Six historic townhouses from the 17th and 18th centuries make up the Waldorf Astoria that opened in Amsterdam’s canal ring in May 2014. In a city that in recent years has welcomed mostly design-forward boutique dwellings, it’s refreshing to check into a spacious hotel presented in classic luxury. This is not to suggest that the Waldorf is any less visually arresting. The building has so much decorative history that there’s discovery at every turn, especially when looking up—ceilings and walls still come with the gorgeous relief sculpture and frescoes from their previous lives inside a bank or a mayor’s home. These features, plus dramatic wood staircases (made by an architect for Louis XIV) and elegant but demure furnishing, lend the property grandeur.
Style and Substance
A soft color palette of cream, white, and grey anchor the interiors of the guest rooms with the occasional Delft blue or moss green popping up to reference the maritime heritage of the Netherlands. All 93 private chambers are sleek and contemporary, but to really experience the history of these centuries-old buildings, spring for one of the suites, such as the King Grand Loft, which is located on the top floor and boasts the architecture’s original wood beams. Unfortunately, not every room comes with a fantastic view. Try to ask for one that either faces the canals or the pretty on-property garden.
The hotel’s marquee fine-dining restaurant, Librije’s Zusje, is from three-Michelin-star couple Jonnie and Thérèse Boer. The Amsterdam location’s kitchen has become the most sought-after reservation in town. Manager and chef Sidney Schutte—who prepares fresh dishes featuring local ingredients with slight Asian flourishes, and inventive plates like feather-light mackerel meringue, crispy tulip bulbs, and a dessert spin on the Waldorf Salad—won the restaurant two Michelin stars of its own for 2015.
Then there’s the Vault Bar, a stylish boîte perfect for a nightcap. Potent cocktails are the stars of the show here, but the old-school lockers set against the bar cleverly harken back to the property’s previous life as a bank.
A Secret Garden
Finding quiet respite in a city so densely stacked was no easy accomplishment until the Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam unveiled its verdant interior courtyard. One of the most picturesque parts of the property, this garden is lined with vibrant tulips and is perfect for whiling away an afternoon escaping from the hustle and bustle of Amsterdam with a refreshing beverage. The opulent oasis effortlessly shuts out the noise of the city.
The stunning indoor pool adjacent to the garden is one of the few in the Dutch capital. And let’s not forget the small but transporting Guerlain spa, the first in the Benelux region and packed with those pampering treats that give the retreat a sense of place—such as the Fusion Experience, an exclusive treatment created specifically for this branch of the Waldorf Astoria that uses a combination of hot oil and ice to relieve muscle tension and promote circulation.
The Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam is on its way to becoming the premier hotel in the city thanks to the prime location on Herengracht (the most affluent of all the canal-side streets) and a list of amenities that appeal to discerning luxury travelers.