When it came to choosing a place to stay in Amsterdam this past Summer, one of my key conditions was that the hotel not only had to be on one of the city’s main canals but my room would also need to have direct views of one too. The last time I was in Amsterdam, I was in my Junior year of college studying abroad and my travel budget was substantially smaller than now. The non-descript hostel was definitely not something to write home about.

Obviously, I was long overdue for a visit.  For the three nights I would be in Amsterdam with my family, I wanted the quintessential Amsterdam experience and to be properly re-introduced to this charming city of canals. This time I wanted to be pampered.

The Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam, a five-star hotel sitting directly on the Gentleman’s Canal, has been on my target list ever since it opened in 2014. I even wrote an Inside Look immediately after its opening. There are plenty of incredible luxury hotel choices in Amsterdam to suit every taste such as The Pulitzer in the Nines or Conservatorium Hotel (also reviewed here on Inviato) in the Museum District, along with myriad boutique hotels such as the Andaz Amsterdam or The Hoxton. But none in my view can duplicate the compelling combination of historic richness, elegant interiors, prime canal location, and spacious light-filled guest rooms (with yes, rooms overlooking the canal) like the Waldorf Astoria.

THE HOTEL

Hotel Review: Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam
The Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam five star hotel overlooks one of the city’s main canals

Waldorf brought the property ten years ago from a Dutch family and officially opened, after a thoughtful and extensive renovation, as the Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam in May 2014.  The hotel occupies six double-wide palaces and homes (542-556) dating back to the 17th and 18thcentury, each with their own unique history. The residence featuring the stairs up to the Waldorf’s grand entrance and lobby, was formerly The Marot House built in 1665 for a family named Backer while the other houses are named after former affluent residents including a former Mayor of Amsterdam.

If you visit the hotel’s garden, you can see mini replicas of each of the individual townhouses.

LOCATION

Hotel Review: Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam
The Herengracht Canal (Gentlemen’s Canal) outside the Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam

Situated right on the Herengracht Canal (known as the Gentlemen’s Canal) in the historic center, the Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam is an ideal central base to explore the key sights in Amsterdam. Nearly everything is in walking distance such as the charming Nines district where the Anne Frank House is also located, the excellent museums housing the works of Rembrandt and Van Gogh, the floating flower markets, and of course the picturesque canals (there are over 165 of them!).  The Waldorf also happens to be located conveniently across the canal from the Museum of Bags and Purses where you can see an impressive collection of 4,500 bags through time from Middle Ages. Who knew?

Hotel Review: Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam
The Museum of Bags and Purses near the Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam

ARRIVAL EXPERIENCE

Check in at the Waldorf was an enjoyable and quick experience.  My daughter and I had fun choosing our favorite scent from assorted fragrances created for the Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam by the Parisian candlemaker Ciré Trudon (royal candlemaker to the court of Louis XIV) that would later be used to spray on our pillows each night.

Hotel Review: Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam
Lobby at the Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam

STAFF AND SERVICE

Before and during my stay, the members of the excellent Concierge team were extremely responsive and helpful with restaurant suggestions and reservations, assisting us with tickets for museums and even finding us a hip speakeasy bar after dinner.  Likewise, the staff was friendly and gracious during our stay, greeting us daily by name. We were completely spoiled with special gifts waiting in our room each day – fresh flowers, fruit baskets, Stroopwafels and other treats. And of course, the scent of our personal fragrance wafting throughout the room.

Hotel Review: Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam
A treat from van Wonderen Stroopwafels pastry shop in Centrum

 

SPACES

The public spaces of the Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam are quite incredible with much of the original features from each of the houses preserved.  It’s worth looking up and around during your stay to appreciate all the exquisite details throughout the hotel. Original moldings and plaster, as well as the marble and wood floors are all original. The ornate Louis XIV wooden staircase at the main entrance, designed by Daniel Marot (architect to William III) is a marvel. You really feel a sense of place and history here.

Downstairs you will find the sneaky Vault Bar, with the original vault and safe boxes when the residence was transformed into a bank.

Peacock Alley, the main lounge, is a gorgeous light-filled room decorated in Peacock blue with plenty of individual lounging spaces. With fresh flowers and beautifully presented treats for guests each afternoon during the day, it is an inviting place to relax for afternoon tea, as we did, or for pre-dinner cocktails where you can listen to live music after a long day touring. My only wish is that there was more some music playing here later in the evening, inviting people to hang out after returning to dinner. During our stay, it was sadly empty and dark after 8 p.m each night.

