As a born and bred city girl, it’s sometimes a challenge to drag me out into nature. Long walk in the woods? I’d rather hang out in an Instagrammable café with a book. Bike more than 40 minutes? Okay, if there’s a glass of wine waiting for me at the end. Hike? You gotta be kidding.
The perfect weekend getaway between city and nature
Combine my attachment to the city with my family’s needs, and booking a weekend away can be a challenge. We often find ourselves struggling to find a destination that satisfies my appetite for chic comfort and a sense of design, the man’s need for energetic physical activity, and the mini’s need for play and quality time with both of us.
That’s why when Stayokay Dordrecht invited us to review their newly renovated hostel, we thought: okay, let’s give this a shot! Located on the edge of the Biesbosch National Park (between Zuid-Holland and Limburg), and close to the charming city of Dordrecht, Stayokay promised a happy middle between city and nature.
What we found was above and beyond our expectations, and a great base for a family-friendly weekend exploring the Biesbosch! Read on for the full review.
STAY & SLEEP in a hostel
I have to admit, when I heard the word “hostel”, I had my doubts. As students and backpackers, we’ve done our time in hostels, and I was happy to leave them behind. But what a pleasant surprise! Stayokay Dordrecht was nothing like the hostels of my youth.
Freshly renovated with simple, casual, Scandinavian-inspired design, and bright, fresh colours, Stayokay Dordrecht was cool, hip, and Insta-proof. Just how we Instagrammerbloggers like it! The private room was perfect for the three of us, with cozy bunk beds for the kiddos. If you’re not into changing sheets on your weekend off (like me), you can book the full-service option to have the bed linens in your room done up and ready for your arrival.
Aside from private rooms and dorm rooms, Stayokay Dordrecht also has special rooms, such as a floating Eco-lodge just for the summer months. All year round, you can also book the Wikkelhouse, an adorable cabin made entirely of recycled cardboard. Now this is hostelling at its most Instagrammable—and sustainable.
Unfortunately, the Wikkelhouse was booked during our visit. Of course, it was, just look at how cute it is! But I would definitely come back just to give this baby a try. You can bet on it.
But really, how much time are you going to spend in your room when nature is calling? During the summer heatwave, we planned the day’s activities on the wooden dock by the water, watching families sail by on boats and canoes (which you can rent directly from reception or at the Biesbosch centrum).
Tip: reserve bikes (including child bikes and child seats) and boats as soon as you check in (or even when you book), because they are very popular and are booked out fast.
In the mornings, I did my writing with a cup of coffee in the lobby and dining area while the mini played in the playground. Everybody happy, both in and outside the room!
What to do during your stay at Stayokay Dordrecht
With a rental bike from Stayokay Dordrecht, the treasures of the Biesbosch are yours to discover. A weekend is just the tip of the iceberg, and even this city girl could have stayed longer.
An easy 8km cycle from Stayokay Dordrecht, Biesbosch Museumeiland is a winner. The Biesbosch Museum (free with a Museumjaarkaart) has exhibits on life and wildlife in the national park, and a fun playground where kids can learn about dikes and dams.
From the museum, you can also take a free hour-long boat tour around the Biesbosch. By boat is one of the easiest and best ways to explore the winding waterways of this national park. We saw lots of other families on the water, too.
Dying to cool off? Less than 10 minutes by bike from Stayokay Dordrecht, Restaurant De Merwelanden sits next to a lake with a sandy beach and a shallow swimming area that’s perfectly safe for kids. There’s a playground too, so the kids can keep themselves entertained while you work on your tan.
Where to eat during your stay ay Stayokay Dordrecht?
Just 15 minutes away by car, Dordrecht offers great options for dining out.
Het Magazijn is a former furniture store in a beautiful Art Deco building, which has been repurposed into a restaurant, retail space, and art library with a garden. We loved our dinner here, so a review is coming soon.
A former water tower transformed into a hotel and restaurant with a greenhouse, garden, bakery and shop, Villa Augustus is the classic Dordrecht destination, and it’s absolutely magical. Don’t forget to try the divine cheesecake and lemon meringue pie.
Coffeelicious offers breakfast, lunch, and specialty coffee with a few sweet things on the side.
Weekending without kids? Then you’re free to drink the evenings away at Brut Food & Wine Bar for a glass (or more) of wine and De Tijd, which offers over 150 beers.
THE VERDICT: WE LOVE IT!
After our weekend at Stayokay Dordrecht, we already started discussing when we could come back and discover the rest of the Biesbosch. Easy on the eye, easy on the budget, with lots of things for the whole family to do. And with 21 other interesting locations (close to beaches, national parks, even a castle!), the rest of the Stayokay chain looks like a series of fun weekends in the making.
Any other hotspots in and around Dordrecht we should know about? You know, for our next visit!
Disclaimer: Our accommodations, bike rental and meal expenses were courtesy of Stayokay Dordrecht via Lewis Communications. Thank you for your warm hospitality, and a wonderful weekend in de Biesbosch!