Archive for the ‘Hotels’ Category

What to see and do in Amsterdam this autumn, including suggestions from our expert on where to stay.
Amsterdam attractions: what to see and do in autumn

Autumn in Amsterdam is for bracing walks along the canals Photo: AP

9:53AM BST 25 Sep 2013 

Why go?

Amsterdam somehow manages to have it all. It has the buzz of a metropolis, with few big-city drawbacks. It’s small enough to walk or cycle almost anywhere you want, yet is rarely dull. Dinky gabled buildings, pretty bridges and quiet canals give it village-like charm, yet you’ll also find top-ranking art museums and one of the best orchestras in the world. Most of all, Amsterdam combines its glittering past with a wry, rough, rebellious contemporary edginess.

Any season in Amsterdam has its allure, and autumn for bracing walks along the canals.

On the downside, expect rain or Tupperware-grey skies any time of year – but then there’s more than enough on the museum front to keep you entertained indoors, and at the slightest hint of good weather the chairs and tables go out at pavement cafés.

Autumn foliage

Trees line Amsterdam’s famous canals, meaning autumn is a great time for strolling around the city, and soaking up the colours. Wander the main 17th-century canals – Herengracht, Keizersgracht and Prinsengracht – but check out the picture-postcard Brouwersgracht, and the patch around Reguliersgracht, too.

Vondelpark, to the southwest of the city centre, is another decent bet for leaf-peeping. Other green spaces include Beatrixpark, Sarphatipark, and Oosterpark.

New exhibitions

Hermitage Amsterdam
Gaugin, Bonnard, Denis: A Russian Taste for French Art (until February 2014)

Set in a former almshouse for the aged, built in the 1680s, Hermitage Amsterdam shows off treasures on loan from the Hermitage palace in St Petersburg, in different themed exhibitions.

Its current exhibition highlights the works of three French artists from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Documenting the Netherlands: Our Daily Bread (until January 7, 2014)

The Dutch national treasure-house of art has at last re-opened after a decade-long renovation. Golden Age masterpieces by Rembrandt, Vermeer, Frans Hals and so many more are on show alongside centuries’ worth of fine furniture, Delftware, costume and jewellery. There’s a superb Asian collection, and new aquisitions which bring the display up to the present day.

The new exhibition features images from photographer Henk Wildschut that aim to depict the reality behind the production of fruit, vegetables, meat, milk, fish and eggs in the Netherlands.

Expert hotel pick
Hotel Bellington is a modest option in Amsterdam’s flashiest quarter.

Van Gogh Museum
Van Gogh at Work (until January 12, 2014)

More of the tortured artist’s paintings and drawings are collected here than anywhere in the world, and the temporary exhibitions of associated works are usually inspired and engrossing.

The current exhibition is a revealing look at the formative ten years that shaped his craft, showcasing over 200 pieces including paintings, works on paper, letters, original sketchbooks and his only surviving palette.

The Van Gogh Museum

Other attractions

Anne Frank House
The attic rooms where the Frank family hid out during the Second World War, reached through a door behind a hinged bookcase, are bare of furniture yet almost unbearably poignant, with magazine pictures pasted on the walls by Anne still in situ.

Expert hotel pick
Hotel Van Onna is a simple, well-run and clean hotel situated on a pretty canal. What more does one need?

Museum Van Loon
A peek indoors at the home of an Amsterdam patrician family. The 17th-century canalside mansion, one of the grandest in town, has been magnificently restored, to the last tinkling chandelier and lick of gilding.

Autumn events

Amsterdam Dance Event
October 16-20
The electronic music extravaganza is dubbed as the biggest music festival and conference in the world, featuring 2,000 artists and 450 events across 100 venues in the

Bokbier Festival
October 25-27
This annual beer festival takes place in the historic Beurs van Berlage building in the heart of the city, where visitors can sample over 50 varieties of bock beer accompanied by music from a live band.

Expert hotel pick
The Exchange Hotel is an affotable option on a hectic street between Centraal Station and the Dam, a heartbeat from the red-light district.

London Calling
November 1-2
This annaul music showcase features new bands from Britain and the US. Florence and the Machine, Bloc Party and Franz Ferdinand are among the artists who made their Dutch debut at the Paradisco stage where it all takes place.

Museum Night
November 2
Fifty museums across the city are open late into the night, presenting a variety of art, music, fashion and film activities and events, alongside their regular exhibitions.

The Rijksmuseum

Expert hotel pick
The Seven One Seven is a sumptuous canal-house hotel with the ambience of an (admittedly very grand) private home.

International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA)
November 20-December 1
Filmmakers from around the globe descend on Amsterdam for the 250 or so screenings that make up the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam, with energetic public debates and discussions on the go, too.

Additional research by Soo Kim

Click here to read the original article.


[Shameless plug: Check out Amsterdamsel Tours’ hotel recommendations for your visit to Amsterdam and check out our tours!]