I visited a few of the private dining spaces throughout the six residences which are often used to host intimate lunches or dinners (guests can book these for their own dinners). The Maurer Room has stunning, original Rococo-style decorations and 18th century walls.

Hotel Review: Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam
Maurer private dining room

The cozy speakeasy-like Vault Bar downstairs for pre-dinner cocktails was my favorite space. Keeping to the theme, a creative selection of cocktails are presented on ‘currency’ in a wallet along with a vintage safety deposit key. The mixologists here are just amazing and do great mocktails too.

Adjoining the bar is a private room inside another vault for dinners for two. Also on the lower level are the main restaurants with access the spacious garden in back of the hotel. The  Guerlain spa and a sneaky indoor pool are also here.

ROOMS AND SUITES

Our Junior Suite (#235) was a 1,000 square-foot elegantly decorated bedroom and separate sitting area with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the canal (bingo!) with plenty of room for ourselves and our daughter. I could not have been happier.

Hotel Review: Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam
Junior Suite with a View overlooking the Herengracht Canal

Half of the 93 rooms and suites in the hotel have a canal view while others face the pretty garden at the back of the hotel, so there is no ‘bad’ view. Each room is completely unique due to the origins of the hotel being six different residences.

Our friends who were also staying at the Waldorf at the same time as us stayed in one of the three lofts on the top floors which feature wooden beamed ceilings and bathrooms with cast-iron tubs. These are better suited for a couple and have a cozier feel due to the slanted ceiling structure. I toured several other rooms at the hotel and particularly admired the Backer Suite on the first floor with it’s original wooden frescoed ceiling.

FOOD AND WINE

The Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam hosts two main restaurants: the more formal double Michelin star Librije’s Zusje and the Goldfinch Brasserie. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to experience either of these during my short stay other than for breakfast.  Breakfasts, included with your Virtuoso rate, are held in either restaurant, both of which open up to the pretty garden.

The Vault Bar accessed by a thick-steel vault door, with a wall of safety deposit boxes serve to hold assorted bottles, is the perfect stop for a pre or post dinner cocktail.

Clientele

This five-star family-friendly hotel attracts an sophisticated clientele and is equally ideal for families (especially multi-generational families needing various room combinations) and couples looking for an exceptional level of service, ambiance and a central location on a historic canal.

THE LAST WORD

I love a building with a great past and this one has several of them! The Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam strikes all the right notes. I can’t wait to return soon!

Hotel Review: Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam

INSIDER AMSTERDAM: OUR FAVORITE PLACES IN AMSTERDAM

When you book with Inviato Travel, we provide you with our own black book of insider tips and favorite places to shop, eat and see.  Here is just a few of our very favorite places to chow.

Hotel Review: Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam
Unicorn cupcakes at Pluk Cafe Amsterdam
  • Jansz at The Pulitzer in the Nines Streets is a pretty restaurant overlooking the canal. Ask for a table by the window in the front room and make sure to peak around all the interesting nooks and crannies of this delightful hotel.
  • Pluk Berenstraat in Nines Straates, a charming little café to go for breakfast or lunch. Here you will find Poke bowls, pancakes and eggs as well as adorable gifts. If you want to win your daughter over, go here for the unicorn cupcakes!
  • Vinkeles, the atmospheric Michelin-starred restaurant in The Dylan hotel. It was formerly a bakery and the former ovens are still intact on the brick walls in the dining room.
Hotel Review: Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam
Vinkeles, Michelin starred restaurant in The Dylan hotel
  • The Duchess. Our favorite dinner was at this sleek and cool restaurant. Everything on the menu was amazing and we let our waiter just send recommended dishes out. Go here with a group or the whole family. Visit the concept store in the main lobby in the W Hotel on your way in or out.
  • Happyhappyjoyjoy a fun and trendy Asian restaurant that your kids will love (great for Instagram!).
Hotel Review: Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam
Happyhappyjoyjoy Asian restaurant: fun, trendy and perfect for Instagram
  • Winkel 43, a small cafe beside the Noordmarket, near Anne Frank House. Go in the afternoon or after dinner for a slice of their apple pie. You will thank me after.
Hotel Review: Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam
Homemade apple cake at the Winkel 43, Amsterdam
  • For the best french fries, hit the stall, Wil Graanstra Fritehaus in Westr Markt 11, close to the Anne Frank House. Go early as they often sell out.
  • A visit to Van Wonderen Stroopwafel store in Centrum is a must during your visit. However, if you are at the Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam, they give this to you as a treat in your room.
Hotel Review: Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam
Array of waffle sweets at van Wonderen Stroopwafels
Loved Didn't Love
  • The sense of place here. The hotel is rich with history.
  • The spacious, light-filled accommodations, most with floor-to-ceiling windows of the canal or the garden.
  • The architectural details throughout each of the six former residences.
  • The personal touches:  choosing our own scented room spray, the daily fresh flowers and local treats, including Stroopwafels!
  • The complimentary bikes in front of the entrance to grab and go off exploring into the streets.
  • The gracious service from the front desk to the concierge team to the bartenders at the Vault Bar.
  • Surprisingly, breakfast was lightly staffed during our stay. The buffet needed replenishing and it was difficult to find anyone to get a refill of coffee – but I am sure this was a unique circumstance as service was exceptional otherwise.
  • The main lobby felt too quiet at night after 8 p.m. which is a pity as it is so pretty and could be more thoughtfully used.

