Grand Dame of the Amstel

Luxury is such a precious word when you dabble in it. But once in a while, maybe? Because who wants to develop a thick skin when it comes to appreciating the good things in life.

Adi and I are cost-conscious travellers. When you are passionate about travel and want to see as much of the world as we do, it is quite impossible to indulge in luxury in the true sense of the word (unless you have trust funds in place).

On that note you will, if you can imagine, feel the thrill we felt when we walked into the InterContinental Amstel. The five-star hotel as you can see on the main featured photograph is a beauty and sits on the river Amstel in Amsterdam. On a dull day when a fine mist hung in the air, we were at the portal of this old-world Dutch hotel. A doorman in a smart livery and top hat ushered us into a warmly lit lobby that was marked by classic white walls, high ceilings, glittering chandeliers and sconces. It radiated a sense of classic grandeur. The interiors were not of behemoth proportions because before it opened doors in 1867 its founder Dr Samuel Sarphati had fallen short of funds. He died during its construction. This man, a Dutch physician of Portuguese Sephardi Jew descent, was key to developing the city of Amsterdam. He was a philanthropist. After he came to understand the poor hygiene of the people while treating them, he set up projects to uplift them and the city at large. He set up a bread factory that would produce affordable but good bread and initiated an effective waste collection system. Let’s put it thus: Amsterdam owes him.

Back into the exalted lobby of the InterContinental Amstel, there is a bust of Sarphati inside to make you look up the unusual name of the gentleman. Though I did chance upon a ‘tabloid’ titled Amstel Times. An interesting way of putting out information about its 150-year-old history. Instead of gadding about it further, I shall let the photographs take you into the hotel.

Rembrandt van Rijn. The Dutch master who lived during the 17th century finds mention in the hotel throughout. It overlooks a piece of land called De Omval that is known to have inspired Rembrandt’s sketches. There is even a Rembrandt suite in his memory.
Rembrandt looks on as you enter the hotel.
An old wooden staircase, high ceilings and pretty chandeliers mark a quietly elegant lobby inside the Dutch hotel. There are about 55 executive rooms and 24 suites, not a vast number, but what it lacks in number, it makes up for in style.
The Amstel InterContinental was envisaged to be grander. With two more wings. But as it happens, the best-laid plans often go awry. Don’t we all know a bit about that?
Guests’ scribblings. Post the year 1867 when it opened its doors to the public.
George Clooney, Audrey Hepburn and Queen Elizabeth are a few personalities to have stayed here. Here you can see a Clooney doodle.
The bar has a stunning view of the river. You can sit here and while away time with a pint of Dutch beer and just that view.
And if you get fidgety after a few drinks at the bar you can always head out to the Jordaan quarter which is a few minutes’ walk away.
The Wellness Suite. I scampered down mostly to dip into the wonderful spicy mix of seeds and nuts they put out with tea (basically, after I had a go, no one else did).
A not-too-unhappy duo inside their suite.
Into the executive suite that we were upgraded to. Look at that gorgeous wallpaper.
An old-world decor can never fail to charm an old soul.
Entry level rooms start around 300-400 quids a night. That is pretty much a standard quote all through the year.


The hotel should not do too badly, says that smile.
Yippeee, says mine.

Lastly, I have to mention the chief concierge, Aad van den Berg, who was lovely with his recommendations. He got us tickets for Anne Frank House which we had failed to book online because they happened to be sold out. Did I mention also that this was an IHG free reward night redemption at the InterContinental Amstel? Well then, let me say this that if you have a free reward night too and you are in this beautiful, vibrant city, you know where to look in. For me, it made me feel nothing less than a pampered princess.

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Arundhati Basu

The great affair in my life is to travel. I count myself immensely fortunate that my partner shares this passion. We are a team that likes to spend time planning and plotting out places to go. Destination check, flights check, accommodation check, cheesy grins check. Off we go.

2 thoughts on “Grand Dame of the Amstel

    1. It is the proverbial cherry, Diane. As a journalist I used to go on junkets (sponsored trips) where it was a regular thing to be put up in five-star hotels. But nothing, I realise that now, can beat the high of getting that experience on your own merit 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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