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How a former Amsterdam wasteland became a key post-COVID-hospitality model

Although the pandemic has made many city-dwellers want to escape for a while, travel restrictions have limited how far they can go. Enter urban escapes, such as The Unbound in Amsterdam.

‘In the long term, leisure might become a stronger segment than business,’ said Youri Sawerschel, founder of brand strategy and design agency Creative Supply, in our recent discussion on the future of hotels, post-pandemic. ‘Hotels in the outskirts with privacy and nature, or even glamping concepts: the good ones will be the big winners.’ As if answering Sawerschel’s call, The Unbound has cropped up on the edge of Amsterdam West amid wild gardens and organic fruit and vegetable fields. Although the surrounding nature is somewhat spartan right now – the site was a former wasteland, after all, and winter has plucked the greenery from the trees – it’s easy to see the potential in what is already an oasis from busy Amsterdam city life.

The boutique hotel – which includes spacious cabins and suites; a spa; and a restaurant serving seasonal, local food, some of it even snipped straight from the garden outside – was designed by Dorens Architects and Studio Appelo, the latter of which also worked on the concept and art direction. The interiors are by Studio Pistache, while Felixx is behind the landscape architecture. Made from low-maintenance, sustainable European wood, the buildings all stand on stilts, reportedly to minimize impact on the earth beneath and surrounding nature but presumably also a design solution to overcome the often waterlogged Dutch soil. Tapping into the ever-increasing wellness trend, The Unbound also features a sauna, yoga pit, meditation circle and recreational pond. With many reports indicating people will holiday closer to home, even post-pandemic, expect to see a lot more urban-outskirts getaways from now on.

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