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From our Hidden Treasures series

Hotel Lundenbergsand
Hotel Lundenbergsand

Most visitors to Germany never get north of Frankfurt, and even fewer venture above Hamburg to Schleswig-Holstein, a thick neck of mostly flat ground that divides the Baltic from the North Sea. It is a breezy land of thatched roofed houses, clean air, and big skies; a different sort of landscape, a different sort of architecture. Motoring south late one afternoon from Denmark on federal road #5, about an hour or so north of the port city of Husum, it was time to find a place to stay.

From Michelin's excellent 500 Charming Hotels and Inns, we selected a couple of prospects that fit our requirements: quiet, country, restaurant, and about €100 for a double room. Though calls via our tri-band GSM mobile phone drew a "fully booked" response from the Holländische Stube in Friedrichstadt, we hit paydirt at the Hotel Lundenbergsand in Simonsberg. A double room for one night would be €95.

The Sea, The Sea

This is sparsely populated country, and after leaving the main road, the route to the hotel turned into a series of almost deserted narrow dike roads. Fortunately, there are discrete signs to the hotel. Set in a copse of trees, the snow-white Lundenbergsand backs up to the 30-foot high dike that protects it from the sea. Dormer windows peek from a massive, steeply-pitched thatched roof.

Other than its coziness, the interior décor is a bit of a change from the stereotypical small Germany hotel. The overall feeling, in fact, is somewhat nautical. The combination reception area/stube/dining/breakfast room is done in a muted green, accented with green Delft tiles. On the walls are a ship's wheel, pictures of ships and thatched roof farmhouses, and raised inscriptions in what we presume is an ancient Frisian language. Oil lamps hang over each table.

Room Number 11, reached via a stairway off the public room, is compact and spare but comfortable enough for a stay of two or three nights. There is a white wooden bed, a table and two chairs, a small TV, furrowed sisal carpeting, stripped wallpaper, a painted wood ceiling edged in white molding, pictures of boats and flowers, and a chest-high window. The latter affords a long, peaceful view of sky, hedges, waving grasses, and wheeling birds. The bathroom has adequate space and lighting and one of those after-the-fact, add-on corner shower enclosures.

Dinner in the stube – there was also a more formal dining area – featured ample portions of good but not great food. Predictably, the menu includes a preponderance of seafood selections. Chunks of grilled and fried North Sea fish comprised the Kapitansteller (€15.9) and baked Scholle (€15.9) was fairly massive and halibut-like. Shared starters of grilled Garnelen (shrimp) and a salad cost €8.50 and €2.80. The price of a 0.4 liter glass of Königpilsener was €2.90. Without beverages, we paid €49.9 for dinner for two with dessert.