THIS presumably set out to be the coolest hotel in Amsterdam, and it largely succeeds.
Formerly the Conservatory of Music, its architecture is Neo-Gothic, so it has an exterior of pointed gables and turrets, and interior halls and corridors with arches, columns, tiles and much marble. To this has been added a modern conservatory-like atrium with floor to ceiling windows and a glass ceiling which forms the restaurant and lounge area. The courtyard terrace it overlooks must be a delight in sunny weather, and the room is filled with light on even the gloomiest day, for the separation of the restaurant and lounge/reception area comprises glass cases filled with fine Dutch ceramics, adding to the sense of light and space. The Conservatorium’s partner hotels, in what is known as The Set, are the Café Royal in London, and the Hotel Lutetia in Paris.
BUDGET OR BOUTIQUE?
The image is definitely boutique, and the prices certainly not budget, with rooms from ¤345 to ¤4,750 (£254 to £3,487), but there are offers on packages and through websites such as booking.com.
There are 120 rooms and suites, and all have the same decor of varying shades of greige and, as in the lounge, low Italian furniture, but the differences are in how they have used the space in the old building. So a room with modern decor can have a Neo-Gothic window, or rafters and beams, and a loft-like feel. The bathrooms are plain and straight edged, but wall to wall marble. There are also clever electrical controls for everything which can sometimes defeat the guests (us).
WINING AND DINING
The Brasserie is in the atrium and does all-day dining from breakfast through to lunch, afternoon tea and dinner. There is also the Tunes Bar with a live DJ on Fridays and Saturdays, and judging by the numbers, it’s one of the most popular in Amsterdam. Then there’s the Taiko restaurant with chef Schilo Van Coevorden. This darker, more intimate space, they insist, is not a fusion restaurant, but it does marry the flavours of Japan with the Dutch traditional liking for fish and seafood. Expect a menu that includes daikon salad, black cod, and wagyu beef as a meat course, with the cost for four courses ¤74, or eight courses ¤95, which when compared with Nobu is very reasonable.
WORTH GETTING OUT OF BED FOR
The Van Gogh Museum is right across the road, and the Rijksmuseum is 100 yards further on, where you can see the best of Vermeer and Rembrandt, including the mighty The Night Watch. Anne Frank’s House is an almost obligatory visit, or you can just walk along by the canals, see the street markets, the antique shops and the coffee shops.
There are Nespresso machines in every room, but the really great extra is the Spa, with its machine room, treatment rooms, sauna, hammam and gigantic pool. If you are lucky enough to have it to yourself, you will experience a Zen-like calm and feel as cool as the hotel.
I arrived feeling unwell and the English speaking staff were kindness itself. This is an ultra modern hotel with the best of old fashioned manners.
Conservatorium Hotel, Van Baelestraat 27, 1071 Amsterdam (003120 570 0000, conservatoriumhotel.com). Flights to Amsterdam from Edinburgh and Glasgow with easyJet from £52, and with KLM/Air France from Aberdeen