Amsterdam Travel Guide
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The uber-eco friendly Element Amsterdam is wonderfully--or dangerously--close to a shopping mall, but you can still feel good about "going green" while spending some green.
Starwood Hotels & Resorts is bringing two of its design-driven brands to one of Europe’s hippest cities, with Element Amsterdam and W Amsterdam both opening next year. Here’s the latest on these upcoming hotels. Just two more reasons to love Amsterdam.
Generator Amsterdam: the 1950 look
Don’t you just love it when people keep a secret? No, us neither, but luckily the folks at Generator Hostels aren't too good at it, because we have news just in time for the weekend – Generator is opening in Amsterdam next year.
“Why, aren’t they already opening elsewhere in 2015?” you might say. Congrats – yes, they’re opening Paris and Rome. But as any young American who’s crossed the pond will know, no grand tour of Europe is complete without a pitstop (just enough time to inhale) in Amsterdam.
Boiler Room Bar
Generator Amsterdam will take over a gorgeous, grand brick building near the Oosterpark (15 minutes from Dam Square), which was built in 1917 as a university building (first science, then zoology). But they’ll top it with two glass-walled floors to squeeze in 566 guests in 168 ensuite twin and quad rooms – plus an all-out lux self-catering apartment that can sleep six.
The project will have the most public areas of any Generator (perfect for, uhh, striking up conversation with other Amsterdam enthusiasts), all beautifully repurposed: a bar in the old lecture hall, a basement dining room and secret bar(!) in the boiler room, a relaxation-area-cum-meeting-room in the library, plus a café with park-facing terrace in the main entrance area.
It’s too early for any more pictures than this, but Generator promises the style will be “characteristic Generator” mixed with Dutch inspiration – no, not spliffs, but tulips, Delft pottery, and those famous never-ending landscapes.
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Having walked by and peered through the windows at Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam on a number of occasions, we finally had a chance to look inside the six 17th and 18th century canal houses on the city’s Herengracht that were converted into the hotel.
That included these beautiful sculptures, part of a rather pretty staircase with skylight inside the "Marot" house at number 548, now the main entrance of the hotel. The six houses were cobbled together to offer 93 rooms and suites and a host of other facilities, including an unusually large and private garden, all opened just shy of two months ago.
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Looks like the order in which Waldorf Astoria’s latest hotels are coming across the opening finish line is Beijing – Jerusalem – Amsterdam in the end. A few months ago, when we doubted Amsterdam would be completed by March, the official word was still exactly the other way around, but Beijing is open (pretty parasols and all), Jerusalem caught us by surprise by being ready a few months’ early (though there is very limited view of what it’s like inside yet), and Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam is now scheduled for May 1.
Spread across six historic town houses that date back to the 1600s on one of the city’s central canals, the hotel will have 93 rooms and suites. The restaurant still awaits its name, but there will be the usual Peacock Alley, in this case on the Bel Etage, the principal floor of the town house accessed by a grand staircase from the entrance. Other things to look forward to are the private garden, the indoor swimming pool, and the Vault Bar, taking advantage of the building previously housing a private bank.
Reservations start from May 7 at the moment; we found a King Deluxe Room on that day for a not-inconsiderable €445 ($615). You can shave just over $90 off of that if you are willing to book an advance purchase rate. The 1,324 sq ft Brentano Suite will set you back €3,735 ($5,163) a night.
[Rendering: Waldorf Astoria Hotels]
Yet another new hotel will opening in Amsterdam--The Pestana Amsterdam, from the Pestana Group, a Portuguese hotel company.
The Pestana Amsterdam will occupy the former town hall and county seat of the City of Nieuwer-Amstel, alongside the River Amstel. The town hall was built between 1889 and 1892, just four years before Nieuwer-Amstel was merged into the City of Amsterdam. The building, as beautiful as it is, was then used for records storage.
The building style is Neo-Renaissance, aka is really pretty, and oozes with exterior detail. Pestana will not need to dress up this architectural beauty, which features decorative brick patterns and the classic Dutch stepped parapet, roof sculpture and finials galore, and one hellova cupola. Additions were made after the town hall was completed, and based on the digital image released, these will be integrated into the hotel's design.
We first learned about Spanish chain Room Mate when they took over the QT Times Square way back in 2008, and talked to founder Enrique “Kike” Sarasola to understand what they’re all about. In short, that’s individual hotels with distinct personalities (called Oscar, Grace, Isabella, and so forth) that should give you the feeling of staying with a local friend who knows the ins and outs of each city.
