There’s a decent chance you’ve stayed in a seaside hotel with a name that directly evokes a wet pile of sand taking the architectural form of a fairy tale fortification. Just like hotels with the words “wave,” “shell,” “dolphin” or “breeze” in their names, “sand castle” hotels are pretty much a sand dollar a dozen in coastal resort towns.
But have you checked into in a hotel that actually is a sand castle?
Chances are you haven't.
Now you can — that is, if you happen to have the Dutch cities of Oss, in the North Brabant province, and Sneek, in southwest Friesland, in your travel plans. Oss and Sneek, both home to world-renowned annual sand sculpture festivals, are the sites of the Zand Hotel, a dual-property pop-up lodging experience that's constructed from sedimentary materials. The twin sand hotels — fully furnished one-bedroom suites, in actuality — are billed as the first of their kind in the world.
So, okay, technically you can’t stay in the Zand Hotel, as both rooms have been booked up solid. Shucks.
While each of these “special atmospheric spaces” took four weeks to build, like real-deal sand castles, the Zand Hotel is ephemeral in nature and only accepts guests for limited two-week runs. Each castle — the Oss installation sports a medieval-inspired vibe while the sand dragon-heavy Sneek sand castle was designed with an Asian motif — they will cease to exist when the sand sculpture festivals in both respective cities conclude (Sept. 28 for Sneek and Oct. 4 for Oss).
Non-taphephobics who were lucky enough to snag a space in the Zand Hotel will find that the accommodations aren’t all that dissimilar from more conventional lodgings: there’s WiFi, running water (yep, a flush toilet and a shower) and electricity. Windows and carpeting, too! And with each booking (about $172 for double occupancy), overnight guests are treated to a bottle of prosecco, a European breakfast delivered via room service and a guided tour of the nearby sand sculpture festival.
A restful slumber in the suites' luxuriously appointed king-size beds is guaranteed.
The suites are tastefully, if a bit spartanly, furnished as so that guests never forget that they are spending the night nestled within a 26-foot-tall mound of intricately sculpted sand.
On that note, the folks at the sand sculpture festival-specializing event firm responsible for the Zand Hotel, Global PowWow, are remaining somewhat tight-lipped regarding the specifics of the construction methods of the two installations. While the wood-framed suites are buried beneath temporary sand sculptures, they’re reportedly safe and secure — and presumably up to code.
Inspired in part by the ice hotel trend, Global PowWow plans to resurrect the Zand Hotel for next year’s festivals in Oss and Sneek and potentially erect similar habitable temporary sand sculptures outside of the Netherlands in the U.K. and Germany.