Mary Gostelow delves into experiences in Amsterdam

Girlahead discovers Hotel De l'Europe

Hotels are increasingly becoming experience centres that happen to have beds. At Hotel De l’Europe Amsterdam the experiences are ABC, art, books and cigars, with canals, food and drink and lovely service thrown in.

ART. The hotel is owned by the Heineken family and it might be 1896 vintage but boy it’s 2022. The airy lobby used to be dominated by three mega-crystal chandeliers. They’re still there but top billing now goes to the walls’ priceless display of Dutch Old Masters from the private collection amassed by the late Freddy Heineken – a back-lit metallic outline silhouette of him is tucked in between the oils.

BOOKS. Where else can you dine with David Hockney, Annie Leibowitz and their ilk? Actually David Hockney and Annie Leibowitz are two of the limited-edition TASCHEN Bigger Books that would break a foot if they fell off the Marc Newsom stands included in the US$5,500 cover price. The central display table in the centre of one of Europe’s all-time great bookstores, the ultra-modern Mendo, becomes private dining, for up to ten. Mendo, which has a street entrance, is permanently based here, in Hotel De l’Europe. Any time, browse, lounge, network with like-minded culture-seekers, and even buy. The often-there owner, a heart-throb Rwandan investment banker, is of the dispense-bubbly to encourage sales school of thought, which certainly encourages purchase.

CIGARS. Don’t have a fit but if you want to meet local A-list fashionistas head to a session of the hotel’s unique Salome cigar club. Sadly, guys, it’s girls only, and local laws mean that the club has to meet and puff out on a terrace (brush away any lingering whiffs with a spa facial).

And now for the other stuff. An all-wall window at the end of the hotel lobby looks over the River Amstel. Turn left to a new Champagne library bar. Turn right, to Marie brasserie, named for Freddy’s grandmother. Eat and drink inside or, down 14 wood stairs, outside, on a floating year-round terrace.

For mostly-plant-based modern Aussie-style cuisine, head to Michelin-starred Flore restaurant (Bas van Kranen’s best-selling vegetables of the day has at least 25 varieties). Its carpet evolves from grey by the entrance to soft mushroom by the window over the water. Its walls are a woodland view that continues around the room. Look up to ceiling-suspended platelet-shaped panels of clouds. For alternative dining, choose one of the ravioli specials in Graziella. Taste gins in Freddy’s Bar. Cruise canals in Hilda, coincidentally also 1896-vintage. Charge whatever, even the Hockney couriered wherever, to your bill.

Oh yes, the BEDROOMS.

There are 97 rooms, all showing how local designers Nicemakers have chosen soft colours, obviously-expensive sculpted fabrics, and some wall panels of pale wood marquetry.

Anything else new at Hotel De L’Europe Amsterdam? Well, the recently appointed GM Robert-Jan Woltering, also known as the Flying Dutchman, has just landed, back home from a long stint in Mexico – many will remember his flamboyant creativity during ILTMs North America, at Mayakoba.

Mary Gostelow publishes the daily and a unique weekly 15-minute industry Mary Gostelow Girlahead Podcast, both part of Almont Global.

Robert Jan Woltering, General Manager

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