A disused East German aircraft has been turned into a hotel suite by a hotel chain known for offering stays in bizarre locations.

The Soviet-made Ilyushin II-18 is now luxury accommodation complete with Jacuzzi, sauna, bar, luxury kitchen diner and a flat-screen television.

German news site The Local reported that the cockpit of the aircraft has been left intact, so guests can go straight from the luxury quarters to the pilot’s seat.

Come fly with me: The disused Ilyushin aircraft has undergone a transformation into a luxury holiday suiteCome fly with me: The disused Ilyushin aircraft has undergone a transformation into a luxury holiday suite

The luxurious hotel suite was a former East German government aeroplane, allegedly used by former leader Eric HoneckerThe Soviet-era plane was used by the East German government and may have once flown former leader Eric Honecker

The plane was originally used by East German leaders, and may have even transported former East German leader Erich Honecker.

Dutch entrepreneur Ben Thijssen, whose company also offers stays in other unusual places such as prisons and boats, said he had been looking for a plane to turn into a hotel for years.

When he found the Ilyushin it was already serving an unusual purpose – it was being used as a restaurant in a village near the old East German border.

Comfy: The sleeping area of the aircraft, which could originally seat 12o passengersComfy: The sleeping area of the aircraft, which could originally seat 120 passengers


Plush: The designers even incorporated a jacuzzi and saunaPlush: The designers even incorporated a jacuzzi and sauna

The dining area is elegant, but staring into your loves one's eyes over dinner may prove difficult as the seats are side-by-sideThe dining area is elegant, but staring into your loves one’s eyes over dinner may prove difficult as the seats are side-by-side

Swish: We can only wonder what staunch socialist Erich Honecker would have made of the opulent interiorSwish: We can only wonder what staunch socialist Erich Honecker would have made of the opulent interior

He bought it and shipped it across Germany to the Dutch village of Tegue. The renovation cost hundreds of thousands of euros and the plane can now sleep two in luxury.

He said: ‘You can sleep in all kinds of accommodation, but not in an airplane. I decided this was perfect.’

The plane, which once flew for the now-defunct East German state airline Interflug, is said to have carried leaders such as Erich Honecker. Thijssen said he had seen photos which seemed to show Honecker on the plane.

‘There’s actually not much known about it, especially because it was part of the East German government and they tried to keep such things secret,’ he said.

Departures: The plane is located by a small Dutch airportDepartures: The plane is located by a small Dutch airport

The lounge area. Many of the visitors are nostalgia enthusiasts from the former East Germany The lounge area. Many of the visitors are nostalgia enthusiasts from the former East Germany

History: The cockpit area of the disused Ilyushin 18 aircraft has been left intactHistory: The cockpit area of the disused Ilyushin 18 aircraft has been left intact

Its history makes it popular with Germany history enthusiasts, who often bring photos of their lives before the fall of the Berlin Wall with them for their stay.

A former Ilyushin pilot showed up for a night and was delighted to find the cockpit was as exactly as he remembered.

Mr Thijsen said: ‘One man even showed up in a pilot’s uniform then spent the day in the on-board sauna. The next day, he was dressed normally and his wife was in a flight attendant’s uniform.’

A stay in the plane starts at 350 euros per night.

Quirky: The company behind the converted plane is famous for offering stays in prisons and other unconventional localesQuirky: The company behind the converted plane is famous for offering stays in prisons and other unconventional locales

Thijssen said he had seen photos which seemed to show Erich Honecker on the plane, although it has been hard to verify because the regime was notoriously secretiveThijssen said he had seen photos which seemed to show Erich Honecker on the plane, although it has been hard to verify because the regime was notoriously secretive

Read the original article and see a video here.

Hotel Insider: Andaz Amsterdam Prinsengracht

Kipat Wilson on Dec 14, 2012

The welcome

A large flag helps me locate this five-star property set amid the pretty canals of Amsterdam’s city centre. Built in the 1970s as a public library, what was once an austere five-storey building has been transformed into an inviting luxury hotel with exuberant interiors by the Dutch designer Marcel Wanders. Once inside, I find myself in a lobby that has a fairy-tale atmosphere, with large, white bell-shaped chandeliers, rings of coloured lights and bright red, oversized chairs.

The neighbourhood

Prinsengracht is a classic Amsterdam street complete with cobblestones, bicycles, humpbacked bridges and canal boats sailing by, plus tall, grand, gabled buildings all squeezed together in a last-ditch effort to stay upright. It’s part of a well-heeled but not stuffy neighbourhood known as Nine Streets, which is full of charming little shops, engaging museums and snug spots to eat and drink. If you’re new to the city, you couldn’t find a more delightful place to start exploring.

