Wednesday newsletters always feature a luxury hotel and/or flight review.
Today: Review of the W Amsterdam (Netherlands).
Just steps away from the vibrant Dam Square and the Royal Palace, the recently opened W Amsterdam features 238 stylish guest rooms and suites spread across two historic buildings, an erstwhile telephone exchange building (from the 1920s) and a 1906 former bank with a quiet road in between. Guests arrive in style when they check in at the rooftop W Lounge, the W brand’s re-interpretation of the traditional hotel lobby, on the sixth floor of the Exchange building. Looking out to the Royal Palace and lively historic centre, the 22 meter (72 ft) Wet Deck is Amsterdam’s first rooftop pool and is heated in winter.
W Amsterdam features in my top 10 list of Europe’s best hotel rooftops and in my list of the 40 hottest luxury hotel openings of 2015.
In this review (more info below my Youtube clip & slideshow):
- Pros & things I like
- Cons & things to know
- My verdict
- Tips for future guests & save money
- Best time to visit
- How to get there
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PROS & THINGS I LIKE
- The hotel enjoys a super-central location in the Dutch capital, probably the best one of all hotels in Amsterdam. It’s located behind the Royal Palace, a stone’s throw from Dam Square, and steps from the city’s iconic canal district with its vibrant restaurants, bars and nightlife scene. It’s quite amazing that the Starwood Hotel Group was able to secure this terrific spot in Amsterdam.
- The hotel is located in two buildings, with a quiet street in between. The main wing is housed in a gorgeously refurbished, former telephone Exchange building, a historic property constructed in the Amsterdam School style of architecture. It opened last spring, and has 169 stylish guestrooms, including 10 suites and one Extreme Wow Suite (the W brand’s interpretation of the Presidential Suite). Within the Exchange building, you also find a spectacular rooftop (with swimming pool) and the excellent Mr. Porter restaurant, but more on that later.
- The hotel’s second wing across the street is located in the Bank building and is still under renovation (although it is expected to open soon). It will have an additional 66 contemporary guestrooms and suites, many overlooking the famous UNESCO-listed Singel canal, as well as a signature Away Spa, nightclub and destination bar. The Bank building also includes the W Amsterdam’s signature The Duchess restaurant and a ‘creative incubator’ concept space, providing a platform for local talent to showcase their fashion, art and design work and also featuring locally curated products. Both the restaurant and the creative incubator concept have opened already.
- The hotel’s Exchange wing – where I stayed during my visit – has two trendy lobbies: a low-key entrance lobby on the ground level, from where two elevators shuttle guests to the main lobby (where check-in is done) on the hotel’s 6th floor rooftop.
- The hotel’s spectacular rooftop floor is the architectural and social highlight of the hotel. It is a vast, glass-walled, rectangular-shaped space, wrapped around a courtyard and extending over the entire top of the Exchange building. It contains two check-in desks, a trendy lounge (with two open fires), two bars, several outdoor terraces, and Mr Porter Restaurant.
- Although it is not the highest building in Amsterdam, the rooftop offers terrific city views nonetheless. One side of the hotel looks directly onto the Royal Palace while the other three sides offer a view over Amsterdam’s rooftops. Even if you are not staying at the hotel, you should visit the rooftop lounge to have a drink and enjoy the vibe and panoramic views. Drinks range from traditional to eclectic and everything in between, as do the clientele, making people-watching a spectator sport.
- The rooftop terrace fronting the Royal Palace has a visually stunning infinity pool. Although this outdoor pool is very small (only 2 m or 6,5 ft), it runs almost the entire length of the cornice (22 m or 72 ft), so you can swim laps if you want to. In addition, the pool is heated, making a dip in winter possible.
- W Amsterdam boasts a minimalist style and industrial chic design, with lots of mellow grey shades, colorful artwork, bright spaces, heigh ceilings, and concrete floors. It brings a touch of New York’s trendy hotel scene to the Dutch capital.
