Amsterdam is booming; and accommodation options for business and leisure travellers are getting ever more varied.
Earlier this year, the boutique Pillows Anna van den Vondel Hotel opened its doors. This flagship property of the brand’s fresh ‘new-look’promises to lull its guests into a relaxed state with an intimate style and calming interior design. What’s more, the innovative ground floor lobby bar, restaurant and lounge offers a comforting, home-from-home. So we packed our carry-on and popped over to Amsterdam to find out more, writes Andrew Forbes.
My ride from the airport was a sleek, elegant and thoroughly high-tech Tesla S; yet my destination most definitely had an old-school look. Lining the quiet street of Anna van den Vondelstraat are a row of three historic 19th century properties. These upscale mansion houses are of classic red brick, with that charming patina that only comes with age, accented with white period stone work and balconies.
The hotel is close to Vondelpark, probably Amsterdam’s most well-known green space – and one can walk to Amsterdam’s world-class Van Gogh Museum, and Rijksmuseum museums. Expect an airport transfer of 30 minutes’ or less.
Welcome & Check-in
As the ornate wooden front door swung open I was greeted with the welcoming aroma of rosemary and eucalyptus from a large scented candle. Ahead of me were steep stairs leading to a classic period spiral staircase; whilst to the left the entrance to the main house.
…the house rules are that there are no rules – it’s your home-from-home
There isn’t a classic reception desk; instead the ground floor area is open-plan and called ‘The Living’. There is an intimate seating area with an open fire, which is wood-panelled, echoing the period architecture of the property.
In the adjacent space is a long table decorated with just a vase of tall, architectural stems, a sleek laptop – here a team member greets guests. Check-in is digital and quickly executed whilst one is relaxing in one of the plush easy chairs.
The style and ambiance is elegant, understated with muted tones of greys and blues on the walls. Overall it has a light and contemporary feel, whilst incorporating some period elements. Herringbone wooden floors add warmth, contrasting with the uncluttered, almost minimalist décor.
There are 31 guest rooms across the interconnected houses. All rooms share the same design approach (‘less-is-more’ minimalism, with quality wooden furniture, designer lighting, large flatsrceen TVs, Bluetooth audio etc.), yet have varied sizes and shapes, as one might expect in a historic building.
I had a quick peek at a few other rooms, from the wonderful Grand Deluxe Room, with its lofty ceilings and original roof timbers; to the Pillows Suite, the largest guest room at 42 square metres – it boasts a decent sized bathroom with tub.
The regular rooms are compact – so be aware that if you are two people travelling together with luggage you will probably need a ‘medium’ or ‘large’ room at least. Think New York City room sizes – not much cat-swinging potential. Also, for light sleepers, bare in mind that some rooms face the street, or are close to the stairs. My room had double-glazed windows and was in a quiet corridor, so I slept well.
I was staying in a ‘Luxury Room Middle’ with two large double windows that opened to a French Balcony overlooking the street. The space was modest at around 17 square metres, but was well designed – and the light walls, and large windows gave a sensation of more space.
It featured a very comfortable queen bed with great linens, with night stands, upon which was a little notebook and pencil, both in duck egg blue.
There was a good sized wardrobe that also housed the gourmet mini bar (well-stocked with upscale snacks and drinks) and a Nespresso machine, and kettle. There was a vintage style Tivoli radio that provided Bluetooth streaming audio.
Some homemade chocolate was a welcoming gesture in the room.
The bathroom made the most of the limited available space with a single vanity, large walk in shower and heated towel rail. Bespoke eucalyptus and rosemary amenities were in duck-egg blue, harmonising with the subtle blue grey tone of the walls and the warm blue of the plush seating.
The accommodation was comfortable and well-appointed, yet not overly spacious. So, it’s not the kind of space where you may want to spend a lot of time. So that’s where The Living comes in. This open-plan sociable dining and relaxation area has one entire wall of windows overlooking the hotel’s city garden.
…the ‘clockless’ dining approach is ideal for jet-lagged travellers
This light-filled, contemporary area is where one can kick back and relax as if one was at home. There is a small kitchen that serves the dining area – 24 hours. It felt a little like being a guest in a private house; you could nip down and see what’s available to eat. This ‘clockless’ dining approach is ideal for jetlagged business travellers or post-clubbing weekenders craving a club sandwich in the small hours – or anyone really who doesn’t want to be told what time to eat.
Swish banquette seating wrapped around one corner, whilst the rest of the tables had pastel green Italian style chairs.
The sofas and seating of the lounge areas were ideal for an informal business meeting or for getting some work done.
For getting the evening started, enjoy a cocktail in the garden, or a Dutch beer by the fireplace. Basically, the house rules are that there are no rules – it’s your home-from-home.
The concept is appealing, as it’s relaxed, and informal and in my experience the team were professional and helpful. The décor is stylish and upscale, with hard back books on the shelves (although a few of the decorative items like vases and bowls on the shelves weren’t that sophisticated – I would have preferred to have seen more fresh flowers or pieces of art instead).
Typically, room rates do not include breakfast. For around 25 euro one can enjoy a table service breakfast, Fresh fruit, pastries and Greek yoghurt with muesli are brought to the table with freshly made coffee. Then one can order a hot plate; if you are still peckish then help yourself to the small buffet of gourmet bites, such a cheese, hams, and cakes.
The Anna van den Vondel conveys a relaxed, calm ambiance, within authentic surroundings. Location is attractive for culture vultures, and the 24-hour services of The Living are innovative – plus there’s something rather special about staying in an historic mansion house in such a lovely street. One felt cocooned from the urban bustle of the city.
The Pillows Anna van den Vondel Hotel promises the best deal online from its website, with the chance of a free upgrade.
Pillows Anna van den Vondel
Anna van den Vondelstraat 6
1054 GZ Amsterdam
Tel: + 31 20 683 30 13