Amsterdam reminds us of a home we’d see in Asia. This would be an abode that has walls within walls within walls, like a mini-city in and of itself, with the servants’ quarters within the outer walls and the inner most sanctum occupied by the mistress of the household. In other words, Amsterdam is a multi-layered onion. We say this because Amsterdam reveals itself in many layers, but it takes patience and multiple visits to unlock each gate.
Your first and most rudimentary view of Amsterdam will be that it is an adult Disneyland. With legalized drugs and regulated prostitution, those visiting from more Puritan coasts will often not get to appreciate the coolness of this city.
It’s the sad truth.
On your first trip to Amsterdam you’ll most likely stay at the NH, a utilitarian hotel located near the bustling Leidseplein Square where you can bar and club-hop, all without once needing to get into a cab.
You may have had a few laughs, but deep down you know you haven’t experienced the city.
Then you come on business, and with Holland being an attractive corporate governance hub, there will be many an opportunity to do so, to check the box on the residence requirement. You stay at Hotel De L’Europe smack in the middle of the flower market and wonder how you’ve ever stayed anywhere else. The rich red velvet and rows of crystal and gold chandeliers warm and blind you at the same time. The red light district is nearby, which you find titillating whether you take a jaunt down there or not.
You sense there’s more to Amsterdam – and hope you return.
At some point you will be offered an upgraded business experience, where you get booked at the Amstel Hotel. You feel as if you have arrived. The old and gentle elegance of the Amstel offers you multiple levels of verandahs for you to sit by the canals and be pensive – at water level, dock level, and then from above. Hotel De L’Europe now seems like a tired madame. You cringe at its unfortunate location near the red light district. Another Disneyland feature of Amsterdam.
But you only truly arrive upon entering through the wrought-iron gates of the Dylan on Keizergracht. After walking through a stone courtyard with simple bistro tables and chairs, you peek to the right to find a discretely located front desk with comfortable long sofas and a carafe of sparking water with berries and mint. God forbid a guest must stand to check in!
You are led to your room, which is a duplex suite opening straight onto the inner courtyard. The lower level has a bathroom suite with a walk-in closet, soaking tub, and rain shower. Music flows through hidden Bose speakers, and the TV is not showing hotel advertisements.
You are shown Vinkeles, a one-Michelin star restaurant. They are fully booked for the weekend, but of course arrangements can be made for hotel guests if we wish. A cozy lounge has a gas fireplace that is lit 24 hours, providing the right level of ambience for a Dutch August – sprinkles and showers in between gorgeous sun rays.
You vow that you will never stay anywhere else in Amsterdam but the Dylan. And you thank the tasteful gentleman who recommended the Dylan to you.
Image Courtesy of the Dylan