I have stayed at some great hotels, but none were like the Andaz Amsterdam. None of them. No hotel has impressed me as much as this Hyatt brand of hotel has. It's so good, it warrants an entire blog post. And here is why - right from the word check-in, you're really made to feel like you've stepped into a little slice of Amsterdam.
The hotel is located on one of the hottest streets in Amsterdam called Prinsengracht, a street along the city's most prestigious canal. A lot of the city's attractions are a short walk away. The hotel is designed by the famous Dutch designer Marcel Wanders. So no wonder hints of this vibrant old city of Amsterdam peek out from the interiors to induct you into Dutch culture. The lobby was stunning - with its prominently blue interiors, there was a touch of quirk everywhere. From the very high ceiling is suspended an enormous artsy lighting-cum-chandelier installation.
Above each reception desk there are huge white bell-shaped chandeliers.
On one side there's a 'bouquet' of tulip-shaped chairs again saluting the prized Dutch flower. Sit in one of them and you'll feel like you've shrunk.
One of the most iconic structures in the hotel is the statue of the Prince of Lost Dreams, from whom the name Prinsengracht comes. There are 12 princes around the hotel dressed in traditional Dutch wear.
Their front desk staff are extremely friendly, courteous and even play the role of the perfect concierge. I received an early check-in to the room no questions asked and was treated to fresh orange juice. After a swift and painless iPad check in, they took me on a walk around the hotel and handed me a city map acquainting me to the neighborhood. They even helped pre-book some of my day trip tickets and museum tickets so that I could skip waiting in the long queues. Seriously, fantastic service. They don't fake their smiles, and are actually interested in knowing about you and your trip, and never hesitate to engage in a lovely conversation.
Quirkiness continues in the rooms as well. The ceiling was painted dark Amsterdam blue. The wallpaper behind the bed post had a creepy fish designed on it. Even the wall sported a pair of yellow Dutch clogs.
A Delft Blue porcelain wash basin with furious blue strokes (each wash basin is painted by Marcel Wanders himself) and mirror were placed right in the room and there was an enclosed shower glass cubicle on one side and a separate cubicle for a toilet on the other. The toilet cubicle was my favourite! The cubicle's white and prussian and violet blue wallpaper was studded with interesting trivia about Amsterdam's rich past. You can spend as long as you want in the cubicle wandering without getting bored.
From our full-length window, we could see part of the lobby's glimmering chandelier. It was a beautiful spot to sit at in the evening.
Each room has a book shelf paying homage to the building's literary past - before it became Andaz, the building was home to a library. The book collection included coffee table books on Amsterdam's history and culture, including a book authored by Marcel Wanders himself, as well as light-hearted amusing reads by authors like Roald Dahl.
The good news is that the minibar stocked with popular local goodies is yours to have. Except the alcoholic drinks, everything in the minibar is complimentary!
They have an impressive set of teas and coffees you can enjoy in the room. The coffee machine at first seems complicated to operate, but dial for assistance on the phone and they can give you a step-by-step instructions on how to make the best cuppa using the machine.
Connecting to the WiFi too is as easy as turning your phone WiFi on. Simple. There are no complicated passwords. The welcome is just made sweeter with some delicious dry fruit cake and a handwritten note from the General Manager himself.
Andaz has a library on the lobby level, right next to the entrance where all day long you can pop in for some complimentary coffee, tea, fresh juices, soft drinks and biscotti. A real big deal especially when you come back so exhausted after a day of discovering Amsterdam on foot. In the evening for two hours, they also serve complimentary wine and crackers and encourage this time for guests to interact with one another. And of course, the library had books, lots of books. And pictures. One in particular that stood out to me was Anne Frank's circular picture frame (the iconic Anne Frank house - now a museum - is a few blocks away on 263 Prinsengracht.) Sometimes, I'd just take my cup of coffee from the library and step out of the hotel, sit by the canal and watch Amsterdammers and tourists embracing dusk.
But there's as much to explore inside the hotel as there is outside. Andaz has an Alice in Amsterdam themed garden (inspired by Alice in Wonderland). The landscape artist has made a piece of Lewis Carroll's imagination come alive here. The space is small but it's been used ingeniously. The garden has quiet spots with an unexpected touches like a fireplace in one nook and a wrought iron bed post bursting with plants bursting on another, and flowers big and small studding the garden. The garden really is like walking into a lush labyrinth.
At a level below the lobby is a red coloured passage with infinite mirrors that leads to you the spa. Even if you don't intend on getting a massage, it's worth going underground and admiring the strange interiors.
The lobby level also houses the Bluespoon Bar and Restaurant. It has an open kitchen where their chefs work their magic. While you enjoy your breakfast and other meals there, it's interesting to observe the chefs as they interact with each other, laugh, cook and well, just have a great time between all the chopping, stirring and tasting. The breakfast spread was great - cold cuts, breads, cakes, pastry, yogurt and some usual suspects like grilled tomato, herbed wedges and mushrooms. The standout for me was the velvety salmon slivers that I enjoyed with local mustard sauce and a generous drizzle of fresh lemon.
Something I find extremely fascinating about the hotel is the Andaz GM's run. Every Wednesday, hotel guests are encouraged to join the General Manager on his 7AM run around the city. What a way to explore Amsterdam! If you prefer to stay indoors, there's also a 24 hour fitness centre at the hotel. The front desk staff can also recommend running/jogging routes in the city if you prefer a solo outdoor work out routine.
Uncomplicated, intuitive and immersive - these are three words that I can use to describe my stay at the hotel. As you can guess, checking in at the Andaz is a journey by itself. There's never a dull moment and there's always something to explore. And to ready you for your Dutch exploration, they've got an umbrella on standby and a cycle waiting for you. And, yes, say hello to Paula from Front Desk for me.
Address: 587 Prinsengracht, Amsterdam
Tel: +31 (0) 20 523 1234