On the river, the imposing fragment of a monumental project

In and Out…
Amsterdam | Amstel Hotel

Of Amsterdam’s historic hotels, several are of inherent interest to the Hotel Investigator:
the ‘De l’Europe’ for its intimate elegance, the ‘Doelen’ for its history, the ‘Krasnapolsky’ for its size, the ‘American’ and the ‘Schiller’ for their Art Nouveau heritage… But as a rightful representative of the category ‘grand hôtel’, nothing in the intricate cityscape of the Dutch capital compares to the ‘Amstel’.

Inaugurated in 1868, the majestic property on the Amstel river has not lost any of its allure. Not obvious, however, is the fact that today’s building is only the quarter of a much larger hotel project that had been instigated by the philanthropist and city planner Samuel Sarphati: initially outlined as a quadrilateral complex around a courtyard (part of which is today’s Professor Tulpplein), the hotel’s main facade was to be situated on the main thoroughfare perpendicular to the water. Due to financial problems, the Amstel that we see today remains the only wing of the original scheme that was executed.

An invention of the late 19th century, grand hotels shaped a distinctive building type, marked by an eclecticism of historical architectural references. In that respect, the Amstel is a remarkable illustration: while the hotel’s exterior employs classical decorative elements that mix with Dutch vernacular building materials and color schemes, its interiors take roots in the Renaissance and recall, above all spatially, Italian palazzi. As other monumental buildings of that period (Amsterdam’s world-famous Concertgebouw concert hall being one of them) the hotel maintains a very Dutch aura which connects harmonically to its surroundings.

In spite of this, for a hotel that grand, the Amstel has a surprisingly intimate feel to it. Even though the hotel reduced its room capacity by roughly a third during its 1992 renovation, the main lobby, a rectangular double-height space with a palatial staircase as focal point, achieves just the right balance so that it feels welcoming and opulent at the same time.
In a city built on water, the hotel takes full advantage of this proximity; the hotel’s lavish public rooms on the ground floor now being mainly used for meetings and receptions, the ‘Amstel Lounge’ is in fact an elegant conservatory that seems to float on the river. Since 1953, it functions as the hotel’s ‘drawing room’ and is, without question, the Amstel’s most agreeable asset in any season.

The Verdict
As one of the most emblematic grand hotels in all of Europe, the Amstel Hotel deserves an in-depth look in order to unveil the secrets of its initial project.

InterContinental Amstel Amsterdam
Professor Tulpplein 1
1018 GX Amsterdam
Netherlands

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