- The hotel features 238 guest rooms and suites, each one of them mixing historical details with contemporary features. During my visit I stayed in a so-called Wonderful Room, across the street from the Royal Palace. While not very large, it did feel spacious nonetheless because of the high ceiling and glass outside-wall. The room was very well appointed and the technology and audio was outstanding. It featured a super-comfy kingsized bed, an open-plan bathroom with a peek-a-boo shower, as well as a restroom and closet hidden behind a glassed door. After I checked in the room, the staff delivered a lovely and sexy plate with welcome snacks.
- The hotel features two excellent and highly recommended dining venues. Mr Porter restaurant is located on the rooftop floor of the Exchange building and artfully blends a modern steakhouse’s prestige with the buzz of a chic lounge. Mr Porter’s entrance is marked by a walkway that leads past a glass display of dry aged meat. The hotel’s other restaurant, The Duchess, is located in a sumptuously decorated space (with a stained-glass ceiling) in the Bank building. It has more the feel of a French brasserie and its menu comprises exquisite Mediterranean produce combined with light and refined flavors from Southern France and Italy.
- The delicious breakfast is served at mr Porter Restaurant and it is a hot contender for the very best and most original breakfast in town. Not only does it have the customary continental buffet, but it also features plenty of never-heard-of juices (e.g. cucumber & spinach, celery & apple) and very original salads (e.g. green beens, pomegranate, and blue cheese). In addition, you can also order one hot dish per person (e.g. pancakes or eggs benedict).
- W Hotels definitely target a young, tech-savvy, modern market, and it is not different in this hotel: there is a trendy ambience, young staff, and music everywhere. Whenever, whatever. The hotel has definitely a WOW factor and it’s one of my two favorite W hotels around the world, the other one being the W Barcelona (and I have visited many of them around the globe).
CONS & THINGS TO KNOW
The W Amsterdam is one of the best luxury hotels in the Dutch capital, and at the moment, everything is shiny and new. It is hard to beat the hotel’s central location, young vibe, excellent restaurants, and spectacular rooftop. And it will only become better in the near future when the hotel opens its new wing with even more facilities. The hotel only has a few cons that you need to know when staying here:
- Some of the cheaper priced guest rooms look out onto the not so attractive courtyard, so make sure that you book a room with a view if you want to avoid ending up in one of these rooms.
- The frosted glass shower areas in the guest rooms lack privacy and may be troublesome if you are staying in the same room with a companion that you do not feel too comfortable with.
- Although all rooms are equipped with floor and wall isolation as well as high energy saving double glass, if you end up in a room fronting the busy, main street and Royal Palace, you will suffer from street noise with non-stop traffic and tram noise, especially during the day. I would advise the hotel to tripleglaze these rooms.
- The elevators are bit slow, so from time to time, you may have to wait a few minutes before you can enter or leave the hotel (if you don’t want to use the stairs).
- I was surprised that most of the staff are not very fluent (yet) in Dutch as they come from countries all over the world, although that will not be an issue to most guests.
- Location: 9/10
- Design: 9/10
- Rooms: 8/10
- Food: 9/10
- Service: 8/10
- Overall experience: very good: 8,6/10
TIPS & SAVE MONEY
- Save money: read my tips for getting the best deal at a luxury hotel like the W Amsterdam. Book a room at the cheapest price and/or receive many free perks!
- Book your room on the official hotel, Starwood or SPG website to receive complimentary WiFi.
- Request a room away from the main street or on a higher floor if you are a light sleeper.
- Starwood Preferred Guests (SPG) with Gold or Platinum status are well treated, with – amongst other benefits – free high-speed WiFi, complementary room upgrade (when available), early check-in or late check-out (when available), and free breakfast (SPG platinum). Click here to read our review of the SPG program (with pros & cons).
- Read my tips for preparing your trip in time.
BEST TIME TO VISIT
Amsterdam is best visited between April and May (spring) or September through November (autumn), right before or directly after the summertime high tourist season. You’ll contend with fewer tourists, you’ll enjoy somewhat mild temperatures (the city’s weather is notoriously finicky), and you’ll also experience Amsterdam as the locals do, at its laid-back best.
HOW TO GET THERE
Amsterdam can easily be reached by plane, train or car. For those coming by plane, the hotel is located a 30-minute cab ride from Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (AMS). Check the Wikipedia page of Amsterdam Airport Schiphol for an updated list of airlines that offer direct flights to Amsterdam.
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