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Hotels in shopping malls - they're catching on. First the Intercontinental Chengdu Global Center in Chengdu's New Century Global Center. Then Manchester's forthcoming Corn Exchange hotel. And now the trend has spread to the Netherlands (you know it's a trend when it hits the Netherlands), with the opening of Novotel Den Haag City Centre.
The hotel forms part of the fancy new Nieuwe Haagse Passage mall in The Hague, which opened in September with 10,500 square meters of shops, itself connecting two major shopping thoroughfares in the city: Grote Marktstraat and Spuistraat.
The Novotel - or SuiteNovotel to be precise (it's an all-suite property) - is gunning for long-stay guests with offers of "flexible furnishings", but there's plenty to offer the short-term traveler: 106 suites, all of them large (looks-wise, it's 'business competent', if not especially sexy); a bar and restaurant; a fitness center and free bike use; and, apparently, free massages (though it's not clear how you earn these).
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Something weird is going on with airport hotels. It's a full-circle effect really, in that the original airport hotels opened on auto routes to airpots in the dawn of the jet age, when people considered air travel a rare luxury and made the flight experience an event all its own. The 80s and 90s saw the reputation and quality of airport and roadside hotels drop, but now there's been a definite upturn with the re-introduction of style. Just look at the proliferation of Alofts, Elements and Yotels.
Just a second let's turn the clock back. Let's reflect on those original, full-service hotels that marked the beginning of a landmark trip in someone's life, in the 1960s. Welcome to Euro Motel, located on one of the main motorways leading into/away from Amsterdam-Schiphol International.
Have you ever walked into a hotel room and spotted a piece of furniture where you're just like, "what the heck is that?" The hope is that it's something awesomesay a turntable closet or a washer/dryerbut at luxury Amsterdam hotel The Dylan, the surprise is a custom-made minibar cabinet.
Open its mother-of-pearl handles (yes, they're real). The Dylan's bespoke cabinets can be found in each room, and they contain everything from fancy teas and bottle opener to Pringles, Heineken, and a fridge of champagne and soda. You won't find Keurig cups or plastic stirrers here; the espresso machine is serious business and so are the china and glassware. For rooms which begin around $460 per night, amenity overkill of this sort is not only appropriate, but appreciated.
All it seems we talked about in spring was Yotel NYC this and Yotel NYC that. Well, there are other Yotels out there, you knowmore budget-friendly ones. The thing is, yu have to go to Europe and the UK to lay your head upon their pillows.
Unlike the NYC Yotel which sits just west of Times Square, you'll find the three other Yotels exclusively at airports: London-Heathrow, London-Gatwick and Amsterdam-Schiphol. Wanna see inside? No problemwe've already done a full video tour, photo gallery and review of one of the smallest "cabins" at the Heathrow Yotel, but last week we spotted the elusive Amsterdam Yotel!
Why elusive? Well, this Yotel sits in Schiphol Airport after security, so you've got to be in transit to somewhere outside the Schengen countries to claim a room. Luckily we were this time, but after playing around on the self-serve kiosk, discovered that the whole Yotel AMS was booked up full. Not even a brief 4-hour block was available. For this reason, better check ahead before setting off.
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Unless you're staying at the The Dylan Amsterdam, you could easily walk right by it along the picturesque Keizersgracht canal without realizing you were passing one of the original five-star, design-oriented boutique hotels of the world. In car terminology, The Dylan is a "sleeper." So calm on the outside and blending into its 17th century surroundings in De Negen Straatjes (The Nine Streets) neighborhood, The Dylan conceals its opulent modernity only for those staying the night to discover.
Indeed staying here and experiencing the intimate service isn't cheap; nights in one of The Dylan's 40 rooms go from $460 and up, but for that you get seriously stylish (and tech-friendly) design, a location to make others jealous, free and fast WiFi, a massive bathroom and hotel staff that will go so far as to remember your name and help you park and lock one of the hotel's rental bikes.
For almost three years now, we've had a burgeoning obsession with hotels that have their own boats. it began with with luxury launch at the W Maldives and even stretched to the Universal Studios water transfers at the Portofino Bay in Florida. Now, hotel boats head to Europe and we drool over the luxury boat The Muze of The Dylan Hotel, Amsterdam.
The Muze is a restored 19th century salon boat, of which you'll find few plying the canals these days. Hop on from The Dylan's personal dock in front of the hotel and onboard, The Dylan can arrange a live cooking session and full meal from their Michelin-starred restaurant Vinkeles.
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There's a vibrant orange Vespa parked out front of the hotel, free WiFi inside, iPads available for complimentary use, a self-serve cappuccino machine, a location about two minutes away from the Rijksmuseum, sub-150€ nightly rates and beds so comfy we overslept...twice. Is this heaven? Nopeit's Amsterdam's Hotel JL No. 76, one of the newest hotels in the city and certainly one of the most overlooked (by Americans, that is).
The Hotel JL No. 76its name is its address, you seesits on the quiet Jan Luijkenstraat, an upscale residential street cozied between the huge attractions of Vondelpark (basically Amsterdam's Central Park), Museumplein and the luxury shopping street of PC Hooftstraat (Louis Vuitton is literally around the corner).
JL No. 76 is the shiniest star in the small crown of Vondel Hotels, a Dutch chain that solely focuses on their four properties in Amsterdam, but for comparison's sake, we'd say its attitude and design is closest to the American chain of Kimpton Hotels.
Now about that Vespa and those iPads....
It's Amsterdam Week over at our sister site Jaunted, so we're going a little Dutch ourselves. In Amsterdam, hotels don't just have one or two bikes available for rent. They have a whole rack ready and waiting out front. Biking is a way of life, it's how you commute, have fun, exercise and socialize. Therefore it's pretty easy to lay down the extra 13 Euros to take out one of the Hotel JL No. 76's bright orange Beicks and spend the day getting purposefully lost in Amsterdam's web of canals and bike lanes.
The Beicks used are standard Dutch city bikes, with wider tires for navigating cobblestones and tram tracks, but outfitted with a big black basket perfect for toting home wedges of cheese and bouquets of flowers and pairs of wooden clogs and bottles of Amstel or Grolschaka the makings of a pretty good time.