Grand Hotel Amrâth Amsterdam
The Grand Hotel Amrâth Amsterdam occupies the fabulous structure on Prins Hendrikkade known locally as the Scheepvaarthuis or 'Maritime House'. It was on this building that many of the greatest names in Dutch modernism cut their teeth, and from which the signature flowing lines of the architectural style gained a named: the Amsterdam School. On the very spot where Cornelis Houtman and Peter de Keyser set off for the East Indies on 10 March 1595 (opening the chapter on Dutch maritime dominance), construction work began, in 1913, on grand headquarters for a number of major shipping lines, designed by Johan van der Mey – a complete unknown who would, in fact, turn out to be a bit of a one-hit wonder. The same can't be said for those who worked with him: Piet Kramer would later design more than 400 of the city's bridges and Michel de Klerk would come up with Het Schip in Westerpark. The extraordinary carvings on the façade of nautical motifs and Dutch explorers were the second commission for Hildo Krop, soon to make his mark as official city sculptor.
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Outrageous elegance are the key words here. Guests are made to feel like superstars - even the odd bona fide star drops in from time to time too - and lodge in colour-coded chromatherapy rooms designed to enhance the mood, like zingy raspberry, Zen-like black or toasty turmeric. Every detail, from chef Dennis Kuipers' North African-inspired menu to the careful alignment of the cushions in the public areas, is well thought through by the owners.
Seven one Seven
This rather well-kept secret of a hotel is the opposite of the grand gestures of the Amstel hotel, and the epitome of understated glamour. It's a small, flower-filled building that places emphasis on searching the globe for the best accoutrements - linens from the USA, bespoke blankets from Wales, box-spring mattresses from London. There is afternoon tea every day, and a patio for summer breakfasts or general lounging. Guests are the type that shed their euros on antiques in the Spiegelkwartier.
This former youth prison has been re-invented as one- to five-star accommodation complete with a new 'cultural embasssy'. Fitting in nicely in this harbour neighbourhood which has always been famed for its modern residential architecture, Lloyd features the work of hotshot Dutch designers, Atelier van Lieshout and Marcel Wanders.
Another hidden gem near museums and upmarket shopping opportunities, this thoroughly chic place is covered with art and boasts a lovely decked garden. Rooms, ranging from small to huge along with a junior and family suite, are thoroughly designer driven, with Burberry-checked blankets, chandeliers and swanky bathrooms. Unusually for such a trendy hotel, families are positively encouraged, which marks it out from snootier establishments.
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Convenient for Centraal Station, the docklands and hops across to Noord, this a good bet if you're looking for good, clean accommodation with the odd frill, like free in-house movies. Unless you are fooled by their 'luxury' rooms boast and come expecting the QEII, you'll be perfectly satisfied. The bar has long opening hours (from 9am to after midnight) and games like pinball and pool, plus a jukebox - ideal for pacifying youngsters on rainy days. Be warned that major renovations in the area mean that views aren't quite as watery or relaxing as they have been.
This snug shop is shaped like a long, sleek train carriage with a polished interior and high-quality ganja. It tends to fill up fast, but they have a separate space operating a similar policy under the same name next door. There you'll find a full bar, regular DJs and, if the drink and dope combination renders you immobile, a good variety of hotel rooms upstairs. Across the street is Getto, arguably the single best gay/straight-friendly bar in town, where the green smoke is also allowed.
Ibis Amsterdam Centre
If you're arriving in town late or leaving first thing, this place is ideal, not only because it's as close to the railway station as it's physically possible to be without actually being in it, but also because the bar is open 24 hours and breakfast begins at an eyelid-drooping 4am. There's no fancy business here - just the reliable Ibis formula of basic but comfortable rooms and reasonable facilities, plus their 'Fifteen Minute Satisfaction' promise: if a problem isn't sorted out in a quarter of an hour, your stay is free. Other branches of the Ibis hotel chain in Amsterdam are located at Valkenburgerstraat 68 (531 9135) near the Stopera, on Transformatorweg 36 (581 1111), and also at Schipholweg 181 (502 5100) in Badhoevedorp.