The First Flickers of Fall: Huys Van Leyden, Leiden, Netherlands

Deserts don’t seem particularly hospitable these days. Gov. Brown has declared our region a “tinderbox,” Barbara’s Lake in Laguna has been reduced to a broad expanse of cracked earth, and we’ll be lucky if a single acre of South Coast desert chaparral survives the summer. Just last month another “xeric shrubland”—in Iran, different hemisphere but the same latitude as Orange County—endured a 115-degree day with a dew point of 90 degrees, amounting to an apocalyptic heat index of 163 degrees. We know we should be recommending a final summer fling on a tropical beach, but we can’t bear the thought of more hot sand. So here’s to cool, damp air, dappled sun on calm waters, and the first flickers of fall.

lV4394ItKQCIC_uQrfxAeCaD5ayoT0OeHHGmG-bZS9gHuys Van Leyden, Leiden, Netherlands

This is Europe, but not blockbuster Europe: There is nothing like the Coliseum in Leiden, nor is there a Versailles. But really, who cares? You’ll be sitting in a serene biergarten alongside one of the meandering, tree-lined canals, Vermeer’s pale, watery sunlight filtering through the branches. The birthplace of Rembrandt remains a pleasantly human-scale, almost sleepy, genteel university town with few tourists (they prefer to remain in Amsterdam). The Huys van Leyden, a 400-year-old building converted into a five-room boutique hotel, distills Leiden’s charms—and Dutch aesthetics—perfectly with white-washed walls, sumptuous bedding, and light-filled rooms. Worth noting: Because the Huys Van Leyden is a protected monument, there is no elevator. Rates begin at $117; visit for more information. 

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