculo. Though small, its Moulin Bistronomie restaurant housed within a working traditional Dutch mill is first-rate. In close proximity to public houses, a nightcap can be enjoyed too.
In the evenings, retiring earlier than usual back at 't Shanda Lee becomes a treat when you've got the 'Green Room'. Fitted with multiple window treatments, the goings on of the main square are in full view. Plunk down onto the floor, elbows cushioned by a spare pillow and sip a glass of wine, while reminiscing about the day's events with your travel companion. There's a charming wine purveyor just minutes away with a selection sure to satisfy most palettes and connoisseurs. So, naturally picking up an affordable bottle to enjoy during your weekend getaway is a tempting suggestion.
Before arriving in Lochem, making use of the city's website is smart. Local concerts are often held in nearby manor houses, and art galleries pop up throughout the municipality. Seats on an old Germanic river boat can be reserved if you have a soft spot for life on the waterways as well. Many farms hold seasonal tours and hands-on activities as well. And, if you're looking for an educational and inspiring trip: Canadian historians offer customizable battlefield tours in the area. More info can be found here.
So, are you ready to head to the Netherlands for a bit of Canadian hospitality and shared-history? Let us know in the comments below.