Golden Age reborn at Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam

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The Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam on the Herengracht.
The Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam on the Herengracht.

A goldfinch lives at the Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam, a goldfinch trained to draw water from a well with a tiny bucket. Painted by Rembrandt's pupil Carel Fabritius in 1654 (and made even more famous by the eponymous Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of 2013), the goldfinch recalls the city's 17th-century Golden Age when goldfinches were popular companions in the private gardens of Amsterdam's canal houses, and therein is one good reason why a reproduction of Fabritius' famous trompe-l'oeil painting hangs at the hotel's Goldfinch Brasserie.

Comprising six contiguous Unesco-listed canal palaces, the Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam is on the Herengracht, or Patricians' Canal, the most prestigious of the city's canals, notable for its double-wide mansions and private gardens.

The hotel's majestic staircase by Louis XIV architect Daniel Marot and an 18th-century dining room decorated with wall frescoes evoke an epoch when Amsterdam was the world's leading financial center and diamond capital and the Netherlands the foremost maritime and economic powerhouse on the planet.

Goldfinch Brasserie at the Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam takes its inspiration from Carel Fabritius’ painting, a reproduction of which is displayed at the restaurant.
Goldfinch Brasserie at the Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam takes its inspiration from Carel Fabritius’ painting, a reproduction of which is displayed at the restaurant.

Throughout their history, the six mansions have been home to some of the city's most prominent residents, including lords and mayors and an art connoisseur who collected works by Rembrandt, Frans Hals, Rubens and Titian. In keeping with the well-born heritage of the respective canal palaces, each guest is provided a personal concierge upon arrival as well as personalized room fragrance by Cire Trudon for nightly turndown service.

In acknowledgement of the hotel brand's New York flagship, a lobby in book-matched marble opens into a Peacock Alley furnished in the Waldorf's signature blue and complete with an armillary sphere. An ebony grand piano appears to be awaiting the arrival of Cole Porter or Noel Coward, and indeed, every afternoon, a pianist provides musical accompaniment during the daily afternoon tea.

Inspired by the bespoke jewelry collection of Amsterdam jeweler Choices by DL, the Waldorf's tea service highlights a collection of confectionery jewels and gemstones. Jeweler's boxes open to reveal edible treasures both savory and sweet, with a focus on the bounty from the hotel's garden and apiary. Fig and honey madeleines and violet-petal cupcakes are paired with Champagne and golden caramel tea. Just beyond the peacock-blue windows lies Amsterdam's largest private garden, where an octagonal teahouse from 1750 faces a row of beehives that are miniature replicas of the six palaces.

Afternoon tea at the Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam is inspired by the Amsterdam jeweler Choices by DL.
Afternoon tea at the Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam is inspired by the Amsterdam jeweler Choices by DL.

Michelin-starred dining

Less than a year after the five-star hotel opened in the summer of 2014, its restaurant received two Michelin stars. Librije's Zusje Amsterdam (renamed Spectrum in 2019) is the sister restaurant to the three-Michelin-starred De Librije, located in nearby Zwolle. As executive chef of the hotel Sidney Schutte was designated chef of the year by Gault Millau, guests with a penchant for gastronomy might consider a master class with Schutte in creating a signature dessert while sipping wines selected by the hotel's sommelier. Private dinners are hosted in the rococo splendor of the Maurer Room with its 18th-century wall paintings or the grand Hooft Ballroom with its canal and garden views.

Regardless of where one wanders throughout the elegant hotel, the genteel atmosphere is akin to life in a private home managed by a staff of multilingual professionals. Unfailingly poised and polite, and impeccably attired by couturier Jan Taminiau, the Waldorf Astoria guest service team appears to anticipate guests' needs, whether it's a morning newspaper in the Breakfast Room or freshly baked madeleines before bed.

Guestrooms and suites at the 93-room hotel are serene sanctuaries of classic style in a hushed palette of blue and beige. In a nod to the Dutch master Johannes Vermeer, plush settees and contemporary art are accented in lapis lazuli and ochre.

Garden rooms face onto a courtyard with more than 7,000 tulips. The spacious marble bathrooms feature rainfall showerheads, double sinks, private toilets, soaking tubs with inset TVs and toiletries by Ferragamo.

A pool at the hotel’s Guerlain Spa.
A pool at the hotel’s Guerlain Spa.

Bespoke experiences at the Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam include private canal cruises on the hotel's salon boat outfitted in teak and brass or a horse-and-carriage journey, complete with coachman, to the world's largest private collection of Louis Vuitton valises at the 17th-century Ship Chandlers Warehouse, followed by a five-course dinner.

A private morning tour at the Van Gogh Museum provides an escape from the crowds while allowing guests more space and time to respond to the brilliant works of the Dutch genius. Similarly, private tours of the Rijksmuseum reveal valuable insight into the museum's vast collection of Rembrandts, including the masterpiece known as "The Night Watch."

Guests in need of retail therapy are chauffeured via Maybach luxury vehicles to De Bijenkorf (the beehive), Amsterdam's premier department store since 1870, where an exclusive personal shopping lounge is staffed for private couture consultations. For guests seeking relaxation, the hotel's Guerlain Spa provides an oasis of well-being and hydrotherapy as well as collaborations with Headspace, the award-winning meditation group.

As a center of the diamond industry since the 17th century, Amsterdam is well-positioned for engagements and nuptials. Should Cupid strike, the hotel's subterranean Vault Bar serves extraordinary elixirs in an erstwhile bank vault complete with a wall of safe-deposit boxes where opportunities abound for a diamond surprise.

The Clefs d'Or concierges at the Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam arrange private airport transfers via Maybachs and Mercedes-Benzes through Marcus Executive Car Services, and Bios-groep offers private airport service via Teslas with gull-wing doors. Rates at the Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam start at $900.

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