When it’s time to return to Europe, think about putting Amsterdam on the itinerary. You may well have done it before but there is always some new to blend with the old.
Take the historic Hotel de L’Europe, right in the centre of town at Nieuwe Doelenstraat. Constructed out of neighbouring canal-set buildings dating back to 1896, this one-off hotel has the advantage of being owned, privately by the Heineken family. It, therefore, enjoys all the advantages of any property that is not part of a big investment fund portfolio. It is not part of a massive and impersonal hotel ‘brand’. All in all, it means GM Edward Leenders can make decisions quickly.
As soon as lockdown started, he began to talk to local creators on how to make the property’s public spaces welcoming. He particularly talked with Dax Roll and Joyce Urbanus, a couple who run Nicemakers. With their help, he persuaded local bookshop MENDO to move, lock, stock and barrel into the hotel. This saved them rent and overheads of their previous headquarters, and it brought life into an under-used room in the hotel, the Johannes van Dam Library. Bookstore clients now came into the hotel.
Edward Leenders came to a similar arrangement with a floral design duo, Florian Seyd and Ueli Signer. This savvy business-oriented pair moved the entire Wunderkammer flower workshop into the hotel.
One more thing: Hotel de L’Europe already had three restaurants and bars, all popular with local people, and now there is also a new casual trattoria, Graziella. The result of all this is that Hotel de L’Europe is seeing more younger guests – or at least young-at-heart – and it sounds as if staying there is, if it is possible, even more fun than ever.
I have always loved Hotel de L’Europe, a Leading Hotel of the World, for so many reasons. The deep crimson theatre of a spacious lobby has all-wall windows at the far end, looking out over canals. A back-lit metal silhouette of Fredy Heineken looks down at a display of tempting macarons. There are double-size blow-ups of Rembrandt likenesses, from the nearby Rijksmuseum, on another wall. Of the 111 rooms, some display other Rijksmuseum vignettes (#424’s blue and white wallpaper is hung with Chinese porcelain). Breakfast in the all-day Bord’Eau is unmissable, not only for the meal’s produce and service but views across to the renowned Flower Market.