Amsterdam’s Conservatorium Hotel could be mistaken for a museum at first glance, with its Museumplein location (the Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh, and Stedelijk museums are a five-minute stroll) and golden age façade. But this hotel, a melding of ancient and ultra-modern, falls not far short of perfect.
Originally built in the late 1800s, the building spent nearly a century as the office of Rijkspostspaarbank before being abandoned in the late 1970s. (Design elements from the formative bank years still linger with inset bee tiles—the heraldic animal of savings banks; bees and banks both collect.) A few years later, it became the Sweelinck Conservatorium, home to three musical institutions. In 2008, the conservatorium moved, and the hotel process began under The Set hoteliers (Hotel Café Royal in London), who commissioned Italian architect Piero Lissoni to undertake the transformation. The hotel opened in 2011, immediately caught everyone’s attention, and continues to be the spot to stay in Amsterdam for the global pack.
The structure is a mix of old and new: the original brick building along with a modern glass-and-steel frame atrium that encloses the landmark’s back side. The hotel’s lobby, known as “Amsterdam’s living room”, with its low seating and sky-high ceiling embraces and draws you in. Furniture from leading design manufacturers Living Divani, Kartell, and Cassina sit prominently in the communal spaces with accent pieces such as vintage Asian rugs, Italian Mokas, and white Delft. Handsome people hang out here—coffee by day, cocktails by night. Lissoni brings the outside in with a line of trees that separates the lobby lounge from the all-day-dining brasserie.
The Conservatorium is a 129-key hotel and many rooms boast city-centre views; the most romantic spot is tucked away in the I Love Amsterdam suite at the top of a spiral staircase leading off a wood-beamed mezzanine. The 1,800-square-foot penthouse is appointed with Dutch notes—think wooden clogs—in a pared-back beautiful setting, while the Deluxe Duplex rooms provide front-row views of the “bathtub building” of the Stedelijk via floor-to-ceiling glass and two well-appointed large bathrooms—every room has a rainfall shower; some have soaking tubs, too.
The hotel spa, Akasha Holistic Wellbeing Centre, has seven treatment rooms in addition to Earth, the spa lounge; Water, the Watsu pool; Fire, the gym; and Air, the body movement studios. At restaurant Taiko, named after ancient Japanese drums said to beat with a mythic rhythm, chef Schilo van Coevorden specializes in Asian classics along with a sake sommelier, while at Tunes Bar there are over 30 gins available, all listed with a suggested accompaniment of tonic—10 types—and garnish.
The Conservatorium is a hotel you want to much more than stay at. This is a hotel you want to live at.