Photo courtesy of InterContinental Amstel Amsterdam
InterContinental Amstel Amsterdam
An Old World grande dame of the 19th-century tradition, the InterContinental Amstel Amsterdam presides over the Amstel River from its waterfront perch at the eastern edge of the original city. An imposing example of a Dutch take on French Renaissance Revival architecture of the period, the hotel—originally known as the Amstel Hotel—was conceived of by well-to-do Amsterdam doctor Samuel Sarphati in an effort to attract wealthy Grand Tour–goers to the struggling city. Since then, dignitaries from Queen Elizabeth II to former president Bill Clinton, and celebrities from Audrey Hepburn to George Clooney, have entered the imposing lobby—with its grand staircase, marble columns, and gilded chandeliers—and taken up residence in its opulent suites.
While in its latest iteration the hotel has updated itself in all the right ways, it still offers each guest the superlative but understated service that such royals (of both state and silver screen) would expect, down to the private butler service that comes with each room. The current French-inspired decor channels the building’s original architecture and includes romantic hand-drawn wallpaper in bedrooms. The unfussy, seasonal cuisine and craft cocktails in the restaurants and bars infuse the traditional space with modern sensibilities. Even the health club has its feet in both past and present: the thoroughly modern facilities were inspired by one of the forefathers of physiotherapy, who took up residence in the hotel and treated such distinguished clients as Empress Elisabeth of Austria there.
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On the eastern edge of the historic city center, perched over the Amstel River, the InterContinental Amstel sits just outside the major tourist centers, making the surrounding area quieter and more laid-back. The neighborhood is filled with river-view restaurants and cafés, such as the trendy De Ysbreeker and Two for Joy, and less-trafficked sights like the Artis Royal Zoo are within walking distance. The cool De Pijp neighborhood, home to the famous Albert Cuyp Market, isn’t far, and the Museumplein is a 25-minute walk—or much quicker bike ride.
Need to Know
Rooms: 79 rooms, 25 suites. From $440. Check-in: 2 p.m.; check-out: noon. Dining options:The Michelin-starred La Rive is the Amstel’s crown jewel, an elegant dining room on the waterfront that serves both inventive and classic tasting menus of seasonal ingredients, paired with world-class wines. The more relaxed, nautical-themed Brasserie—also with floor-to-ceiling windows and terrace dining—offers classics like a house burger alongside fresh seafood, seasonal salads, and a children’s menu. The drawing room–style Amstel Lounge and Terrace, with its armchairs and chandeliers indoors and river views outdoors, attracts guests and well-heeled locals for afternoon tea, low-key aperitifs, and romantic late-night drinks. The hotel’s newest addition, the slick, midcentury-meets-art-deco A bar, has quickly made its name as a discreet, see-and-be-seen cocktail hot spot, with Scandinavian small plates and an Asian-inspired tea served in the afternoons. Spa and gym details:The sprawling Amstel Health & Fitness Club practically guarantees that every hotel guest will feel healthy and pampered, with a heated indoor lap pool (with river views), sauna, hot tub, hammam, horizontal shower, health bar, massage treatments, and 24-hour fitness center. Personal training can be arranged, water aerobics classes are held regularly, bicycles can be rented from the front desk, and each room comes equipped with a map of running trails.
Who's it best for: Lovers of classic luxury and Old World glamour. Travelers who like to keep fit on the road. Our favorite rooms:The two split-level Penthouse Suites are among the luxury hotel’s most decadent, with an elegant wooden staircase and a private top-floor balcony that make it feel like a royal’s private palace apartments. Vintage cruise:For a truly memorable occasion, book one of the hotel’s restored, 100-year-old saloon boats for a private meal, canal tour, or progressive culinary experience on the city’s waterways.