The room

The 122 rooms (including five suites) have views over the canal, gardens or interior and are decorated in a fun style with white walls and a midnight blue ceiling. A large photo of a fish sits above the bed while a pair of clogs painted like a clown’s face hang on the opposite wall. Wi-Fi and the minibar are both complimentary, and there’s a small library of books related to Amsterdam.

The service

Slick and friendly. Unlike many hotels, there is no big reception desk in the lobby− just roving staff with tablet PCs who fix everything. The idea is to break down barriers, and it works.

The food

The Bluespoon Restaurant is an L-shaped space with a large, open kitchen at the corner. The menu focuses on local produce and includes traditional Dutch dishes such as codfish stamppot (mixed with mashed potatoes; €19 [Dh90]).

Breakfast is more successful – a sumptuous buffet (€29; Dh138) featuring Dutch fish, meat, cheeses and honey worth lingering over.

The scene

Since opening in October, the hotel has attracted a steady stream of visitors who appreciate the stress–diminishing style of Andaz properties.

Marcel Wanders has a well–deserved following too − described by The New York Times as the “Lady Gaga of the design world”, he co-founded the Moooi label and has worked with companies such as Alessi, MAC Cosmetics, KLM and Marks & Spencer. Everywhere you look you can see his touches, from the specially designed dinner plates to the hand-painted washbasins.

A mural entitled Alice in Amsterdam overlooks a large garden and courtyard, which will be a useful place to relax in summer. The property also has a fitness centre and a (small) Urban Spa with a mixed sauna and two treatment rooms.


The detail in Marcel Wanders’ designs. Many of the walls are covered with words and pictures relating to Amsterdam’s rich history, making the hotel feel like a walk-in book.


The 40 works of video art dotted around the public areas range from the decorative to the unsettling and include a large screen in the lobby showing a woman endlessly jumping up and down on a bed. It gets very tiresome − and the staff agreed.

The verdict

The pairing of Marcel Wanders’ playful designs with the feel-free philosophy of Andaz Hotels is a winning mix, and the canalside location is as good as it gets in Amsterdam.

The bottom line

A double room costs from €270 (Dh1,300) per night, including taxes. Andaz Amsterdam Prinsengracht, Prinsengracht 587, 1067 HT Amsterdam, Netherlands (; 00 31 20 523 1234).

Read more:

More on Andaz

Here’s a second article about the Andaz in the New York Times By STEPHEN HEYMAN

 DECEMBER 5, 2012

  • The lounge area in the new Andaz hotel in Amsterdam.
  • The lobby.
  • One of the bedrooms, with overlooking view of the canal.
  • Bluespoon Kitchen at Andaz sports an open view of the kitchen

The new Andaz hotel in Amsterdam opened in late October on the Prinsengracht, the longest and probably the loveliest of the canals that ring the Dutch capital. Its arrival is part of a mini hotel boom in Amsterdam, a welcome development for a first-rate city that has long lacked first-rate hotels. The Andaz was preceded by the opening of the supersleek Conservatorium Hotel; next year, according to the city’s visitors bureau, a five-star Waldorf-Astoria will arrive along with 13 other new hotels.

For the first Andaz on the continent (there’s already one in London), the Dutch design hero Marcel Wanders was given carte blanche to transform a former city library into an eye-popping fantasia of filigrees, gigantic-backed chairs, matte-black candelabra, “monster” chairs and huge bell-shaped light fixtures. It feels very “Alice in Wonderland,” and that’s obviously one of the many things Wanders had in mind, because towering over the hotel’s garden is a gigantic mural of “Alice in Amsterdam,” a wispy girl who’s bent over and clutching a big blue spoon. “We don’t know what she took,” the hotel’s publicist told me. “But she definitely took something.”

My modestly apportioned canal-view king room was laid out in a similar fashion as the rooms at the W hotel in London: the bathroom and shower are hidden inside mirrored closets; the sink is contained in a multipurpose island table, so you can wash up and then serve drinks on the same surface. Of course the room design has also been Wandersized: wallpapered above the bed was a gigantic photograph of a herring fused together with a Champagne flute, bisected by the triple-x symbol of Amsterdam. There are clogs nailed to the wall. The w.c. is covered in local trivia, written out in Delft blue script.

This is a big beer town, God bless, but sometimes a weary traveler is in the mood for a well-made cocktail, which can be a tall order in many European cities. The barman at the Andaz, however, could teach his countrymen a few things about mixing drinks: a classic old fashioned here was appealingly stiff and citrusy and the New York sour — with port wine and scotch instead of the typical red wine and rye — made for a deeply delicious nightcap. Bluespoon Bar, the Andaz’s canal-side lobby lounge, has already become such a hit with Amsterdammers that the hotel had to relocate its complimentary afternoon wine service to a parlor off the lobby in order to discourage freeloading among nonguests.

Andaz Amsterdam, Prinsengracht 587, 011-31-20-52-31-23-4; doubles from about $425.

Original New York Times post found here