If the last time you ventured to the Dutch capital was an inter-railing pitstop or hen do, Amsterdam is ripe for re-discovery. Pieced together through its unique network of canals, the city is an appealing mélange of old and new, with hidden gems to be found at every twist and turn. As well as the pull of big ticket attractions such as the Rijksmuseum (a treasure trove of Old Masters and antiquities), it can count a vibrant food and drink scene, stacks of culture and off-beat boutique shopping among its many charms. Set in the heart of Amsterdam's chicest neighbourhood is the Pulitzer Amsterdam, a sprawling hotel built on 25 restored seventeenth and eighteenth century buildings, previously home to the city's flourishing merchant class. Its fascinating back story dates back to the capital's Golden Age, and the hotel's stylish décor seamlessly weaves old world callbacks into cutting edge interiors. Here's what you need to know before making a reservation...
Much of the Pulitzer’s charm derives from the effortless way it manages to balance its fascinating heritage with the best of modern design (and a consideration of the guest's every convenience, too). Each of the hotel's five 'extraordinary' suites nods towards each building's history. We stayed in the Pulitzer suite, a room like no other which, in a former life, was owned by one of the city's well-to-do merchants, boasting high ceilings, an old-style mini bar and charmingly eclectic decor, which encompasses old-fashioned luxury and minimalist chic. The real talking point is the free standing roll top bath, which takes pride of place in the centre of the room (for those without latent exhibitionist tendencies, the shower is liberally stocked with Le Labo toiletries). Bibliophiles would be well advised to seek out the (adptly named) Book Collector's suite, which makes striking architectural features from a stash of antique and contemporary tomes.
When to go
Amsterdam locals will joke that the Dutch capital can cram four seasons into one day, a nod to the city’s notoriously unpredictable weather, so don’t rule out the possibility of a downpour even in the sunnier months (or make sure you’ve borrowed a sturdy brown umbrella from the hotel concierge). We visited during King’s Day, an annual day of celebrations marking the birth of – you guessed it – King Willem-Alexander, when Amsterdammers paint the town orange, taking to the streets and canals for the party of the year: there’s live music, a flotilla of boats and stalls selling everything from bric-a-brac to champagne. At the start of August, the city goes all out for Amsterdam Pride, with another boat parade
What to do
If you've already ticked off the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh museum, we'd recommend heading to the nearby Stedelijk Museum. Inside the uncompromising bath-shaped edifice is an extraordinary collection of modern and contemporary art, featuring pieces by the likes of Picasso, Matisse, Warhol and Lichtenstein, as well as a fascinating line-up of temporary exhibitions. Of course, one of the best ways to explore Amsterdam is through its canals: the hotel's boat tour departs at 5pm each day and lasts 75 minutes.
Where to eat and drink
The hotel itself offers boasts three eating and drinking hotspots. All-day dining restaurant Jansz. has a selection of modern classics on the menu, whether that’s the brioche French toast at breakfast or decadent lobster risotto at dinner; as you enter, you’ll pass through the intriguing Pharmacy room, which dates back to the 17th century. The Pulitzer’s Bar was extensively made over in 2016 and is decked out in Art Deco finery, with canal views and a menu that balances traditional favourites with innovation and flair, while you'll find café-bar Pause tucked just behind the reception area. Looking out onto the hotel's gardens (and its labyrinth of inter-connecting passages), it's the best spot for people watching with a coffee (or Aperol spritz) in hand.
Further afield, we'd recommend a pilgrimage to Kanarie Club, a food market that's perhaps best described as Amsterdam's answer to Brixton Village. Set in an old tram works, it's home to a handful of laid back food and drink stalls (look out for their endless artisans variations on the humble G and T). A trip to the Dutch capital would hardly be complete without a stop off at a pancake restaurant: whether you sway towards sweet or savoury, Mook (which has a branch in the city centre and another in the west) has an extensive menu, plus succulent-heavy decor. If you’re a dedicated Insta-tourist, your interest will doubtless have been piqued by MaMa Kelly, the chicken and lobster restaurant found in Amsterdam’s Olympic stadium that’s decked out in 50 shades of millennial pink to rival Sketch in London. Making a reservation, however, requires some serious pre-planning: booking for the week ahead opens at 9am on the Monday, and drop-ins are pretty much unheard of.
Where to shop
Formed where three of Amsterdam’s major canals bisect the main Central Canal, the ‘Nine Little Streets’ (or De 9 Straatjes) make up the city’s chicest shopping district (and the Pulitzer sits right at the heart of it). Look out for Hope Stockholm, androgynous Scandi style from a former Acne creative director, the flagship store for Dutch lingerie brand Love Stories and SKY, an independent womenswear boutique boasting a curated edit of understated brands like APC, Vanessa Seward and Maryam Nassir Zadeh. For affordable, Instagram-friendly jewellery, try All The Luck In The World, which now has three outposts in the city. Their charm necklaces and bracelets perfect gift-fodder if you're after something a little more original than a job lot of stroopwafel.
How to book
Head to www.pulitzeramsterdam.com to book.