A Cultured Night’s Sleep: Navigating Amsterdam’s Art Hotels
By Kristen McKenzie
Amsterdam might be most well-known for its canals, tulips, red-light district and cannabis cafes, but the historic Dutch metropolis could equally be defined by its extraordinary art scene. Once home to the likes of Rembrandt and Van Gogh, the city’s creative streak is still very much alive and thriving ““ it would literally take visitors weeks to navigate all the galleries and public exhibits on offer!
But if you really want to absorb Amsterdam’s cultural landscape, a stay at one of its quirky art hotels is a must. Having popped up across Europe in recent years, these innovative, unique properties are the ideal way to get a true feel of an area’s artistic vibe.
To experience a different facet of Amsterdam ““ away from the hustle and bustle of the city centre ““ this is the place to go. Located in the Westerpark District of Amsterdam on the edge of the harbour, guests to this eccentric property are first greeted by brightly-painted cow sculptures. From there, the hotel is decked with colourful artwork from famous Dutch painter Herman Brood and its Arts Brasserie cafe is plastered with funky art posters. Overall, this hotel is a vibrant, warm and slightly more budget-friendly option for an artsy Netherlands stay.
Sharing the same co-founders as The Lloyd, the Exchange is a design hotel with stunning and sometimes strange décor (imagine sparse rooms dotted with mannequins and draped in rope and wire). Centrally located and just a hop, jump and a skip away from the infamous red-light district, the hotel has partnered with the Amsterdam Fashion Institute to create 61 entirely original quarters. The concept is that rooms appear to have been “dressed” as if they were fashion models ““which certainly produced some interesting results!
This trendy hotel hosts various art exhibitions throughout its ground floor and features a sleek, modern design inspired by renowned Dutch artists. But what really makes this hotel different is its approach to food and drink ““ here, cuisine is considered just as much of an art as a painting or a sculpture. Ingredients are skilfully combined to create mini masterpieces on the plate; concoctions can include eggshells as sauce containers, strawberry-filled oyster shells and fruit cocktails served in pear skin. The food and drink design menu at the hotel’s Restaurant-Bar De Stijl is always changing, so be sure to expect the unexpected!
If you want to spend the night at this one-of-a-kind art emporium, you’d better book early ““ there’s only one bedroom on offer! The rest of the vast space in this 17th-century heritage building is occupied with exhibitions, exclusive design stores, a carefully landscaped “fairy tale” indoor garden and a chic café and tearoom. But if you do get a chance to sleep here, the airy, contemporary boudoir is well worth the effort.
Formerly serving as both a prison and artist studios, the halls of the Lloyd Hotel today boast an impressive Cultural Embassy program. Special projects and events ranging from visiting art collections to musical performances are regularly on offer, with the majority available free of charge. A calendar of what’s on is accessible on the hotel’s website and is worth checking out before planning your visit. In terms of accommodation, the hotel’s 117 rooms are created from the collective talents of more than 50 Dutch designers, all differing in size and interior, promising a unique visit each and every time. Its sliding scale of affordability makes it accessible for starving artists and executives alike thanks to a range of one-to-five star chambers. And did we mention there’s a fully-stocked library where book readings, exhibitions and lectures are frequently held?
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