A Hospitality Tribute to the Roosevelt Legacy, in the City of The Four Freedoms

A bedroom in The Hotel Roosevelt

One could easily be forgiven for thinking that a boutique hotel named after a Roosevelt, in a place called Middelburg, would be located in New York state’s Hudson Valley – or at the very least, in the good old USA, where Teddy and FDR were legendary presidents. But the historic hotel we are talking about is The Roosevelt in the Netherlands – or, to be precise, in the capital city of the southern province of Zeeland, where the forbears of the two famous Roosevelt cousins hailed from.

The stately brick edifice in the center of Middelburg that is now home to The Hotel Roosevelt was formerly an administrative office building, transformed in recent years into a distinctive boutique property that fits right into the splendid surroundings of a city that for centuries was one of the most important metropolises of the Dutch Golden Age. It grew prosperous as a center of international trade, in particular the importation and subsequent distribution of wine throughout northern Europe; we shall revisit the attractions and appeal of Middelburg below. 

The Boutique Hotel Roosevelt comprises 28 guest rooms and suites, each one uniquely different in size and layout, in order to remain true to the original architecture of the building. By entering the website’s dedicated page devoted to the rooms’ descriptions, you may choose the exact individual unit you want – down to the color scheme and square footage – based on the most detailed information (including price previews) I have ever seen provided so vividly online by any property. 

Inside The Hotel Roosevelt

Another nice touch when you are already in the corridor is that a colorful photo of every room is affixed next to the door – which is opened and must be locked manually by an old-fashioned key, attached to a tasselled holder. The hefty keys may be left at the front desk when you go out – unless you plan to return after 10.30 p.m., when you will need it to open the hotel’s side door as well as your own, because the reception desk closes for the night.

This is not the only quirky phenomenon to keep in mind. The hotel has two wings, one of which has an elevator, while the rooms in the other are accessible only by a winding staircase. The spiral staircase itself, with its arched landings, is part of the stylish charm of the building — but do not hesitate to ask for help carrying up your luggage. The staff are very professional, always dispensing service with a smile.   

Naturally, while some rooms may be more fully furnished than others – for example, with freestanding bathtubs for two, complete with aromatic salts – even the most basic rooms at The Hotel Roosevelt come with all the modern conveniences: Nespresso coffee machine alongside an electric kettle for making tea, personal laptop-sized safe, a mini-fridge with see-through door, and satellite TV with Chromecast (Netflix, YouTube) streaming programming in multiple languages. Even the high-speed Internet access here – complimentary, of course – is in a league of its own, as each room has its own WiFi network.

A shower in The Hotel Roosevelt

The superb bathrooms here are an integral part of the room as a whole, while affording ideal privacy for couples. There are separate doors for the toilet – the fancy Japanese kind, no less, with temperature-controlled washing unit – as well as for the attractively and colorfully tiled spacious shower stall, with built-in multiple dispensers for amenities that are surprisingly pampering for such an ecologically conscious choice of apparatus.

It goes without saying that there are top-of-the-line hair dryers and make-up mirrors, but the plush bathrobes exceeded all expectations. The towels, too, are soft and abundantly plentiful.

There are no phones in the rooms, and thus no way of communicating with the front desk. We found this new development – like the lack of overnight on-site staffing – to be the new normal in Holland, apparently a consequence of this era of ubiquitous cellphones.A suite in The Hotel Roosevelt

After a night in one of the comfortable double or king-size beds in The Hotel Roosevelt, guests are treated to personalized breakfast service, included in the price of the room. You have a choice of seatings in the morning, and a lavish tray of goodies will be brought to your table, along with your freshly brewed coffee. You also are entitled to dish of eggs made to order, as well as refills of beverages and treats.

In the evenings, the hotel’s Lounge Wine and Dine is an intimate and relaxing place for a drink, as well as a place where one may order food – from light refreshment to a full dinner – or even a gourmet splurge featuring the region’s world-famous Eastern Scheldt lobster. 

Breakfast at The Hotel Roosevelt

In the warmer seasons of the year, one may enjoy libations and refreshment in the hotel’s garden, a tranquil and green oasis in a secluded patio. This al fresco area is also where The Hotel Roosevelt’s sauna and whirlpool are located; use of these facilities, subject to an extra charge, may be booked at the front desk.

Other facilities available with a surcharge are two rooms set aside for guests traveling with small pets, and a range of bicycles to choose from on a daily rental basis. Parking your own bicycle is free, as is short-term car parking (space permitting), but long-term or secure automobile parking is not included in room rates.

Patio of The Hotel Roosevelt

Finally, it is a perfectly fair question to ask: why come to Middelburg in the first place? After all, this is hardly the premier destination that comes to mind when planning a trip to the Netherlands. 

I’ll keep it short, and list my top three reasons to visit this charming city, where you can see the Abbey Square – one of Holland’s most impressive – and spend hours simply meandering the streets and banks of the canals, and visiting its many shops. 

First and foremost, gastronomy. As alluded to previously, Zeeland is rich in bounty from the water, thanks to its many inlets and coastline along the North Sea. In fact, it would be no exaggeration to argue that Zeeland could well be the seafood capital of Europe – not only for its renowned lobster, but also oysters, clams, mussels, turbot, and the list goes on. 

Secondly, there is Zeeuws Museum, a perfect gem that is unlike any you may have visited before. It is not one of those usual places, with paintings hung on the walls, but rather full of unexpected artifacts, ranging from wooly mammoth bones to Roman antiquities (yes, the Romans were here, too), and unusual works of art — from the world’s largest collection of tapestries depicting naval battles to huge, stunning wall hangings crafted entirely from seashells.  

Finally, there is the less tangible but hugely symbolic title of the City of the Four Freedoms, where this special awards ceremony is held every other year, alternating with New York. These fundamental freedoms, enunciated in the 1941 State of the Union address of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, are: Freedom of Speech/Expression; Freedom of Religion/Worship; Freedom from Want/Hunger; Freedom from Fear/War. 

Middelburg itself has exemplified these noble principles, such as when it welcomed Jews expelled from Portugal in the 16th century; Jewish visitors in particular will find much of interest in this city that deserves greater recognition.  

The Hotel Roosevelt

Published rates: Prices, adjusted seasonally, start at $134 for a double room or junior suite per day, or $150 for a duplex suite. There is one Presidential Suite starting at $197 per night, and four apartments stating at $199. All rates include breakfast. You can also check Booking.com to compare rates.

Text and photos by Buzzy Gordon, who was a guest of the hotel for purposes of review. Additional photos courtesy of The Hotel Roosevelt. Special thanks to the city of Middelburg and the Foundation for the Promotion of Eastern Scheldt Lobster for their roles in arranging my visit. 

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