A monumental former shipping company opposite Centraal Station now houses an ultra-contemporary hotel, which fuses art, architecture, and hospitality. Each art’otel (there are similar concepts in Berlin, Cologne, Dresden, and Budapest) is linked to an artist, and here it’s internationally acclaimed Dutch artist Atelier van Lieshout. Unsurprisingly, art is everywhere, from the basement gallery to the rooms, and sculptures, inspired by “the course of life”, are scattered throughout. While the fashionably dark color scheme looks striking in certain places, most notably the lounge and library, where brightly hued art and colorful design provide a welcome counterpoint, it comes off as gloomy in certain rooms.
YOU SHOULD KNOW Sensitive souls may be offended by some of art’otel’s artsy installations, which include sculptures of copulating couples, a phallic lamp, bikes emblazoned with spermatozoa and risqué art books.
Furnished in dark colors (black, taupe, grey) with splashes of sunny yellow, rooms are slick and generously sized (from 270 ft2), with large, comfortable beds, work desks, lounge chairs, one-of-a-kind artworks, and various art books. You’ll also find Illy coffee makers, in-room entertainment systems, and 42-inch flat screen TVs. While the architecture of the historic building doesn’t always allow for much natural light, guests can fully customize the lighting (full, mood, read, sleep) and blackout curtains ensure the station’s glare doesn’t disturb your rest.
YOU SHOULD KNOW The rooms with so-called “iconic views” of a highly traffic-clogged street and Centraal Station have relatively small windows covered in bird netting: It’s not worth the upgrade. Rooms are pretty well isolated, but you’re in the hubbub here and some noise gets in.
Cleverly concealed behind mirrored sliding doors, you’ll find a creamy bathroom with vanity units that offer plenty of space for all your essentials (Elemis guest amenities are provided). A roomy rain shower (with a handy extra hand-held shower head) and a wall mounted toilet are hidden behind swinging tinted glass doors.
Shy and sharing? Art’otel’s bathrooms feature peekaboo panels, but cleverly, there’s a control switch, so you have the option of complete privacy while doing your ablutions.
In the striking lobby, everything is a sculpture, from the head-shaped ruby reception desks and striking black “family” lamp to a bench with a lounging white nude attached.
With its central, accessible location–Schiphol International Airport is only 20 minutes by train from next-door Centraal Station–art’otel makes a great airport hotel alternative, ideal for short stays or late arrivals.
You’ll find an attractively designed pool and adjacent relaxation area and juice bar downstairs.
No. But there is a Finnish sauna and solarium instead.
Kitted out with Technogym equipment, the downstairs gym covers a respectable range of exercise activities, from cardio to boxing, with exercise balls, free weights and kettle balls to kinesis options available.
The design of 5&33, the hotel’s all-day restaurant, bar, library, lounge and gallery boasts strikingly sleek lines, incorporating natural elements such as wood and glass as well as post-industrial accents – polished concrete floors and black steel pillars, gold and copper tones – while the glass-fronted fireplaces offer warmth and comfort. The all-Italian kitchen offers Mediterranean fare designed to share (the linguine with vongole, bottarga, and prosecco is particularly good) and the wine list is well-considered, with plenty by the glass. Breakfast is included in the rate (a rarity for high-end Amsterdam hotels), but service can be uneven: sometimes excellent, often chaotic, especially on the weekends.
Some of the city’s best cocktails (including a near-perfect Penicillin) and small bites are served day and night in the award-winning 5&33 bar with its colorful design furniture.
Yes, you’re central, but arguably too much so, in an area that is relentlessly rammed with tourists, trams, taxis and buses, and still gritty, even though the first hopeful shimmers can be seen of Project 1012, Amsterdam’s long-term make-over plan for this part of the city. That said, you’ll be able to do a lot on foot, including the Old Centre, Red Light District, Western Canal District and Jordaan. The tangle of trams and metros at Centraal Station will take you all over the city, and you can hop a ferry to North behind the station. Or go Dutch, and rent one of those sperm-emblazoned bikes if you dare (€15 per day).
For dinner, gastro-bistro Kaagman & Kortekaas (7-minute walk), which creatively combines traditional techniques with surprising ingredients, is a must for meat-lovers. , Or head to three-story pagoda-style Sea Palace (10-minute walk) to grab dim sum and Peking duck if it’s comfort of the Cantonese kind you crave. With its cozy fireside Chesterfields and low-lit, theatrically-inspired décor, The Lobby Restaurant (14-minute walk) is a popular local hangout and dining destination (the flammkuchen, are famous!), and there’s a covered outdoor terrace, too.
For cocktails, stay put. If you’re heading to the Red Light District Mata Hari (7-minute walk) offers a welcome respite with its retro atmosphere, comfy leather chairs and menu of local beers and bar bites (there’s a decent upstairs restaurant, should you want to stay for dinner, too). With over 50 wines by the glass, low-slung champagne bar Bubbles & Wines (10-minute walk) is an oenophile’s delight.
WHY WE LIKE IT
Art’otel’s central location means you can pack a lot even into a short stay, but there’s also room to relax in the design-focused lounge or library.