What was once a headquarters for shipping companies is now the Grand Amrâth
Although the building opened as a hotel only in 2007, this year it celebrates its 100th anniversary. Stay here, or join the weekly architecture tour of it, and you'll quickly realize that it's always had a firm place in the history of the city. Images of Neptune glare from above ticketing office windows, where people would come to purchase ocean liner voyages or to mail international packages. Everywhere you turn is some spectacular detail of the building's nautical theme, done in Amsterdam School-fashion. Of course Aviation changed the tides for the companies who once inhabited this building, but now it may serve as a home to travelers who reach Amsterdam by all means of transportation.
Average room rate: $270
What was once a theatre is now The Dylan Hotel
The original “Duytsche Academie" theatre burnt down in the late 1700s, but not before entering the history books as a place where Vivaldi conducted and where Dutch plays and also those by the likes of Shakespeare and Voltaire were performed. The current building on the site was used by the Catholic Church as charity offices, until The Dylan Hotel opened within its high ceilings and stone gables in 1999.
Average room rate: $350
What was once a boys school is now The College Hotel
The boutique hotel, with only 40 rooms in a 19th century building, still retains its educational history by serving as a practice ground for students of hospitality and culinary arts. The receptionist checking you into your room and the waiter serving your morning orange juice aren't just working jobs; they're completing on-the-job learning for a solid career.
Average room rate: $175
What was once the Public Library is now The Andaz Amsterdam Prinsengracht
This brick building from the 1970s may not be the prettiest on the outside, but trust Andaz to gussy it up while remaining true to the literary history. The design of public areas hints at its former life as a library, and all rooms have a small library of their own; they're novels, too, not just coffeetable books for looks. The hotel only opened in late 2012, so it's still all bright and shiny.
Average room rate: $315
What was once a shipping house and jail is now the Lloyd Hotel
Known as the first "1 to 5-star hotel in the world," The Lloyd offers a variety of rooms at a variety of prices, but it wasn't always so fun for this imposing structure near the docks. It began as a hotel, to house immigrants booking passage on the ships of Royal Dutch Lloyd line. The facilities were basic, unless you count having a Quarantine building an amenity. After the ship line went bankrupt in 1935, the building went through several stages as a jail, housing members of the Nazi Resistance movement at first and, eventually, just convicted juveniles. A short period of use as artist studios occurred between its time as a jail and a hotel, a time still reflected in the creativity of the rooms at The Lloyd and its secondary use as a "cultural embassy."
Average room rate: $100
What was once a convent and more is now the Sofitel Legend The Grand
The convents were established as early as 1397, with the building's life as a dual hospital and inn to follow in the late 1500s. You can thank the Reformation for this change, as the hospital/inn renamed the "Princenhof" was luxury from the start, a place for "Princes and Gentlemen of Standing" to stay. In the late 1600s, the entire site was taken over by the Admiralty of Amsterdam, a board that managed the marine administration and the taxes to fund the safeguarding of the coast. And then Napoleon came around and took Amsterdam's City Hall to be the palace of his brother. For this reason, the city hall moved into the Princenhof and stayed there for 180 years until reopening as The Grand in 1992.
Average room rate: $350
[Photos: Cynthia Drescher & Sofitel]