A quick air hop from the UK, the Netherlands has some of the most accessible cities for a break. Built on reclaimed land, the capital’s network of concentric canals is UNESCO listed. And as the home of Rembrandt and Anne Frank, it’s packed with art, culture and history. Hear its stories, see its museums, cruise its waterways and cycle through its streets – there are as many bikes as people here. The Dutch capital offers some eccentric accommodation styles – many of which revolve around its waterways – alongside a number of exquisite five-star hotels. Book one of these for your next trip to Amsterdam.
This used to be the HQ of a charity and an almshouse, but post-millennium took on new life as a boutique hotel. It’s set back from the street, and entered via a peaceful courtyard, so guests instantly feel a sense of calm, exclusivity and elegance on arrival. The design is contemporary but fused with old-world charm, peppered with international antiques and oriental accents. Its 40 bedrooms are contained in two canalside buildings within the city’s shopping quarter. Meals are served in the Vinkeles restaurant (previously the house’s bakery) or the more relaxed Occo Brasserie. The vibe here is very grown-up, so best suited to adult travellers.
Seven One Seven
A converted canal-house, Seven One Seven sits at the heart of Amsterdam’s action. And it offers a distinctly homely experience, akin to being hosted as an aristocratic house guest, rather than a tourist. You won’t see a reception desk, restaurant or bartender here, rather a discreet domestic staff who’ll cater to your every need (including food and drinks) in a more bespoke fashion. Public areas come in the form of a drawing-room, library and breakfast room, in addition to the nine bedrooms. The back of the mansion dates all the way to the 17th century, with the frontage having been added in the early 19th.
If you prefer large scale fashionable luxury, the 238 bedroom W will suit you. One of its buildings is a former telephone exchange, the other a bank. But in contrast to many of the city’s competitors, it eschews vintage in favour of contemporary furnishings. Bright rooms include espresso machines and funky Marshall sound systems. Its rooftop lounge is a defining feature, the place to party and sip cocktails with a view. Or descend to the moodily lit, subterranean spa, hidden behind a large vaulted door. W has three restaurants, Mr Porter, The Butcher and The (Michelin-starred) Duchess.
Containing a carved spiral staircase by Louis XVI’s architect and 17th-century artworks, the Waldorf Astoria in Amsterdam is a positively decadent architectural wonder. Add to this a multi-award-winning Guerlain spa with a swimming pool, your own personal concierge and a two Michelin starred restaurant and you’ll soon be living like a VIP. Its 93 bedrooms are housed in a collection of six 17th and 18th-century palaces on the UNESCO protected ‘Gentlemen’s Canal’. As such you’ll find plenty of grand period features, like beamed ceilings and original fireplaces.
Found in the Museum Square district, this was once a musical institution – a heritage reflected in its title and ongoing collaborations. The Conservatorium was named the finest luxury hotel in Holland by Condé Nast, with Art Noveau interiors created by award-winning Milan-based designer Piero Lissoni. The lauded Akasha Holistic Wellbeing Centre offers everything from nutrition therapy, to meditation, to Watsu and has what is arguably the best-equipped gym in the city. Following the hotel’s subtle Asian influence, is Taiko, the dining experience and bar, where flavour, aroma and texture reign. Book a room, suite, duplex, or even your own wing.
Hotel De L’Europe
Erected in 1896, De L’Europe sits beside the Amstel River on the site of a late medieval fortress. State-of-the-art technology, local heritage and classic design are melded into a five-star style. Elite suites are housed in the Dutch Masters Wing, named after the nation’s illustrious painters and with its own private entrance. The hotel is partnered with the Rijksmuseum, displaying fine art replicas from the likes of Rembrandt and Frans Hals. Haute cuisine is served in the critically acclaimed Bord’Eau restaurant, with alfresco summer dining at Hèt Terras. Freddy’s Bar mixes some of the best Bloody Marys in Amsterdam. And there’s a 4,300-square-foot Le Spa by Skins Institute, with a canalside indoor pool.
Sofitel Legend The Grand Amsterdam
The wellness centre here was voted the Netherlands’ Best Hotel Spa of 2020 and rooms come with Hermès branded products. The building itself has served many purposes as an ex-city hall, monastery, royal lodge and Admiralty. Inside, French interiors by Sybille de Margerie, complement an Art Deco extension and grand features dating back, in parts, to the 16th century. Dinner and organic wines are served in the Bridges restaurant, or garden bistro, with afternoon teas in the library lounge. Do take advantage of a local tour on the Sofitel’s private salon boat, horse-drawn carriage or one of its bicycles – a highlight of any stay here.
No less than 25 linked canal houses make up the entirety of this 225 bedroom hotel. The contemporary bistro, Jansz, and casual restaurant Pause, both have large picture windows, so diners can take in the passing on-water activity from morning till night. The Pulitzer Old Fashioned (a pineapple twist on the original) is a favourite in the hotel’s vintage era bar. And a trip on the Pulitzer’s own teak salon boat is a must. Small dogs and children are welcomed, as are cyclists – you’ll find a puncture repair kit in every room, along with trendy Le Labo products.