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Independent Minds: Valerie Jongeneel, Op Oost

Discover down-to-earth luxury on a Dutch gastrofarm with a ‘served by nature’ ethos

In a windswept corner of the Wadden Islands, Valerie Jongeneel met chef Joram Timmerman while collecting oysters on the mudflats of Texel – a wildly beautiful place not far from where their converted farmhouse and seaweed barn now stands. Valerie offers guests an all-natural experience at Op Oost, where the sounds of the Wadden Sea can be heard from the twelve spacious garden suites and lodges. Valerie has put great thought into every eco-conscious detail which supports the hotel’s Green Key Gold certification – from the COCOMAT mattresses to the homemade in-room vegan cosmetics and dried reusable flower arrangements.

Op Oost

Valerie and Joram foraging for salt marsh sea kale and other fresh ingredients for Op Oost’s farm-to-table menu.

Together with Joram, who guides guests on private oyster picking tours and wild foraging sessions along the shoreline, the couple lovingly nurture the surrounding farmland with a ‘just as nature intended’ approach, and ensure that everything is foraged, farmed, and fermented within 150 metres of Op Oost.

What does being ‘Independently Minded’ as an hotel owner mean to you?

Op Oost

It is a pleasure to wake up every day and be able to create and respond to the current moment and the needs of our guests and ourselves. Plus, at the same time staying close to (our own) nature. We live in a very difficult time and face challenges every day – but by staying true to what you believe in and what you wake up for every morning, the problems that arise become challenges that I am happy to take on.

What was the inspiration behind the hotel, and where do you continue to find sources of inspiration?

We like to go on adventures and discover all kinds of cities, countries and areas, from Sri Lanka to Curaçao and Ibiza to South Africa. Every moment is an inspiration, if you look sincerely, closely and are consciously present in the moment.

How do you think your hotel stands apart from other boutique hotels?

Op Oost is a gastronomic destination on Texel, a lovely Wadden Island just an hour’s drive and half an hour by boat from Schiphol Airport. Our farm chic boutique hotel is perfectly positioned on the east side of the island and close to the Wadden Sea. Our intimate hotel has only twelve suites, a nature-focused restaurant, the ‘Kook Atelier’ (“The Chef’s Studio”), and is surrounded by an edible garden full of medicinal herbs, edible flowers and berry bushes. The peacocks and chickens happily scurry around and bring our guests closer to nature, with a home-from-home feel.

Op Oost

Op Oost

Our restaurant is included in the MICHELIN Guide Netherlands 2021 and specialises in Nordic and botanical cuisine using many ingredients from our own garden, our farmers or from our own growers. Op Oost offers our guests the peace and quiet they need in these hectic times. Our guests let the power and beauty of the Wadden Sea wash over them, and find solace in our little wilderness. In our hotel you can be yourself and remember what really makes you happy, feel at home, and reconnect with nature on a deeper level. 

If you only had 24 hours to get a taste for your hotel experience, what would you recommend a guest must do?

As soon as you arrive ‘on East’ and you open the doors of your Garden Suite, put your suitcase in the corner and jump on the COCOMAT bed. Kick off your shoes and walk barefoot through the garden. Pick some herbs, sit on the swing and say hello to the peacocks and chickens. Feel the fresh salty wind on your skin. Grab your flip flops and walk to the Wadden Sea. It is low tide and you are struck by the special views. Gather some oysters and quietly walk back to the hotel. In the garden, enjoy your own collected oysters and a delicious glass of champagne. Before you know it, it’s time to have dinner – we expect you in our restaurant the ‘Kook Atelier’ where you can sit down to a culinary adventure through all the elements of nature, sampling our signature ‘Served by Nature’ menu.

Op Oost

Op Oost

The spacious, light-filled Garden Suites can be found on the ground floor of the farmhouse with their own entrances and direct access to the idyllic front garden.

After dinner, walk softly back to your suite. The sky is sparkling with stars, so you decide to drink one last glass of wine outside. The next morning, you hear a light knock on the door of your Garden Suite. Breakfast in our picnic basket is served at your doorstep. You open your garden doors and a fresh breeze welcomes you into this new day. After breakfast, step into the rain shower in your room. This gives our masseuse the time to transform your room into a private wellness moment. Completely relaxed, the reminiscing can begin…it’s time to go home again.

How would you describe your own perfect luxury experience?

Luxury cannot be captured in one moment, and the concept of luxury is never the same for me personally. Luxury can be a delicious ice-cold drink after a hike in the sun, a first refreshing shower after a backpacking adventure, or a mosquito net in a tree house suite.

Op Oost

The Kook Atelier makes special pairings and serves biodynamic and natural wines from lesser-known areas, alongside creating their own herbal infusions. 

But the greatest luxury is usually meeting the people and experiencing their local hospitality, the nature that makes you fall silent or the fresh, clean sheets you can hide under. In short, luxury is something that goes beyond your expectations or basic needs, and it is those smallest details that make my memories special.

Do you have a vision for the future of the hotel?

Op Oost

Guests are encouraged to visit Op Oost’s suppliers including local dairy and sheep farms, as well as the local farmers’ market.

We always think about tomorrow and the world around us and are therefore very proud of our Green Key Gold certification, and to be part of the SLH Considerate Collection. For example, we save 600 metres squared of farmland, 20 animals, 259kg of CO2, and 550,000 litres of water per month by not serving meat at breakfast. We hope more hoteliers will set similar targets as part of their mission, and give the environment the love and respect it deserves.