Boutique style in Amsterdam

Michelle Lewis explores Amsterdam and discovers a must-visit five-star boutique hotel

Michelle Lewis explores Amsterdam and discovers a must-visit five-star boutique hotel

 

How many anniversaries can a city cram into one year? Check out Amsterdam in 2013, which would break the world record if there was such a thing. The city’s canal ring is celebrating its 400th anniversary, and the Royal Concertgebouw and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam are 125 years old. The Artis Royal Zoo marks 175 years, artist Vincent Van Gogh turns 160, and the Van Gogh Museum turns 40. The Dutch are also celebrating 150 years of the abolition of slavery in the Dutch colony. And to top it off, the celebrated Rijksmuseum is re-opening after more than a decade of renovations in April 2013.

Next year is jam-packed with all sorts of exciting events to mark these occasions, including floating art exhibitions, concerts, canal swims, canal house tours and more. So it’s a great year for a visit, and it’s a short hop from either London Stansted or London City. (My husband and I flew CityJet from City for the first time: the airline was efficient, and the airport well-connected, compact and quick – no queues!)

The Dylan is a perfect hotel for a weekend break, because it’s a centrally located oasis on the Keizersgracht – it’s quiet, but within minutes of just about everything, as it’s within the “nine streets” shopping district. This five-star boutique hotel does luxury in a uniquely Dutch way: it’s understated yet fine. The current grand entrance gate is all that is left of the Dylan’s original building, a theatre, which was erected in 1632 but burned down in 1772. The current brick building with its fine tall windows was erected a year later. It belonged to a Catholic charity until it was renovated and reopened as a luxury boutique hotel in 1999.

The Dylan contains 40 hotel rooms, 11 of which were renovated in early 2011. There are six room styles, which feature everything from tall canopied beds to Asian style furniture and velvet chairs. The bathrooms boast perlato marble and deep baths for soaking. The hotel’s signature suite is the Dylan Thomas in room 10, with its silver-leaf makeup table, a king-size bed and antique closets. Our room had high ceilings, a huge bathroom and a beautiful view of the hotel’s inner courtyard garden.

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In the morning, we descended down a narrow, winding staircase to Vinkeles, the hotel restaurant, which is the site of a former bakery for the Catholic poor (it still contains the old ovens). The restaurant, headed by executive chef Dennis Kuipers, was awarded a Michelin star in 2009, and for breakfast, it offers up a beautiful spread of freshly squeezed juices, fruits, pastries, and eggs cooked to order.

Lunch is served in Brasserie OCCO in the room next door, where a tasting plate of four smaller dishes from the a la carte menu can be sampled. Or for a spin on high tea, the brasserie features high wine for €39.50 per person. Available every day between 3pm and 7pm, a selection of four different wines accompanied by four different amuse-bouches selected by Kuipers are showcased.

Amsterdam is so compact that even I, who have no sense of direction, can find my way around either on tram, foot or by bicycle (the hotel will happily lend you a set of wheels). But the staff at the Dylan are enormously helpful with directions, and they also offer a tour guide service if you want to find hidden gems and learn more about the city’s fascinating history. Our tour guide Pieter, a former history teacher, took us to his favourite pickled herring stand and taught us about how Amsterdam came to be a haven of religious tolerance.

If you want to splash out for dinner, book in at Vinkeles, or simply go for a wander in the evening until you find something that appeals. We chose a tasty Italian and ended up with first-floor window seats, a gorgeous canal view and great pasta. Or if you are more of a planner, ask Stuart, the helpful English concierge (who speaks fluent Dutch) to book a table for you – just choose a cuisine, and he’ll take care of the rest. The important thing in Amsterdam is just to relax and enjoy the buzzy yet laid-back atmosphere – and watch out for bikes.

 

SEE FOR YOURSELF

A double room at the Dylan starts at €325 (�269) per room per night, excluding 5% city tax and breakfast. Breakfast costs €28 per person.

For more information please visit: http://masonrose.com/dylan

For bookings contact: www.dylanamsterdam.com Tel: +31(0)20 530 2010

CityJet operates up to 8 flights a day between Amsterdam and London City - London's most central airport. One way fares start from as little as �70, including all taxes. To book flights visit www.CityJet.com or call reservations on 0871 666 50 50.

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