Although delightful, Amsterdam has always been a difficult hotel city compared with other major European capitals. Therefore, I decided to check out one of the Hotel de l’Europe’s 23 new “Dutch Masters” suites. These opened on March 1 and are housed in a new wing with a dedicated private entrance.
On recent visits to Amsterdam, I have booked into excellent if imperfect boutique properties such as Seven One Seven, but I’ve always nurtured a soft spot for this gable-roofed, red-brick grande dame, with its ideal location at the southern tip of the city’s first main canal.
Although an eminently recommendable hotel, the Hotel de l’Europe recently seemed to have fallen slightly behind the curve of luxury traveler expectations. So I was delighted to hear the good news that the entire property was to undergo a bone-deep renovation. The Dutch Masters suites are the first stage of this process, so I was curious to see what they’d be like. Well, let’s just say that this glass is two-thirds full. The accommodations will suit travelers who do not want the inconveniences of boutique properties, which in Amsterdam often include steep stairs and noise, and who require 24-hour room service. That said, I wish the hotel had found another decorator.
Amsterdam is a major center for contemporary design in Europe, but little of this is evident at the Hotel de l’Europe. My junior suite was spacious, comfortable and well-appointed.
However, the odd modern furniture, the peculiar glass pocket door between bedroom and sitting room and the Nile green walls and curtains were light years away from the style and charm of Seven One Seven. The Dutch Masters theme was conveyed by lithographson-canvas of paintings in the Rijksmuseum, but these were unsuccessful. In addition, the light switches were maddening, and despite coming with labels explaining which lamps they worked, it took some jabbing to sort things out. And the two reading lamps on the headboard of the large and comfortable double bed didn’t work.
Fortunately, the navy blue glass mosaic-tiled bath was spacious, with double vanities, a walk-in shower with rainfall and handheld heads, a large tub and Bulgari toiletries.
Service throughout the hotel was friendly, alert and professional — with the exception of an almost comically unfriendly senior porter in a top hat — and this extraordinarily welllocated hotel is much more deeply woven into the history of the city than most of its international-chain competitors. But with the hotel’s signature restaurant closed for renovation, and the brasserie menu not being especially tempting, we slipped out for an Indonesian rijsttafel, or tableside buffet of numerous small dishes, at Sampurna (Singel 498), which overlooks the city’s charming flower market.
Hotel de l’Europe 90 Junior Dutch, Masters Suite, $805. Nieuwe Doelenstraat 2-14. Tel. (31) 20-5311-777.
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