Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 12 November 2019

Hotel Insider: Conservatorium Hotel, Amsterdam

In Amsterdam’s Museumplein, the Conservatorium is housed in an old music school and counts the Van Gogh Museum and Rijksmuseum among its neighbours

The glass-covered atrium acts as a 'living room' for guests and blends the outdoors with the hotel lobby. Courtesy Set Hotels. 
The glass-covered atrium acts as a 'living room' for guests and blends the outdoors with the hotel lobby. Courtesy Set Hotels. 

The welcome

A doorman takes our luggage as soon as we get out of the Uber, directing us towards reception where there’s both good news and bad. On the plus side, we’re being upgraded from a deluxe guest room to a junior suite. On the downside, the room isn’t quite ready yet, but then it is only 9am.

The neighbourhood

The hotel was originally built as a bank then became a musical institute before being transformed into the Conservatorium hotel. Courtesy Set hotels 
The hotel was originally built as a bank then became a musical institute before being transformed into the Conservatorium hotel. Courtesy Set hotels 

Built in Museumplein (the city’s museum quarter), the Conservatorium is ideal for visitors keen on a dose of culture. Across the street are the Van Gogh Museum and the Stedelijk Museum. The Rijksmuseum and the Moco Museum, which has a fascinating Banksy exhibit on show, are less than a five-­minute stroll from the hotel.

The room

Many rooms at the Conservatorium in Amsterdam's Museumplein district have views over the historic Paulus Potterstraat. Courtesy Set Hotels
Many rooms at the Conservatorium in Amsterdam's Museumplein district have views over the historic Paulus Potterstraat. Courtesy Set Hotels

Our upgrade means that we’re entirely spoiled for space. We have a walk-in wardrobe with motion sensor lights, mirrored doors and two entrance doors. There’s so much space that I decide to fully unpack, even though we’re only staying for two days. The bed is huge and comfortable and the electronic curtains open up to reveal life on one of Amsterdam’s most interesting streets, Paulus Potterstraat, making the view from the double-height windows captivating. The bathroom is also mammoth, with a deep tub, rainfall shower, double sinks and an enclosed toilet.

The service

The staff get that elegantly casual Amsterdam vibe just right – we’re made to feel welcome but not fawned over. Despite arriving during breakfast, having travelled straight from the airport after an eight-hour flight, and still wearing trainers, we don’t feel at all awkward joining the smartly dressed folks eating in the hotel’s Brasserie restaurant, and that’s largely down to the welcome from the staff. Housekeeping is efficient – I don’t see any staff during our stay but towels are folded, toiletries replenished and water bottles refilled. There’s also a pod of city experts in the lobby all day long with the sole purpose of answering guests’ queries, whether that’s giving directions or securing hard-to-come-by dinner reservations.

The scene

Nods to the hotel's past as a musical institute are found throughout the Conservatorium. Courtesy Set Hotels 
Nods to the hotel's past as a musical institute are found throughout the Conservatorium. Courtesy Set Hotels 

Originally built as a bank at the end of the 19th century, the building heralded the regeneration of the entire Museumplein district. Having also served as a music institute, the hotel features nods to both elements of its fascinating history thanks to original stone stairwells, wrought-iron balusters and carefully preserved tiled walls. A violin sculpture dangles above the lobby, one of several artworks on display. The skilfully designed glass atrium blends modernity with the building’s history as well as letting in floods of natural light. The lobby is a favourite with well-heeled locals who frequent the Conservatorium for afternoon tea or an evening drink and the space remains community-focused by hosting regular collaborations with the Conservatorium van Amsterdam music school. Below ground level there’s a wellbeing space with a swimming pool, sauna, yoga room and gym that’s open to hotel guests and a limited number of local residents.

The food

Breakfast at Brasserie is easily in my top three hotel breakfast experiences to date. The ice table is stocked with delicious cuts of cheese and meat, smoked fish and fresh vegetables, alongside bircher pots, bio yoghurts and seasonal fruit. There’s also a delicious-smelling array of baked pastries, various types of bread and hand-tied bags of cereal and granola, not to mention the a la carte menu. I tried everything from the smashed avocado and poached eggs to the toasted bagels and they all hit the spot. Upstairs in a room once used for drum lessons is Taiko restaurant, a renowned Asian eatery run by chef Schilo van Coevorden. Try the nine-course Hanami vegan Omakase menu (Dh350) that offers dishes such as seaweed pizza, Szechuan aubergine and raindrop cake. ­Beautifully plated, busting with flavour and full of amazing textures, it’s the benchmark for what a vegan menu should be.

Loved

The food, location and architecture – the blend of history and modernity is genius.

Hated

It’s difficult to criticise, but there was something a little off about the bright blue lights against the stark white walls at the swimming pool.

The verdict

It doesn’t come cheap, but there’s no better place to soak in Amsterdam’s cultural offerings.

The bottom line

Rooms at the Conservatorium start from €404 (Dh1,650) per night, including daily breakfast but excluding taxes.

Updated: August 20, 2019 06:44 PM

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