Amsterdamâ€™s booming hotel scene continues to turn heads. Here are three newcomers that Netherlands-bound travelers will want to check in to.
By Chris Kirkpatrick
Occupying a 19th-century bank turned music conservatory in Amsterdamâ€™s museum quarter, the 129-room Conservatorium hits all the right notes. A striking two-year renovation by Milanese designer Piero Lissoni has restored the neo-Gothic landmarkâ€™s original teakwood floors, Art Deco tiling, and brickwork, while adding a soaring glass-enclosed courtyard that houses the cityâ€™s most enticing lobby lounge and an attached brasserie. Guest quarters come in 14 different configurationsâ€”many are double-height duplexesâ€”and offer a demure, minimalist counterpoint to the fin de siĂ¨cle architecture: walls of latte-colored glass; Zen-like bathrooms clad in creamy travertine; designer furnishings and handpicked objets that range from African masks to Delft porcelain. One attic-space suite comes with a spiral staircase that leads up to a rooftop terrace with wraparound views of the Oud Zuid district. Thereâ€™s a sexy subterranean spa and gym with hammam rooms, a watsu pool, and a swimming pool drenched in luminous blue light, as well as an excellent dining room, Tunes, helmed by acclaimed Dutch chef Schilo van Coevorde. The location is also a plus for culture buffs and serious shoppers: P.C. Hooftstraat, a stretch of high-end boutiques (HermĂ¨s, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, et al.), is just a short stroll away, as are three of the cityâ€™s top art institutionsâ€”the Stedelijk Museum, the Van Gogh Museum, and the recently renovated Rijksmuseum (27 Van Baerlestraat; 31-20/670-1811; conservatoriumhotel.com; doubles from US$378).
A tram ride to the southeast in the bohemian De Pijp neighborhood, Sir Albert is another historical conversion, in this case of an 1895 diamond factory that cut its last gemstone in the 1990s. Now a design-driven four-star hotel designed by Tel Aviv firm BK Architecture, the red-brick building has 90 subdued rooms fitted with tall brown curtains, cowhide chairs, and distressed Egyptian carpets over black-stained wooden floors, with Molton Brown toiletries in the glass-walled bathrooms. Service is a point of pride here: ask, and the concierge staff will arrange a concert ticket, park your car, lend you an iPad, or pick you up a hefty Angus beef burger from The Butcher burger bar down the street, which also leads to the bustling Albert Cuypmarkt, Amsterdamâ€™s largest outdoor market (fear not, Sir Albertâ€™s rooms are well soundproofed). But who wants room service when you have a sublime canal-side Japanese grill restaurant at your doorstep? Izakaya, headed up by former Nobu chef Hariprasad Shetty, brings a hint of South America to its menu of exquisitely plated robata and sushi dishes: standouts (and there are many) include a pan-fried scallop dressed with yuzu and truffle oil, Dover sole in a red-shisho salsa, and grilled unagi with foie gras and finely diced apple in balsamic (2â€“6 Albert Cuypstraat; 31-20/305-3020; siralberthotel.com; doubles from US$273).
Hyatt entrusted visionary Dutch designer Marcel Wanders with the fitting out of the latest addition to its stylish Andaz brand, and the results are unlike anything else in the city. There is, for starters, no formal reception desk: guests are greeted by iPad-toting hosts under a fabulously muraled light well, offered a drink in the buzzy lounge, and then escorted to their room for check-in. Despite the buildingâ€™s original use (as a public library) and the Golden Age splendor of its setting on Prinsengracht canal, inside, itâ€™s all eye-popping and outlandish, with curiosity cabinets, video installations, lipstick-red tulip chairs, giant bell-shaped chandeliers, and an â€śAlice in Amsterdamâ€ť feel that carries out to a back garden dotted with whimsical topiary and sculptures. All 122 rooms feature nautical motifs and fish prints that pay cheeky homage to Hollandâ€™s heyday as a maritime power, as well as washbasins hand-painted in Wandersâ€™ signature â€śOne-Minute Delft Blueâ€ť style. Bluespoon, the sole restaurant, is almost low-key by comparison, with the emphasis instead on seasonal farm-to-table foodâ€”a braised veal cheek is served with crispy sweetbreads, while caramelized red onions and ratatouille accessorize a dry-aged tomahawk steak (587 Prinsengracht 587; 31-20/523-1234; amsterdam.prinsengracht.andaz.hyatt.com; doubles from US$400).
This article originally appeared in the August/September 2013 issue of DestinAsian.