We’re back from a short sojourn in the Dutch capital. TLE loves Amsterdam, its buzzing, creative vibe; the romantic historic canal district; the fab shops and eccentric boutiques; the cool restaurants; and of course her 5 star hotels.
This time we got to stay at one the city’s ‘Grand Dames’ hotels – the iconic De L’Europe Amsterdam, found in an exceptional location, right on the Amstel river, and within walking distance to all the riches of the canal belt.
The beautiful, historic Rondeel Building provides the classic setting for this luxury riverside hotel that offers extravagant guests suites; a two Michelin stars restaurant ‘Bord’Eau’; a Skins Institute spa; an informal riverside brasserie; and the signature ‘Freddy’s Bar’, named after the late Alfred Henry “Freddy” Heineken (since this property is owned by the Heineken brewing family).
L’Europe has the distinguished ambiance of a genuine grand hotel … and we rather liked it!
The canals of Amsterdam are iconic – when visiting the Dutch capital who doesn’t dream of staying in a property overlooking the water? Well, at the De L’Europe Amsterdam that’s a reality, since the hotel is right there in the canal area, the quintessential Amsterdam district of 17th and 18th century gabled merchant’s houses. What’s more the water almost surrounds you – the hotel feels like it is on in own little peninsula.
Access into the historic centre is fairly easy from Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport. It takes around 35 minutes by taxi. Alternatively, one can take the train from the airport to Amsterdam’s Central Station which is 15 minutes’ walk away from the hotel. Once at the hotel the main visitor attractions are within walking (or cycling!) distance, including the Anne Frank House, the Concertgebouw concert hall, as well as the world class cultural institutions of Rijksmuseum National Gallery, Van Gogh Museum and the Hermitage Museum.
This is most definitely an elegant hotel, with plenty of old school glamour. Recently De L’Europe acquired the adjacent building, a former bank, and incorporated this into the hotel, joined by a contemporary glass atrium. The new part of the hotel, known as the Dutch Masters Wing, offers an additional 23 well-proportioned guest suites – each strikingly decorated with an oversized print of classic Dutch Masters art from the nearby Rijksmuseum’s outstanding collection. The original Rondeel building has 88 rooms and suites including its stand-out 6 bedroom signature suite.
Thanks to the tie-in with the Rijksmuseum the main Promenade Lobby Bar is also decorated with vast canvasses of Dutch Masters – a place favoured by residents for Afternoon Tea. The overall feel is sophisticated, elegant and refined.
Check-in & Welcome
Reception was quiet when I arrived and my room was ready, despite it being around noon. The guest relations manager, Jaqueline met me and took me to my room, and explained all the features and facilities.
The hotel has two types of guest room (Deluxe and Premium) and five suite types (Junior, Deluxe One Bedroom, Prestige One Bedroom, Provocateur Suite, and finally Signature Suites).
I had been given a Junior Suite in the Rondeel Building – with the privilege of a terrace balcony overlooking the river and the period architecture of the city. Sadly some rainy Dutch weather greeted me, so I was unable to fully enjoy the terrace, but it was a joy to throw open the doors and see and hear the city activity on the water.
The large room (about 50 square metres) was specially equipped for guests with disabilities, so had a few additional features that would not apply to all rooms. (For example the wide entrance door opened outwards; the bathroom was equipped with an electrically adjustable wash basin and vanity that could be raised and lowered; and there were grab rails by the bath and W.C. The additional facilities had clearly been well thought out).
Despite being a junior suite, the rest of the design and features reflected what one might expect in the rest of the hotel’s classic Rondeel rooms. Since this was in the classic building, instead of a Grand Master dominating the room, the walls were covered in bespoke, designer wall paper.
At the foot of the king bed (which had a super-comfy COCO-MAT mattress, as well a large French style and standard British style pillows) was a unit that housed the TV that could be electrically raised or discretely folded away. Lighting was sophisticated with various sources for different moods. At night it could be set to motion sensitive, so night lights would switch on from your side of the bed if you got up to go to the loo.
