The neo-gothic Conservatorium hotel in Amsterdam is a visually architectural feast. With giant industrial beams, elongated hanging steel light fixtures, pieces of modern art, books and sculptures, brickwork towers lining the floor to ceiling ginormous windows which encircle the roof, the Conservatorium is simply gobsmackingly gorgeous.
Just off of Museum Square, we walked in to the hotel after a quick 1 hour flight from London and a 20 minute journey by taxi. The short trip took us to a different world, with cobblestoned streets overlooking boats on narrow canals and a quaint historic feel.
Amsterdam is a funny one. An hour or two away from the main fashion capitals – London, Paris and Milan with notoriety for being lackadaisical with its extra-curricular activities including a full-blown (so to speak) Red Light District filled with prostitutes in windows and an array of live sex shows situated next to pot shops and cafes with freshly made pancakes, it’s like Los Angeles in the eyes of David LaChapelle.
But the weirdness is normal here and what makes it quirky also gives it its relaxed charm. Art and music are huge parts of the Dutch culture from my favourites The Starry Night by Van Gogh and Johannes Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring which inspired Scarlett Johansson’s notable film performance.
Upon entering the hotel, we were greeted by the warm and friendly staff who took our luggage to our room whilst we sat down at the open atrium Brasserie for lunch. The waiter explained every detail of the menu to a T, suggesting a bottle of ice cold Veuve Cliquot and a wonderful half bottle of hearty Ribeiro del Duero red wine to go with our mains. To be honest, we did have the option to peruse the impressive list of 40 different gins on the menu but opted for champagne and red wine instead.
I had fresh tuna tartar as a starter and we had a tomahawk steak to share. As we were eating lunch at their signature Royal Afternoon Tea time, we decided to go for the hot plain and raison filled fluffy scones with clotted cream and their lemon with earl grey tea marmalade for dessert.
We popped into our deluxe guest-room to freshen up. With minimal design overlooking a rainy cobblestoned street near the main prestige shopping district P.C. Hoofstraat where one can buy Louis Vuitton to Burberry. The lighting and audio system were all modernised to satisfy the nit pickiest tech geek. The bathroom was gorgeous – a huge white bathtub in what felt like a wet room with a rainfall shower; filled with feminine smelling Floris bath products and two large cotton bathrobes.
Designed by award-winning Milan-based designer Piero Lissoni, the sleek Conservatorium hotel has 129 luxury rooms and suites on eight floors and has a first floor full of luxury boutiques like Skins Cosmetics and a cigar room. This grand hotel offers two restaurants – the Brasserie and Taiko, the Akasha spa with gym, a shopping area as well as the trendy Tunes Bar to have late night cocktails.
Rich with a music heritage, this former site of the Sweelinck Conservatory of Music has become one of the most glamorous hotels in Amsterdam after almost six years. They have recently launched a program in 2016 to support young bands to pursue their music career in partnership with the Conservatorium van Amsterdam and Amsterdam University of the Arts. The music program gives bands the opportunity to win a financial scholarship after a showcase performance in the Symphony Room within the hotel.
We decided to peruse the top three suites in the hotel. The first was the duplex Concerto Suite with a cosy dining room, small kitchenette and spacious living area downstairs. The bedroom upstairs has luxury linens and overlooks the courtyard through the double glazed windows. The en-suite bathroom has a freestanding oval stone bath and rain show with views over the Stedelijk Museum.
The second room, the I Love Amsterdam Suite, was incredible. A little birdy told me this one was Miley Cyrus’ favourite. With 3 separate levels over 155 m2: the ground floor boasting a large bed and guitar for those musical nights, a mezzanine seating area which led to the third floor which holds one of the most gorgeous bathrooms I have ever seen. The centrepiece was a large sunken stone bathtub (which could probably fit a good eight people), and a triangular window overlooking the city. The breath-taking part is when you climb the embellished metal spiralling staircase up to the roof where one can gaze 360 degrees onto the sunset above the tiled rooftops and along the Van Baerlestreet Street. This room is part of the hotel’s Big 5 Package where you can have a three-day weekend with private butler, helicopter tours, spa treatments for two, Michelin bites on the canal and a private lunch with the hotel’s General Manager Roy Tomassen.
The third bedroom was the immense 170m2 Penthouse. A classic black and white colour scheme with a large dining room table next to the kitchen by the entrance which leads into a huge living room with floor-to-ceiling windows on all sides. At one edge of the living space, you can gaze onto the Brasserie and Lounge with hawk eyes through the hanging industrial lights. The other side is where the window is overlooking the Rijksmuseum and beyond. There is a great view from the living room through the transparent glass onto the white bedroom with large en suite bathroom and free standing oval stone bath. Simply getting to the Penthouse feels special with its own private entrance and access to the garage with an additional entrance for styling with a special make up desk. The Penthouse Suite is certainly is the place to book if you want the full VIP experience.
In the evening, we checked out the 1,000 square metre Akasha Holistic Wellbeing Centre. The word Akasha is derived from Sanskrit meaning the harmonious unity of the four earthly elements: earth, fire, water and air. The spa showcases an 18X5m lap pool, Jacuzzi, Amsterdam’s first and only Watsu pool, sauna, Private Hammam, seven treatment rooms, a treatment suite for couples, Air Private studio, and a gym complete with LifeFitness equipment, 19” touch screens, and colour-changing LED ceilings. Their treatments include products from the brand the French beauty and spa brand Anne Semonin as well as Natura Bisse.
Dinner was at the stunning Taiko restaurant; a contemporary Asian restaurant headed up by executive Dutch chef Schilo van Coevorden. Overlooking the Paulus Potterstraat and the Stedelijk Museum, the interior restaurant shines a sleek obsidian black and bright red. We tried a selection of delicacies from wagyu beef, lobster and wagyu dumplings, crispy prawns, salmon tartar, incredible black cod, a chicken and vegetable dish served with hot broth and a very chocolaty dessert which neither of us could finish.
Amsterdam was a joy and what made it most special was staying at one of the greatest hotels in Europe. The Conservatorium hotel offers immaculate service, impeccable food, and displays a gorgeous interior design which definitely does earn the title of leading luxury palace.
The Conservatorium Hotel
Van Baerlestreet 27