 

Don't Miss Skip
  • A private visit to the vault room next to the Vault Bar (you can request a special private dinner for two here).
  • Exploring the various neighborhoods beyond the historic center and museums such the picturesque 9 Straatjes (‘The 9 Streets’), happening De Pijp and charming Jordaan.
  • If you have time, explore the beautiful countryside outside Amsterdam to see the windmills, fishing villages, cheese farms, and the amazing local scenery. Keukenhof, which is open only for two months from March 21 to May 19 when the tulips are in bloom is an absolute must. You must purchase tickets in advance (do skip the line if you are not with guide to avoid queueing in line).

  • Taking a ride on the trams like the locals do in Amsterdam in addition to a ride on the canal. It’s a very efficient and quick way for getting around the city while getting to take in all of Amsterdam.
  • The congested and touristy Leidseplein Square where The Bulldog is located (I just had to check it out for old times sake).

 

Rooms to Get Tips
  • Half of the 93 rooms and suites in the hotel have a canal view while others face the pretty garden at the back of the hotel, so there is no ‘bad’ view or bad rooms for that matter.  Every room is elegantly appointed and each one completely unique due to the origins of the hotel being six different residences.
  • The suites are particularly very spacious and feature floor to ceiling windows. The first floor rooms have the highest ceilings (as most historical buildings do). Here you will find the Backer Suite with a unique wooden frescoed ceiling (I heard this is Leonardo DiCaprio favorite room!) 
  • The three lofts on the top floors feature original wooden beamed ceilings and bathrooms with cast-iron tubs. These are better suited for a couple and have a cozier feel due to the slanted ceiling structure. 
  • There are now direct trains twice a day from London to Amsterdam via the Eurostar!  Now you can leave London and be in Amsterdam in less than four hours making an England-Holland trip quite convenient. Note there is no direct Eurostar train from Amsterdam to London yet – you have to still stop in Brussels for passport and security control.
  • A visit to Anne Frank House is an obvious must for anyone. You can only book tickets online and the tickets are now timed so you have to specify the time you want to visit. Tickets open exactly two months from your anticipated visit date and they sell out FAST (80% of their inventory is booked in advance. Some tickets are left to be made available ‘the day of’ but they must be booked online as well). My experience this time was even more powerful then when I visited 30 years ago. Now there is an exhibit you can visit after you tour of the attic.
  • Similar to the Anne Frank House, tickets to the Van Gogh Museum must be booked ahead and are only sold online. The concierge at the Waldorf Astoria can book these for you.
  • If you are interested in Jewish history, it is worthwhile to do a private Jewish heritage tour while you are in Amsterdam, as we did. The tour includes a visit to the Resistance Museum, the old quarter and the Portuguese Synagogue, one of the oldest  and largest working synagogues in Europe. Fun fact: it is still lit only by candlelight!

  • For those with younger kids (or for those that are young at heart), take a free ferry ride to the 5D This Is Holland flying experience. When you are done, go next door to the deck of the Adam Tower to experience Europe’s highest swing, the A’dam Lookout 360-degree Swing!

 

Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam

For 2019, Your Virtuoso Rate At the Waldorf-Astoria Amsterdam Includes:

• Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability (excluding suites)
• Complimentary full breakfast daily, for up to two in room guests
• $100 USD Equivalent Resort/Hotel credit to be utilized during stay
• A Welcome Amenity
• Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability
• Complimentary Wi-Fi

Book This Hotel

Why book Virtuoso?

  • Personalized travel assistance
  • 24/7 online booking
  • Special rates & exclusive offers
  • Guaranteed Room upgrade*
  • Complimentary full American breakfast
  • Early check-in, Late check-out*
  • Exclusive on-site amenities (varies by hotel)
  • * based on availability on time of arrival

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