Amsterdam boasts some of Europe’s most charming boutique hotels. Several of the more delightful places to stay occupy handsome 17th-century mansions overlooking the city’s picturesque olive-green canals, but others are more modern in disposition, reflecting the Dutch love of innovative design.
Fancy a stay on an old dockland crane or in a refurbished tram depot? No problem. Amsterdam is packed with inventive boutiques, each offering a taste of the city’s quirky flavour. Amsterdam is a popular travel destination, so in all cases, booking well in advance is strongly advised.
Infinitely classy, but never brash, the elegant Ambassade has is a refined retreat from the hurly-burly of the city. The hotel occupies a series of tastefully renovated 17th-century canal houses in a prime location and, to add to the ambiance, pieces of modern art are distributed throughout the lounge and study. The guest rooms are decorated in an appealing period-meets-country-house style and breakfast is taken in the panelled dining room, where the merchant owners once surveyed the scene.
The Dylan’s website may stretch the point when it claims that the hotel is “Amsterdam’s best-kept secret”, as discerning visitors to the city have been congregating here for years. That said, there’s no disputing that this is one of Amsterdam’s most luxurious boutique hotels, its 41 immaculate guest rooms lodged within a graceful 17th-century building complete with courtyard and terrace. There is lavish attention to detail here that pleases all the senses, plus a superb Michelin-star restaurant, Vinkeles, in what was once the bakery.
This grand old hotel, with its fin-de-siècle flourishes, has a prime waterside location and prestigious boutique rooms, each featuring a replica of a Dutch Master recommended by the city’s leading art gallery, the Rijksmuseum. Opulence is key – there are rich colours and top-flight facilities, from Bose surround sound to iPod docking stations. Relax at the hotel’s Freddy’s Bar, one of Amsterdam’s smartest cocktail bars, from where you can watch the city stroll by.
Londoners may already be familiar with the Hoxton brand – there are three boutique hotels in the capital, and now there is one here in Amsterdam. The Dutch version, in a tastefully converted house on the Herengracht, continues the Hoxton tradition of crisp modern decor and an inviting lobby where locals and hotel guests meet to shoot the breeze. Lively and convivial, the hotel holds a gallery featuring the work of local artists and offers a cultural events programme. And you can relax in your room knowing that the minibar prices are the same as the local supermarket. Three cheers for that.
One of Amsterdam’s most distinctive hotels, the Lloyd occupies a large rambling building in the eastern docklands, a short tram ride from the city centre. Curiously, the premises once housed prisoners on remand and then refugees – some of the guest rooms still have barred windows – but the whole lot has been imaginatively reinvented in a spick and span modern style. The hotel has become something of an arts hub, too, offering exhibitions, readings and performances in an expansive lobby that encourages guests to mix and share.
This lavish, medium-sized boutique hotel is converted from a pair of elegant old canal houses, one of which was once home to the Dutch prime minister. Cross the hotel threshold and you are soon sucked into a different world, for this is retro chic to all-encompassing effect: period details like the marble fireplaces jostle with the vivid, velvet wallpaper while lush fabrics in purple, red, black and gold abound. The bar and breakfast room is similarly sumptuous, inviting you to sink into a sofa and unwind.
No one was quite sure what to do with the old tram depot in Amsterdam West, but the new owners had a brainwave, converting it into a boutique hotel. Imaginatively, many of the key features of the depot have been preserved – from the vaulted glass ceiling through to the rails in the dining-room floor – and the place has a really lively buzz. The hotel’s 50-odd modern rooms and suites are spread over two floors around a spacious atrium.
The four Amsterdam boutique hotels under the Conscious banner must surely be a signpost to the future, and their eco-conscious, sustainable credentials are a welcome development. Of the four, the Conscious Hotel Museum Square, near the Rijksmuseum, is perhaps the best located and claims to be 100 percent sustainable: the desks are made out of recycled yoghurt pots, there are ergonomic beds, the breakfasts are organic and there’s a living plant wall by the reception. An enjoyable place to stay – and one to ease your environmental conscience.
For something completely different, Amsterdam offers the rare chance to sleep up an old crane in the former docklands that lie a quick ferry ride from the centre on the north side of the River IJ. In an extraordinary, award-winning conversion, the crane now holds three brightly decorated, deluxe suites perched at various levels up the crane, as well as a heated spa pool near the base. What’s more, if you want more high-flying excitement, you can even book a bungee jump.