A stamp of approval for sleeping and musing in a small and attractive post office
“A letter always seemed to me like immortality because it is the mind alone without corporeal friend,” wrote Emily Dickinson.
One of the few possessions I truly treasure most is a red velvet box containing all the dearest letters I have ever received.
As a child, I thought there was nothing more exciting than getting letters on thin blue airmail paper from my dad, who had a long career as an international sea captain (this may explain my fascination for all things wild at sea).
Later I would love to get letters from my boyfriend at the other side of the country and just lose me in the honesty of his handwriting.
So, the thought of falling asleep in a former post office charmed me and got me making plans for another hiking weekend through the Veluwe.<<link naar outdoor bliss Veluwe wandeling>>
‘Het Oude Postkantoor’ is a listed heritage building, converted into an intimate boutique B&B with six rooms, all of which are named after and linked to former postal activities.
For the love of old tiles
As soon as you enter the foyer, you feel the love, the love for all things ‘letters’. Do not expect a common reception area as you enter the tiny lobby, instead 'The Old Post Office' is written in a tile mosaic that will freak out all tile lovers. On the wall hangs a bright red vending machine that exchanged quarters and dimes against postcards and stamps. An old postman uniform hangs from the coat rack. The host has added to the charm with all these quirky, welcoming elements but don’t be mistaken, all is thoughtfully incorporated as he clearly doesn’t want this gem to be a postal museum.
Luxurious and cozy rooms are created where the sorting room, canteen, telephone exchange and desk used to be.
Once one of the two outside doors of the hotel led to a portal with a pay phone, the other to the room with mailboxes.
We opted for a very spacious room with its separate entrance via the old post office front door. In ‘De wachtkamer’ - or the former public waiting room – you can still find the original floor (Norwegian slate), an antique bath, the toilet is hidden in the former in-house telephone booth, double sinks, a shower, bathrobes, magazines and contemporary art. The room has box-spring beds and a flat-screen TV (for those who care).
In summer, you can sit out on the rooftop deck, read while overviewing the tiny village church or you could access the secluded courtyard via the old loading ramp.
Breakfast is served in the ‘Bestellerszaal’; the vast hall where the post used to be sorted just before distribution. High ceilings, wooden floors, and gorgeous light add to the soothing atmosphere of this room. Browsing through the daily newspaper while enjoying coffee or tea is a moment of serenity just before venturing out and getting surprised by the occasional rain shower.
Brummen is situated along the sparkling river Ijssel and the Hanseatic towns of Doesburg and Zuthpen: beautiful old city centres less than 10 kilometres away. During the Hanseatic period, merchants from Zutphen transported herring, butter and beer to other Hanseatic cities. This is when the town boasted forty breweries, one of which is left: Stadsbrouwerij Cambrinus.
Het Oude Postkantoor is only a brisk walk away from the pound where a small ferry leads you to Bronkhorst (outdoor bliss wandeling link) – the smallest town of the Netherlands – where you can explore the countryside and the tiny historic alleys.
But most importantly Brummen is situated on the edge of the Veluwe, the biggest natural park of the Netherlands where you can hike or bike (more than 40km of dedicated bike roads) for hours through silent forests and heath without seeing another soul.
Let’s re-instore the art of reconnecting
Back to our weekend: after a long hike in the rain the relaxing soak in the vintage bath – beyond being pleasant – also made me reflect on how letters have supported people during times that matter. Letters and all things postal basically keep relationships alive. They allow us to keep a real connection to what matters most by bridging conflicts or new opportunities.
But there is even more, a lot of care taking and thoughts go into letter-writing; it’s all about seeing and choosing a card, a type of paper, a tiny notebook, …sparked by the very thought of a person. Very often I hear people babbling about disconnecting; it always leaves me smiling and wondering. I am convinced that more than ever we do not need to wish upon the act of disconnecting; it is about time we re-instore the art of reconnecting: the culture of letter-writing is an easy yet significant step to get there. If you doubt about it or find it hard to grasp the range of emotions letter-writing can evoke; book yourself a weekend at the xxx. Spending some days in this former post office will leave you with the conviction that letters can convey emotions in an unbeatable and unforgettable way.
Or in the meanwhile get lost in one of my favourite books ‘Letters of Note’ by Shaun Usher - a collection of one hundred and twenty-five of the world's most entertaining, inspiring and unusual letters, based on the seismically popular website of the same name.