The designer writing desk had a selection of international electrical sockets – a thoughtful touch – as well as an iPad offering info on the hotel, such as spa details, room service options etc., city information and of course internet access.
The free Wi-Fi was swift – in my mind this is an absolute essential in upscale hotels, so it was great to have fast internet.
The ample wardrobe space housed the requisite 5 star standards; a full mini bar, a Nespresso coffee machine, kettle and gourmet teas, an elegant branded umbrella; digital safe big enough for a laptop (it’s equipped with a charging socket), and amenities like shoe mitt and sewing kit.
In addition to the separate W.C. there was a bathroom with heated floor, large bathtub, twin wash basins, standalone shower and W.C. The amenities are bespoke for the hotel, by Blaise Mautin – very classy and plenty of them. There were abundant towels too in the bathroom – it all added up to a feeling of luxury in the room.
Maid service is twice a day, with an impeccably executed turndown service early evening that includes mineral water.
This was all the more important as mineral water was not provided in the room upon arrival – my mantra is that ‘water and Wi-Fi are the essentials of life’. Here, if you want to quench your thirst after check-in you have to buy it from the mini bar.
Also, the in-room music technology was out-dated. The hotel was quick to advise me that next year will see a major investment in the latest Bluetooth and wireless technology installed in all guest suites. In the meantime the Bose system is really only useful for guests that have iPods with the old style connector, or for guests that bring CDs. If you have an Android device or an Apple device with a lightening connector you can’t enjoy the sound system – which is a shame as has speakers embedded through-out the suite and bathroom.
Red wine and chocolate – what can I say? Fabulous. A half bottle of Bordeaux with artisan chocolates, together with some orchids were set out to greet me. That’s the perfect welcome gift for me!
Hotel De L’Europe has its own destination restaurant, the acclaimed, fine-dining Bord’Eau – but it was closed when I visited, so I wasn’t able to indulge, under the pretext of reviewing it – sadly. There is also an informal dining option, the Hoofdstad Brasserie with its on-trend open kitchen.
This is also where breakfast is served. There is a terrace for summer and for the rest of the year it’s possible to eat inside with a view of the water.
I had breakfast at a bar positioned within a large bay window – a comfortable place to eat as a solo traveller. I met a Japanese couple sitting next to me; one was an artist and between bites he created a stunning water colour of the historic building opposite. I may not have such talents, but I have always considered myself a good eater, and devouring breakfasts in 5 star establishments is becoming a speciality. So it was disappointing that the Hoofdstad Brasserie really lacked the ‘wow’ factor for me. Typically in upscale hotels the humble breakfast is elevated to a feast of the senses – where even the mundane is presented in a way that seduces. Yet that wasn’t the case at Hotel De L’Europe. Overall presentation was average. For example, a standard selection of breads was offered in baskets beside one of those commercial toasters that never really toasted very well. Slate platters of cheese and cold cuts together with some juices etc. There was a very limited selection of treats too – surely one of the great pleasures of staying in a 5 star hotel is to eat cake for breakfast? Not much choice here…
There is a menu for ordering from the kitchen. I ordered poached eggs – they arrived with efficiency and were well prepared but presented without any thought or finesse – no garnish – just two eggs on a white plate.
Rest of the Hotel
In addition to the two restaurants there is an all-weather terrace café.
The bar is very cool, with an art deco style – adjacent is a classic smoking cigar room.
The luxe spa has a small pool and fitness room. .
The hotel boasts a Golden Key/ Clefs D’Or concierge, and understandably the hotel offers premium services such as personal shopping, limo service, and private canal tours from the hotels own jetty.
This is undoubtedly a beautiful, grand hotel and I look forward to seeing the new enhancements planned for 2016.
Deluxe rooms start from 440 euros. As is often the case in Amsterdam’s top hotels, breakfast is not always included in the room rate.
Address: Nieuwe Doelenstraat 2-14, 1012 CP Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Tel: +31 (0)20 531 17 7
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