Golden Age Amsterdam was full of merchants, artists, royalty, philosophers and bon vivants. Today it remains one of Europe’s most culturally exciting and architecturally charming cities. Housed in a vast 19th century banking building and more recently a music conservatory, The Conservatorium offers an ideal base for exploration on all fronts.
WHERE? With Museumplein on one side and Amsterdam’s answer to Bond Street on the other, you can roll out of bed and into the Van Gogh museum or the Rijksmuseum, head to Cartier and Fendi, or amble down picturesque Spiegelgracht, with its array of artisanal shops, over the prettiest canals.
THE STAY: The glitterati use Piero Lissoni’s atrium, buttressed by modern glass on one side and the restored brickwork of the bank on the other, for champagne catch-ups, coffee, and apertivi. Original tile-work, stained glass and neo-gothic arches are found on the ascent to the rooms, coloured with browns and greys and softened with swatches of Italian leather. Rooms emphasise height and light: mine was a split-level affair walled generously with (completely soundproof) glass looking onto the Van Gogh museum. Bathrooms are floor-heated yellow tile; baths are deep rectangles and fill quickly.
THE FOOD: The action starts at Tunes Bar, which focuses on gin botanicals. The G&Ts come in vast bulb glasses mixed with everything from fresh grapes to chilli, and are lapped up by local blonde beauties. Next head for dinner at buzzy Asian restaurant Taiko, the kind of place where champagne, sake and Dutch wine might all be summoned to accompany a wide-ranging, generally exciting Omakase tasting menu (think wagyu ham, wasabi cappuccino with spider crab, miso cod, sashimi with daikon salad, ginger and cherry blossom).
ASK ABOUT: Much is made of the concierge desk. Get them to suggest and book a range of cultural and culinary delights. I had a ticket to the Rijksmuseum sorted when I came in at 2AM so that, next day, I didn’t have to queue. The hotel also has a fleet of plush, leather-seated bicycles for rent at €15 per half-day.
AND AFTER THAT? Book a spa treatment at Akasha. Follow up a luxurious steam room and sauna session with a technically complex, bespoke Ann Semonin facial (€140 for 75 minutes). Or opt for the hot stone massage (€160 for 80 minutes), during which a talented therapist will knead your tired muscles into a smooth caramel of general well-being.
NEED TO KNOW: Double rooms at The Conservatorium start from £275 (€323) per night, with penthouse suites costing up to €10,000 per night. Breakfast is not included in booking. Tasting menu at Taiki costs from €85. To book call +31 20 570 0000 or visit conservatoriumhotel.com
ANYTHING ELSE? You can skip the airport hassle and travel by train from London to Amsterdam. Returns start from £298 with Eurostar Business Premiere between St Pancras and Brussels, with lounge, champagne, Raymond Blanc meal, wine and newspapers. At Brussels change for a Thalys super-fast train (one and a half hours) to Amsterdam. Visit eurostar.com