For those who view hotels as an integral part of their travel experience—and not simply as somewhere to spend the night—it can be thrilling to stay in a listed Golden Age 17th-century gabled house, especially one furnished with antique mirrors, down-stuffed duvets, and a general sense of gezellig, a term that embodies the very Dutch notions of cozy comfort. To walk down medieval
passages on the way to sleep in a four-poster bed, sit down to dinner before a baronial fireplace, have breakfast on a terrace overlooking a river that has flowed through history—all these flesh out the shadows that a lucky traveler feels in a city as time-burnished as this one. Behind many of the quaint decorative facades, however, are all the modern conveniences and luxuries one could hope for. So, go ahead: revel in the 18th century over morning coffee, then get a head-start on your day by flicking on the Wi-Fi.
Accommodations throughout this city are egalitarian; no matter the budget, from grand hotels to family-run bed-and-breakfasts, easy access to attractions and idyllic canal views are available to all. Naturally, there's more to any hotel stay than the panoramas, which is where Amsterdam's hotels flex their muscles.
Solid standards keep reaching the next level thanks to such upmarket heavyweights as the stately InterContinental Amstel Amsterdam, the Okura, and the Grand, or the old-world Krasnapolsky, or the grande dame American—each offers doorknob-to-bedpost luxe. Although varying dramatically, these top places demonstrate how historic monumental buildings can be modernized and transformed into state-of-the-art facilities, providing rooms fit for royalty, business travelers, and tourists in one impressive swoop.
At the other end of the scale, young backpackers can mingle in the city's hip hostels for as little as €20, while down-to-earth properties such as Museumzicht and Fita set exceptionally clean standards, serving customers with a smile and a personal local touch; chances are your room was scrubbed only hours, or mere minutes, before you arrived. If cleanliness is next to godliness, then Amsterdam's moteless hotels attain heavenly heights.
In the middle of the price range, serene yet unexpected Dutch-flavored experience can be found around Vondelpark, where, at the Roemer and JL no. 76 modern luxury goes hand in hand with an eye for Dutch art and design. Also near Vondelpark is the charming Sandton Hotel de Filosoof, which will make you feel as if you were a 19th-century traveler visiting an old friend in a stately home; locals gathering in the lobby for weekly lectures and meetings give the place a definitive Dutch touch. Or what about the Exchange? It offers a Dutch-flavored experience of a different sort: each room has been uniquely designed by Dutch fashion students and artists.
Of course, the Netherlands continues to make waves at the forefront of European design. Thus it is little wonder that copious ink has been spilt about the gorgeous "new" Conservatorium, which has revitalized a grand old Amsterdam bank building. Inside, cutting-edge interior design and furnishings blend in with traditional elements and luxury is balanced with sustainability (even if you stay elsewhere you should enjoy a drink or meal in the soaring seven-story atrium). And then there is the worldwide buzz around the new Marcel Wanders-designed 122-room Andaz Amsterdam Hyatt, located in a former public library. Not yet quite open by press time, it is already causing a citywide stir thanks to the first photo images (guest room walls plastered with giant goldfish, etc.)
All in all, Amsterdam's span of hotels befits a dowager who is ten centuries old but growing younger every day. Some visitors will choose the latest design hot spot, others will always opt for lodgings in an archetypal canal-house hotel. If you're one of the latter, just remember to keep a steady eye, and hand, out when navigating those traditional Dutch staircases. If you're not nimble-footed, find out in advance if you need to walk stairs at your hotel—how many, what type, and the degree of incline. And watch out for that last step out the door; if not careful, you might end up doing a slow breaststroke.
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