Singel 303-309, Amsterdam, North Holland 1012WJ, Netherlands
Founded as a guesthouse by WWII widow Maria Flieger-Gruyters in 1942, and named for her daughters Esther, Elly, and Ria, this canal-side hotel is now run by the third generation of the family, and their grandmother’s love of people and pretty flowers still shines through in everything they do.
Borrow an iPad from the front desk to order room service or make reservations. While the restaurant list needs an update, hotel staff are eager to offer their personal recommendations.
Rooms are bursting with romance, with boldly patterned prints, silky curtains, tasseled cushions and mirrored accents, and large, comfortable beds. There’s nothing cookie cutter about the 93 rooms spread over three adjoining canal houses: some feature a Delftware motif, while others follow the hotel’s botanical theme and many have four-poster beds, frilly chandeliers, and comfy armchairs.
Upgrade to a canal-facing room on the Singel side. It’s not considerably more money and definitely worth it.
With relatively small bathrooms, often featuring the dreaded tub-in-shower combo, there’s room for improvement here, but you do get lovely L’Occitane products, fluffy white towels, robes, and bath slippers.
Step through the old canal house’s gleaming wood carousel door and you’ll find a large lobby festooned with botanical wallpaper and fresh flowers in fantastical vases. Saturated with sumptuous fabrics and crystal chandeliers, it’s like something out of a bodice-ripping romance novel. There’s also a library and comfortable lounge with canal views.
Help yourself to free coffee, tea, fruit water, and cookies--all day long.
If you haven’t burned enough calories walking or cycling around, there’s a small gym in the basement.
YOU SHOULD KNOW You won’t find a spa, pool, or garden, but the botanical décor, abundance of fresh flowers and atrium spaces brimming with plants (there’s even a koi pond!), create a restful oasis within the hotel.
There’s no on-site restaurant, but the hotel has an exclusive 24-hour watering hole—Maria’s Bar, named for the hotel’s founder—with walnut wood chairs, exotic floral bouquets and banquettes dressed in velvety Designer’s Guild and Christian Lacroix fabrics featuring fruit and leaf motifs. A simple continental breakfast is served here too.
YOU SHOULD KNOW Breakfast staff can be boisterous, so pick a table away from the open kitchen for a more restful meal.
You can bring your car, because there is underground parking (€55 for 24 hours) suitable for most cars. Hotel Estheréa is within easy walking distance of all the major sights and offers excellent access to public transport. Tram lines 1, 2, 5 (3-minute walk) and 7 and 10 (10-minute walk) will get you everywhere you need to go. You can also rent a bike (€16 for for the first day, and then €13.50 per day) or scooter (€49.50 per day) from the hotel.
To try light, modern Dutch cuisine, head to Lt. Cornelis (6-minute walk), which perfectly juxtaposes past and present in its food and décor. Sustainable seafood specialist, The Seafood Bar (5-minute walk), offers smoked fish varieties from Volendam, delicately-battered fish and chips, four varieties of oyster and platters of fruits de mer. And, for some of the best pancakes at town, you can’t go wrong at Pancakes! (5-minute walk).
Popular Café Gollem, a dark and cosy Belgian beer café with more than 200 bottled brews and 14 on tap, is only a 1-minute walk away. Or, if you’re more in the mood for well-crafted cocktails with canal views, intimate fireplace nooks and an Art Deco-style bar, there’s the dependably excellent Pulitzer’s Bar (6-minute walk).
WHY WE LIKE IT
Warm and welcoming with a faint whiff of flowers, like a bosomy hug from your favorite aunt, Hotel Estheréa combines great location with the authentic feel of a family-run establishment. The décor may be too feminine for some, but it’s certainly romantic and very comfortable. We like the family-friendly configuration of beds in larger rooms: 15 rooms (including 8 interconnecting rooms) sleep up to 3 or 4 people, and under-two’s stay free.
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