That philosophy has resulted in a total of 18 hotels today, from Grace in New York to Carlos in Buenos Aires, and now Aitana in Amsterdam. Not a Dutch name (in case you were wondering whether it was locally inspired), the 284-room hotel is located on the man-made IJ Dock (the IJ is the surrounding water) northwest of the city’s central station.
The first rendering (we have a picture from almost exactly the same angle just below) also clearly shows the all-glass top floor that will be added to create an ‘upside down’ hotel with Living Room lobby, restaurant, and bar all on the hotel’s rooftop.
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Having looked at new Amsterdam hotels that start with a W (the W and Waldorf Astoria), we backtrack through the alphabet to the letter H, where we find two additional, and somewhat polar opposite, future openings: the business-focused Hyatt Regency and budget-chic Hoxton.
The 211-room Hyatt Regency will be located in the former Emma Kinderziekenhuis (a children’s hospital) between Sarphatistraat and Spinozastraat, down the street from the Amstel InterContinental and an easy stroll away from the city’s outpost of the Hermitage museum. Comparing what we found in person with Google Street View, a series of low-rise buildings has been levelled, creating what looks like the perfect space for the hotel’s driveway, entrance, and any gardens or terraces the architects might have in mind.
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Having scoped out the other big Amsterdam opening that starts (and ends) with a W, we kept on walking and turned down the city’s Herengracht canal until we hit up the row of patrician houses that is being transformed into the Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam.
About this time last year we gave you the first preview of the 94-room hotel, which is planned for a March 2014 opening. What we could see through the windows does not tell the full story of the hotel’s progress of course, but the public spaces and the downstairs kitchen we spied certainly seemed to need some work still. Let’s just hope that March opening will be happening, especially as it should kick off three consecutive months of openings for the brand, with Beijing and Jerusalem scheduled for April and May.
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Having received a first shot of the future W Amsterdam thanks to one of our tipsters, we decided to do a little further investigation and see what we could find out about the hotel located just off of Dam Square, less than ten minutes’ walk from the city’s central railway station.
We’d agree with our tipster’s assessment that the building, in its current state at least, lacks in the aesthetics department, but, with the right bit of love and W imagination, we do see a lot of potential. The address is not Raadhuisstraat 2, but rather Spuistraat 175, the street that runs along the back of the building. The Albert Heijn (a grocery store) and Gall & Gall (a wine & spirits shop) you see on the ground floor in the above shot will remain. Based on the description on the architect’s website, this will mean that all public spaces of the hotel, including reception, restaurant, and bar, will be on the top floor of the hotel. Read on for more about the building’s history and future as a W.
When it comes to European destinations, W Hotels has all the major cities covered--London, Paris, Istanbul, Barcelona, St. Petersburg and coming soon--Switzerland with their first-ever ski resort, along with Milan and Athens in 2016. And now you can add Amsterdam to the list.
A super secret spy sent us this picture the other day of the forthcoming W Amsterdam which will be created out of the city's old telephone switchboard exchange building. Admittedly, it's not much of a first look but in classic Amsterdam fashion, there's a man pedaling by on a bike.
According to our source, it will be a 172-room hotel. Right now, there's not much happening to the building but we hear it is being gutted and that real work should start soon. We're guessing W Amsterdam could totally open in 2015. Ja!
Update 10.8.13: Another Amsterdam tipster gave us an address-- Raadhuisstraat 2. They also said the building is "awful" but it's in a great location near Dam Square. Apparently, there's an Albert Heijn on one side (like Dutch Walgreens) which will be convenient if you forget your toiletries.
[Photo: HotelChatter Super Secret Spy]
Last year, the seemingly dull news that the Hoxton Hotel London changed hands to a new investment firm had us sit up and take notice based on the possible expansion of our £1 flash-sale favorite brand to places like New York – which arguably is in dire need of more affordable hotels.
Fast forward to this summer, and the only thing we’ve seen so far is the tiny notice on its website of the Hoxton Holborn, opening next year in a former office building about fifteen minutes due west of the hotel today. Things could be looking up, though perhaps not yet for New York, with The Times and DNA Hotels reporting that Hoxton-owner Ennismore Capital has agreed to buy the Rembrandt Classic Hotel in Amsterdam for €25 million ($33 million).