Last weekend we visited the Netherlands’ financial and cultural capital: Amsterdam. Thanks to the stunning museums, canals, “coffee shops” and the red light district, the city attracts over 20 million international visitors annually.
The “Venice of the North” has a flourishing hospitality industry and the Andaz Amsterdam Prinsengracht, a 122-room boutique hotel which opened in 2012, became our abode for the trip.
The Andaz hotels are Hyatt’s upscale lifestyle boutique-styled hotels. Boutique hotels are relatively small hotels (less than 150 rooms) located in an urban setting with an upscale accommodation. They have an individualistic feel to them and the décor gives a strong sense of the place. The term was coined by American entrepreneur Steve Rubell in 1984 when he compared his first Morgan Hotel in New York City to a boutique. The Andaz Amsterdam certainly ticks all these boxes and even though fairly large in number of rooms has a boutique feel to it.
The Andaz Amsterdam has a perfect location for a weekend in Amsterdam, situated between two major canals: the Prinsengracht (Princes canal) and the Keizersgracht (Emperors canal). The hotel is about 30 minutes from the Schiphol Airport and the guests have an option for a limousine shuttle to and from the airport.
Several historic sites and museums like the Anne Frank House and Rijksmuseum are within walking distance from the hotel. It is ideally located around the corner from the popular ‘nine streets’ with its boutiques, bars and restaurants and in the middle between the tourist center around Dam Square and the local center around the Leidseplein, which is also a popular nightlife district. The Vondelpark and Museumplein are also just 500m from the hotel.
As Amsterdam local I particularly enjoyed this location slightly away from the tourist madness near the red light district and Dam square. It is still close enough to walk there but just far away enough to experience the real Amsterdam. If you make your way over to Amsterdam make sure to go on a canal cruise and ideally not on one of the large tourist boats with announcements in 28 languages but instead take an open canal hopper near the Rijksmuseum for a more personal tour.
The hotel has been designed by Dutch designer Marcel Wanders – labelled by the New York Times as the “Lady Gaga of design”. Andaz Amsterdam is Wanders’ boldest work to-date with the experience in living at the hotel described akin to ‘Alice in Amsterdam’- a reference to Lewis Carroll’s book, Alice in Wonderland.
There are large chandeliers in the reception, high-benched chairs and lots of graphics and wallpapers on the walls- inspired by local themes and the dwelling’s heritage of previously being a public library from 1997 to 2007.
The design is bold, very bold in fact, but it does make the Andaz the coolest hotel in Amsterdam at the moment. The rooms are filled with cool little design elements from a pair of wooden shoes on the wall to a wallpaper on the toilet with (arti)facts about Holland.
The Andaz Amsterdam has 122 rooms including for Amsterdam standards generously sized standard rooms measuring 26-33m2, 31-36m2 deluxe- and 31-34m2 canal view rooms and 55-57m2 suites. Our canal view room 411 on the fourth floor offered a mega view of the Prinsengracht and surrounding buildings and standard facilities included high-speed Wi-Fi, a minibar with free snacks and non-alcoholic drinks, a 42-inch LCD TV with international channels, a walk-in closet and an open-plan bath with rain shower.
The basins found in the rooms have been painted by Wanders himself. Moreover, on the back wall of each hotel room there’s a giant photographic image known as a “Connected Polarity”. A connected polarity takes take two unsuspecting items and stitches them together to create a new, surprising image. The image in our room was a giant spoon that turned into a fish.
The idea behind this is that although Amsterdam is very open-minded and tolerant city, it faces several challenges to stay this way. “By embracing two opposites or two objects that seem not to relate and showing how they can connect to become a unique whole,” Wanders writes on his website.
The room was comfortable and I even liked the open-plan bathroom which is not the case in most other hotels I stayed. The toilet, closet and shower were all hidden behind a solid door or mirror for that bit of privacy everybody values.
The Bluespoon Bar is located in the lobby of the Andaz Amsterdam hotel is a good place for an eventful evening or a coffee during the day. The hotel highly recommends trying out its “typical Dutch snacks” there.
Meanwhile, the Bluespoon Restaurant has been described as the “heart and soul” of Andaz Amsterdam. Headed by chef Kasper Stiekema, it serves delicious European flavours with a “Dutch edge”. The restaurant has an open-kitchen and guests can have an intimate look at Stiekema and his team’s work by taking a front seat at the “Chef’s Table” that caters up to 10 people at a time.
Spa and other Facilities
The spa provides several relaxation and soothing treatments. The wellness area features a sauna, solarium, rain showers, relaxation area, changing rooms with lockers and two treatment rooms. Fitness enthusiasts can check out the 24-hour gym facilities that have high-grade equipment.
Not to forget, Andaz Amsterdam has its own video art collection with more than 40 unique works, from names like Ryan Gander, Erwin Olaf and Mark Titchner. It can be seen in the lobby.
The Andaz Amsterdam is blessed with the perfect location for a weekend or week in Amsterdam. The former city library has been transformed in a design lovers paradise with friendly staff and cool rooms. The canal view rooms are bright and overlook the beautiful Prinsengracht. The bar is cozy and frequented by locals and tourists alike. A typical Andaz thing we are not too fond of though is the new style check-in desks in the form of three tables in the entrance area. But that didn’t spoil our weekend at the Andaz much!