Container living on Scheveningen Beach

Container living? It might sound dismal, but can actually be cool.

Surfdorp, Scheveningen beach

As you might know, I like quirky and unusual accommodations. So when I was given a chance to sleep in a shipping container, well, I couldn’t turn it down, could I…

Outside the Hague is Scheveningen, famous for its long sandy beach, its pier, its esplanade and its nudists.

Not unexpectedly, windsurfing and kiteboarding are very popular activities on these windy North Sea shores. That brings us to F.A.S.T. (Free Architecture Surf Terrain), a surf village and idealistic community on Scheveningen beach, created by surfers, for surfers.

With 50 hostel beds and a camping ground, F.A.S.T. offers an inexpensive place to sleep, eat, hang out, and, of course, surf. You can even learn how to build your own surfboard. F.A.S.T. also has meeting rooms for that slightly offbeat conference and the F.A.S.T. Theater, with performances from local artists in many genres: drama, music, cabaret, dance, and poetry readings. Films are projected on the side of a container. In some ways, it’s like a micro-nation.

I’m no surfer. In fact, I’m sure I’d spend way more time in the water than on the board. If that describes you, too, no worries. Lots of other things to do here, even of the sporting variety.

Biking on the beach is one option. You’ll need serious wheels for that, easily available from Lola Bikes and Coffee, a cool coffee (and bike) shop in the middle of The Hague.

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I rode my fat-bike from the Hague city centre out to – and on to – Scheveningen beach, along with three blogger friends, guided by this lovely man…

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…who in his day job is one of 12 police officers dedicated to fighting animal abuse in The Hague. (Huge kudos to the Netherlands!)

On this late May day, the rain was pelting, freezing rain. As I biked through town and onto the beach, the rain hit every inch of me, even inside my eyes, so I rode with alternate eyes closed. (It worked.) In the end, I was soaked through and through; every single piece of clothing was dripping wet. Despite that, the ride was very enjoyable.

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Container living on Scheveningen beach

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The brightly painted shipping containers are very simply furnished with bunk beds dormitory-style. Not my usual cup of tea, but I thought it’d be interesting to try. For something even more offbeat, it’s also possible to sleep in a life-saver capsule.

Now, I’m from a country where we snicker at gales and heckle contemptuously at below zero temperatures, haughtily pronouncing Det finnes ikke dårlig vær, bare dårlige klær (there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes – sounds better in Norwegian, it rhymes). But I must admit the freezing, wet weather put a damper on my F.A.S.T. experience. Getting soaked while biking in the rain is fine, as long as there’s a nice, warm room waiting at the end of it. There wasn’t.

The bed was comfortable enough, but a few essentials were missing from my container, such as hooks for hanging up wet clothes (and dry clothes for that matter). Fortunately, we were only two sharing the container, so we used the spare beds as drying lines. But despite keeping my clothes and shoes as close to the heater as I dared, everything was just as wet the next morning.

I decided one night was enough under the circumstances. Nevertheless, I liked Surfdorp and the philosophy behind it. In fact, I wouldn’t mind giving it another go. On a lovely summer day, the village would be a fun and unusual place to hang about outdoors, chatting, playing, listening to music – or to the soothing sound of the waves. And even surf.

Surfdorp, Scheveningen beach
The cafe

Practicals

Want to check out F.A.S.T.? Hostel prices start at €20, or €27,50 incl. breakfast. It’s also possible to camp for €15 per tent per night (max 2 people), or bring a camper for € 5 per meter per night. Electricity is € 5 per night for the camping and camper options. More information is available here. Have a look at the video (in Dutch, but with English subtitles).

Disclosure: At Scheveningen Beach and and in The Hague, I was a guest of Den Haag Marketing. As ever, I’m free to write about anything that takes my fancy (could be everything, could be nothing).

16 Responses to “Container living on Scheveningen Beach”

  1. Tricia 25 September 2013 0113 #

    What a cool place to visit! I would love to spend a night or two in a place like this just to enjoy the simplicity of it. I am sometimes a wimp though and when the weather is bad I want to shelter inside a cozy room (or tent.) I wonder if they have shipping container hostels like this elsewhere?
    Tricia recently posted..Camping in Button Bay State Park, Vermont

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch
      Anne-Sophie Redisch 29 September 2013 2019 #

      I shouldn’t be surprised. It’s a simple idea, really. Once you think of it, that is.

  2. Leigh 26 September 2013 0339 #

    If I were younger I’d be happy to give this spot a try. I do like the fact that they threw a window in to the container as I do like a little natural light. Sounds to me like you were a good sport on this trip Sophie.
    Leigh recently posted..Hiking the Coastal Trail in Pukaskwa National Park: Part I

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch
      Anne-Sophie Redisch 29 September 2013 2019 #

      I thought so :)

  3. Salika Jay 26 September 2013 0922 #

    Interesting accommodation option. And the price is right for budget travelers as well. But like you said, coming to the container room wet in the cold is not the ideal.
    Salika Jay recently posted..Travel Trends 2013 Infographic

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch
      Anne-Sophie Redisch 29 September 2013 2020 #

      Yes, very good price in this part of the world.

  4. Mary @ Green Global Travel 27 September 2013 1347 #

    Like you, I love exploring unusual accommodation and while it doesn’t always turn out to be amazing, I rarely leave less than thrilled that I gave it a shot and am happy to have a new story and experience to add to my repertoire! Thanks for sharing your lovely (if soggy) adventures in the Netherlands!

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch
      Anne-Sophie Redisch 29 September 2013 2021 #

      Thanks, Mary. You’re absolutely right. Things that aren’t all that much fun then and there, are usually the most memorable experiences.

  5. Mette 27 September 2013 1455 #

    There’s a cool container comune by the harbour in Copenhagen, but I’ve never slept in one.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch
      Anne-Sophie Redisch 29 September 2013 2022 #

      Interesting. And in the neighbourhood, too. Will have a look next time in Copenhagen.

  6. Andrea 29 September 2013 2137 #

    Never seen anything like this before!
    Andrea recently posted..A Romantic Weekend In San Antonio

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch
      Anne-Sophie Redisch 7 October 2013 1212 #

      Neither had I :)

  7. Joe 2 October 2013 0135 #

    Lovin’ this idea with the shipping containers. Just got back from Australia and there were loads of places where an idea like this would work perfectly

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch
      Anne-Sophie Redisch 7 October 2013 1213 #

      Would be cool in Byron, wouldn’t it…

  8. Sand In My Suitcase 8 October 2013 1215 #

    A container? Ummm. Very interesting… Perhaps the most similar accommodation we’ve slept in would be the Yotel in London’s Heathrow Airport, where you can book the hour (very useful for long layovers where you want a shower and a snooze).
    Sand In My Suitcase recently posted..Italy: Holidays with sparkle

  9. Nice post. Biking is really a great experience.

    Thanks for sharing your experience.
    Dhruv R Thaker@gujarat tourist places recently posted..Pavagadh – historical, religious gujarat tourist places

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