The Conservatorium | Amsterdam
Amsterdam and its people are enviably cool, it’s hardly a secret. As a city it is both relaxed and busy in equal measures - its inhabitants buzz about their daily lives on their famous Dutch bikes, zipping from one place to another with such ease and style. It’s a civilised and creative destination that has so much to offer, you could return time and time again, and never get bored.
Arriving at The Conservatorium on this visit we knew we had discovered a rather special place. The hotel oozes a refined sense of style from the moment you set foot inside, instantly making you feel both welcome and at one with it all. While many buildings of this scale are likely to impress with their history and grandeur, they can sometimes feel a little austere and intimidating. Not so with the Conservatorium. With its confident luxurious design, coupled with attentive and friendly staff, it maintains an enticing allure that is hard to resist.
Situated literally next door to the Museumplein (museum square), the city’s main cultural area, The Conservatorium’s neighbours include the ultra modern Stedelijk Museum (contemporary art & design), the Van Gogh Museum, the Rijksmuseum and the Royal Concertgebouw (concert hall).
P.C.Hoofstraat, the city’s luxury shopping street, runs parallel to the hotel on one side, offering everything from Mulberry to Jimmy Choo, Cartier to Chanel. As locations go it’s hard to beat, and with such close proximity to the the canals with their famous 17th century gabled architecture, you are ideally placed for getting out and about and exploring the city by foot. We popped into the extremely slick Apple store for emergency tech supplies before heading further afield to Mooi for an obligatory design fix, and then returning to the hotel to relax.
Originally built in 1897, in the Neo-Gothic style fashionable at the time, the building was home to the city’s Rijkspostpaarbank (Dutch savings bank) for over 90 years until they eventually relocated. In the early 1980s the newly formed Sweelinck Conservatorium took up residency there, housing its three musical institutes, and the building again buzzed with activity and cultural significance. They too outgrew the space and relocated in 2008 allowing the building to reinvent itself once more. The Conservatorium, named appropriately after its former occupants and owned and run by The Set (who also own the Café Royal in London), opened at the end of 2011 after major remodelling work.
Created by the renowned Milan-based designer Piero Lissoni, the hotel embodies an ultra-hip mix of history, design, style and ambience, along with an attention to detail that succeeds in celebrating the building’s past while also offering a sophisticated and luxurious experience for the 21st century traveller. Design details include a carefully chosen palette of materials, texture, colour, lighting and fragrances that combine together to sophisticated effect. Wide transitional spaces throughout the hotel combine the best of both period and contemporary details and classic designs from the likes of Achille Castiglioni and Marcel Wanders are mixed with sumptuous and minimal lounge furniture, ensuring guests are looked after in refined style.
And so to the rooms. We stayed in a Deluxe room which was generously sized with a comfortable working space, but the same attention to detail has been given to the design of all rooms, regardless of size, whether in the luxury linens or the beautiful natural stone lining the opulent bathrooms. All technology needs are covered with unobtrusive state of the art communications and lighting and daylight control at the push of a button.
The clean lined decor is a hybrid of modernist and contemporary chic with a warm autumnal colour palette - brushed oak flooring and beige, charcoal or tan leather furniture and upholstery. Little details like a hand written welcome note, the abundant fruit bowl, Culti room fragrance and the tiny bottle of scented pillow spray on the bedside table made the room an inviting sanctuary to retreat to at the end of a long day.
I should add a further note on the sheets. I have something of an obsession with bed linen and, while you might expect the finest thread count sheets to come as standard in a luxury hotel, along with the wonderfully soft down mattress topper, the bed linen at The Conservatorium really was heavenly.
Descending the dark steel staircase into the covered glass courtyard and lobby the following morning, I headed down to Akasha, the hotel's serene spa, where I was lucky enough to have the pool entirely to myself for my early morning swim. What bliss!
Breakfast is usually served in the courtyard brasserie but on the morning we stayed this was being prepared for an event, so we instead enjoyed a delicious healthy start to the day at Taiko, The Conservatorium's Asian inspired restaurant.
After breakfast we were shown around by our host Nina, who gave us a peek into the exclusive 'Van Baerle' and 'I Love Amsterdam' suites, the latter having various levels of accommodation including a mezzanine floor, sunken bath and a 'secret' spiral staircase via which guests can access their own private rooftop terrace with 360 degree panoramic views across the city.
If you are looking for a luxury contemporary hotel in Amsterdam with an authentic past, true personality and a serious sense of style then The Conservatorium is most definitely worth marking in your address book.
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Images courtesy of The Conservatorium except 7, 13,14,15 and 16 which are by Design Hunter.