In March 2023, I checked into the Grand Junior Suite at Conservatorium Hotel Amsterdam. Set within the city’s prestigious Museum Quarter near Van Gogh Museum and Rijksmuseum, the 129-key property is within walking distance from P.C. Hooftstraat, one of the most expensive shopping streets in the Netherlands; Vondelpark, the largest city park in the country; and De 9 Straatjes (“Nine Streets”) known for its diverse collection of shops and restaurants. Amsterdam’s famed canals are short stroll away, while Amsterdam Airport Schiphol is 25 minutes away by car.
The Conservatorium Hotel is part of The Set Collection, which comprises properties in Asia (e.g. The Upper House in Hong Kong, The Middle House in Shanghai), Europe (e.g. Hotel Café Royal in London), Mexico and the Middle East. The Set Collection is under GHA Discovery’s portfolio of brands.
The UTW (“Under Ten Words”): Experiential duality and stunning architecture in historic landmark building.
The must-dos (if any): Have breakfast at the Brasserie, enjoy a cocktail at Taiko Bar, take a tour of the hotel premises.
CONSERVATORIUM HOTEL AMSTERDAM
The Conservatorium Hotel opened its doors in December 2011, occupying a 19th century neo-Gothic building which was formerly home to Dutch savings bank Rijkspostspaarbank as well as the Sweelinck Conservatory of Music. Part of the building’s relaunch as a hotel involved the installation of a dramatic soaring glass atrium for the building’s inner courtyard which now houses the reception area as well as the lobby lounge and brasserie. Italian architect Piero Lissoni was behind the building’s transformation which maintains key aspects of the original structure whilst marrying the brick building’s gorgeous Art Nouveau interiors with Lissoni’s signature clean lines, muted fabrics and bright flashes of colour.
As you make your way around the hotel, you may sometimes feel like you are weaving seamlessly to and from the glorious 19th century-era past as well as the building’s chic, contemporary present. The impossibly Instagram-aesthetic floating black staircases, the colourful objets d’art on the glass display wall separating the brasserie and lounge as well as the eye-catching “X-Ray” statue of Dick Bruna’s Miffy (known as nijntje in her homeland) are decidedly modern flourishes, while the brick facade and corner turrets of the lobby as well as the stained glass, wall tiles, dramatic arches and sweeping balustrades you see in the corridors of the guest floors make you feel like you are exploring the hallowed halls of Hogwarts. (It was formerly a school after all.)
In terms of wellness, the Akasha Holistic Wellbeing Centre comprises spa treatment rooms, saunas, a private hammam, a blue-hued indoor swimming pool and jacuzzi area as well as an impressively equipped fitness centre. Elsewhere, the hotel’s inhouse Van Baerle Shopping Gallery features a curated assortment of luxury boutique shops such as Bonebakker, Skins Cosmetics, Club Cinq, La Casa del Habano and The Hand.
GRAND JUNIOR SUITE
Decked in hardwood floors and creamy, muted tones, the 55sqm split-level Grand Junior Suite boasts impressively soaring ceilings and large windows overlooking the busy Van Baerlestraat, one of the city’s most vital traffic arteries with plenty of bicycle and tram action.
The mezzanine level primarily features the bedroom and a smaller bathroom, while the main level is where you find most of the suite’s key functionalities, from the double wardrobe and living area with work station to the bathroom with deep soaking bathtub, rainfall shower and ETRO bathroom amenities as well as the pantry and minibar with Nespresso machine, snacks like potato chips and chocolate bars, your usual soft drinks and juices as well as a variety of alcohol such as Hennessy cognac, baby bottles of assorted spirits and a bottle of Sancerre.
I must say – sipping coffee while seated on the steps and taking in the suite’s intimate views of the notable Van Baerlestraat was a surreal and calming experience I would not forget any time soon.
(A selection of Grand Junior Suites are split-level while others are single level.)
Breakfast is served at the Brasserie, comprising a buffet of pastries, cold cuts and yoghurts along with your choice from a selection of a la carte warm dishes such as Hot Porridge (prunes, maple syrup), Toasted Bagel (scrambled egg, smoked salmon, cream cheese), Egg Royal (poached eggs, smoked salmon, toasted muffin, sauce hollandaise, salmon caviar), Avocado on Toast and Egg Florentine. From my meal, the French Toast (banana, cinnamon, maple syrup) was suitably fluffy, while the Organic Farm Eggs (scrambled with chicken sausages, mushrooms and bacon) was done quite well.
Helmed by Chef Schilo van Coevorden, Taiko Restaurant offers Asian-inspired cuisine in an upscale, brick-walled setting – think Japanese sushi and makis, Chinese dim sum and Thai curries. I was not persuaded by the Green Curry (tofu, fried rice, shiitake) which went in a cheesier and more sour direction than its source material, but the Duck Siu Mai (hoisin, chilli, 5 spice) went well with the sommelier’s recommended sake pairing and the Soft Shell Crab Roll (crispy soft shell crab, daikon, kimchi) served its role as international maki send-up competently.
Adjacent sister concept Taiko Bar serves Japanese-inspired tipples in a cosy setting which offers distinctly different vibes in the evening (overlooking the busy street) and at night (when live music occasionally features and the yellow wall behind the bar truly comes alive). The Kaffir Lime Paloma (Volcan Tequila Blanco, Kaffir Lime, Coffee, Pineapple Soda) was fun and refreshing while the savoury Open Sesame (The Macallan 12, Sesame, Plum, Shiso Vinegar) came with visual story-telling which pays tribute to the building’s music school history.
Rounding up the dining concepts at the hotel was the airy Lounge, where we enjoyed glasses of wine as part of the Complimentary Drink and Hotel Tour, one of GHA’s complimentary Local Offers.
Along with De L’Europe Amsterdam and Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam, the Conservatorium Hotel is often regarded as one of the best and most luxurious hotels in Amsterdam. However, while most of the city’s major hotels are located within the central canal area (including the two mentioned above), the Conservatorium Hotel offers a distinctly different value proposition with its unique location within the Museum Quarter.
Even if you do not book a stay, a day visit to the Conservatorium Hotel is essential if you are visiting Amsterdam, if only to take in the magnificence that is the building’s design and architecture.
Conservatorium Hotel Amsterdam
Paulus Potterstraat 50 1071 DB Amsterdam