In our second edition of Hotels We Love, and because we've been following The Netherlands closely in the World Cup (argh!), we wanted to share our faves from Amsterdam. A city long known for its progressive stance on social issues, relaxed attitude toward certain smokeable herbs, friendliness, and love of bicycles, Amsterdam also boasts many fine places to stay. Here's a round up of our top picks to consider for your next vakantie en Nederland.
Kicking things off in true Dutch fashion - ie, progressive and quirky - we have The Conscious Hotels. A small Dutch chain that has one big goal: to offer a 100% sustainable, luxury hotel experience. They call them "eco-design hotels", we call them awesome. The original location, Museum Square, is located beside the renowned Van Gogh Museum, Rijksmuseum and Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, and has a cozy 36 rooms. That location did so well they opened another in the city, this time near Vondelpark (aptly naming it Hotel Vondelpark), which is bigger with 81 Earth-friendly rooms.
The hotel is not what you'd typically expect when you hear eco-friendly. It's sleek, stylish and beautiful. Rooms boats full wall, high definition photography wallpaper, crisp white linens, stylish furniture that you'd never know was made from recycled plastic, and lots more. There's a lovely green roof, and of course, they offer free bikes for tooling around the city. They're also fun and sassy, something that ranks high on our list of wins.
If you want to stick with the museum district, the Conservatorium Hotel is another gorgeous option. It's fairly new, opening just three years ago in 2011. It's housed in a beautiful Neo-Gothic building, which used to be the Sweelinck Conservatory of Music, and has been updated into a true design hotel by Italian designer Piero Lissoni, known for contemporary furniture design. One of the best reasons to stay here is the dreamy Akasha Holistic Wellbeing Centre. This luxurious spa offers both Western spa treatments AND Eastern treatments (hello, Hammam...), indulging you with the best of both worlds.
The space has a very pretty enclosed courtyard, bringing some nature indoors. And, the Tunes Bar offers what must be one of the most customizable gin and tonics on the planet, with 30 gins and 6 tonics to choose from. If you're able, snag the I ♥ Amsterdam suite, which is a triplex with a killer view of the city.
The Dylan has a complicated history - located next to one of Amsterdam's most famous canals (Keizersgracht), the hotel sits on the site of a wooden theatre founded by a doctor in the 1600s, which later became a stone theatre, which then burned down, which was then sold to the Catholic Church to be rebuilt as the "Old & Poor People's Office", who owned it until 1998. It was renovated and reopened in 1999 as The Dylan. So what does a luxury boutique hotel steeped in this much history look like? As a member of the very prestigious Small Luxury Hotels of the World, pretty damn good. The Dylan is modern, five star, and has exceptional service. The suites have a ton of character, especially those with exposed wooden beams. But, even the smallest rooms are packed with personality.
As well as having top notch hotels, Amsterdam is no slouch in the bed and breakfast game. Stout & Co. is also located in the heart of the city, and combines the comfort and luxury of a hotel with the warmness of a B&B. We especially love the Aesop toiletries stocked in each room (gotta love anything that actually smells great for men and women) and lots of art from up and coming artists. Like many spots in Amsterdam that celebrate historic architecture (take a hint, Toronto!), the owners behind Stout & Co. found an old brewery and turned it into a beautiful place to lay your head. Enjoy local, organic food, complimentary organic coffee and tea, and staff that are dying to tell you about the latest and greatest restaurant, coffee shop or art exhibit that's just opened.