Today: Review of the Conservatorium Hotel Amsterdam (The Netherlands)
- Location: Google maps
- Hotel website: Conservatorium Hotel
- Tip: get complimentary VIP perks when booking via Virtuoso
The Conservatorium Hotel is a luxury lifestyle palace, evoking glamour and elegance for sophisticated, design-savvy travelers. Housed in a former bank and music school, the hotel is located in the heart of Amsterdam’s famous fashion and museum district, adjacent to the Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum, Stedelijk Museum, and P.C. Hooftstraat, a street of luxury retail shops. With eight floors and 129 rooms and suites, the hotel offers spacious deluxe rooms up to a penthouse suite, featuring state-of-the-art technology and large bathrooms. Access to the hotel’s fabulous spa (with pool) is complimentary. Exquisite food is offered in the Brasserie & Lounge and in the Asian-inspired restaurant, Taiko.
The Conservatorium Hotel features in my top 10 list of the best hotels in Amsterdam.
Have you ever stayed at the Conservatorium Hotel? If so, what was your experience? Leave a comment.
In this review (more info and photos below my YouTube video):
- Pros & things I like
- Cons & things to know
- My verdict
- Tips for future guests & save money
- Best time to visit
- How to get there
PROS & THINGS I LIKE
- Set in the heart of the Museum Square district, the Conservatorium Hotel enjoys a sublime locations in the Dutch capital, both for leisure and business travelers. Amsterdam’s crown jewels – the Van Gogh Museum, Concertgebouw, Rijksmuseum, and Vondelpark – are conveniently at the hotel’s doorstep. The city’s most exclusive shopping district – with Cartier, Gucci and Armani boutiques – is just around the corner. Amsterdam’s famous canals and cobble stone streets are just 10 minutes’ walk away. Around 15 minutes by tram is the Central Station, which has high-speed links with Paris (in four hours), Brussels (in three hours) and further afield. The Netherlands’ main airport Schiphol is only 20 minutes away by car; transfers can be arranged from €135 and include a welcome in the arrival hall of Schiphol Airport.
- The Conservatorium Hotel enjoys a rich history. The building in which the hotel is housed was originally designed by the Dutch architect Daniel Knuttel as the Rijkspostspaarbank and sparked the regeneration of the Museum Quarter at the end of the 19th century. When the Rijkspostspaarbank had to move offices following a series of merges, the building was abandoned in 1978. After lying empty for five years, it became the home of the newly formed Sweelinck Conservatorium, consisting of three musical institutes. Some remodelling was required to modernise Daniel Knuttel’s architecture into functional acoustic classrooms. In April 2008 the Conservatorium of Amsterdam outgrew its home and departed to its current location at Oosterdokseiland. In the same year, The Set Hotels purchased this wonderful building, attracted by its glorious past, and turned it into one of Amsterdam’s best luxury hotels.
- In a vision to restore the building to its former beauty, The Set Hotels appointed award winning Milan-based designer Piero Lissonito to guide the creation of the Conservatorium Hotel, whose rich historical narrative is woven with utmost care into its very fabric. Lissoni used a contemporary design language to complement Knuttel’s Art Nouveau master piece. The original neo-gothic feeling of the building was left unchanged while new elements were inserted to create a contrast between antique and modern. The interior glass courtyard is without a doubt the most striking new design structure. Constructed completely of glass, it underscores the contrast between old and new, while doing full justice to the original structure of the historic building. The atrium is intimately dotted with lush homely sofas & coffee tables, and has earned the moniker the ‘Living Room of Amsterdam’ by the city’s locals
- Inside and out, a strong design aesthetic is fundamental to the Conservatorium Hotel. The building’s original function as a savings bank is apparent in the playful details so embraced by the Art Nouveau movement. There are stone pigs carved into the staircase to symbolize piggy banks; spider webs on the tiles in the shopping arcade allude to spiders trapping flies to consume later; and the tiles also portray bees, which, metaphorically, save stocks of honey for the wintertime. Furniture from leading Italian manufactures such as Living Divani, Kartell and Cassina sit prominently in all communal spaces while accent pieces such as vintage Asian rugs provide a sense of familiar comfort and cement the Conservatorium as one of the best design hotels in Amsterdam. The lamps in the hotels are created by Piero Lissoni. He is also the one who designed the fire doors, desks and host desk especially for the Conservatorium hotel.
- The Conservatorium Hotel features 129 spacious rooms & suites, which are minimal, modern and highly comfortable spaces. In each room at the hotel, contemporary luxuries blend with historic design details and a calming color palette. During my visit, I was upgraded to a beautiful Royal Duplex Suite. This split-level suite was decorated elegantly and contemporary in a soothing color palette featuring dark hardwood floors and beige furniture. Enormous windows offered an authentic Amsterdam city views. The suite featured a lounge area, dining table and comfortable work space on the lower level. The warm travertine stone bathrooms, one on each level, were equipped with a large rainfall shower, deep soak bathtub, luxurious designer amenities, bathroom LCD mirror TV, and Micro Cotton towels.
- The Conservatorium Hotel’s musical history and central location are symbolized in its three unique signature suites. The Concerto Two Bedroom Suite has the tall grandeur of a music room; the I Love Amsterdam Suite is a triplex with spectacular views of the city from its private rooftop terrace; finally, the Penthouse Suite is a handsome space with floor-to-ceiling windows taking in the majestic Conservatorium building and Amsterdam beyond. The Penthouse has private elevator access, a sophisticated dining room with in-suite kitchen and it is possible to reserve the entire sixth floor privately together with the Penthouse Suite to create a private Penthouse Wing.
- When the Conservatorium was transformed into a grand hotel, its cultural importance to the city of Amsterdam was maintained. Regular musical performances are held at the hotel today. The hotel regularly collaborates with the Conservatorium van Amsterdam music school and together they started the Expression of the Art Award series. Each year, students from the jazz department are invited to compete at the hotel. A jury is present to announce the winner, who is awarded with a monetary fund to encourage and support their musical career. Rosey Chan is just one of the musicians who is closely connected to the Conservatorium Hotel; the classically trained pianist has done everything from recording film scores to creating experimental multi-media pieces during her career.
- The hotel’s cultural commitment goes beyond music. It has an ever-changing roster of contemporary artists displaying their work in the hotel lobby. These artists range from emerging talent to globally established names such as Banksy and Scholten & Baijings. Some suites are also decorated with works by artists. These pieces are rotated frequently and are shown alongside publications on the details. The permanent art collection in the hotel has been curated by architect Piero Lissoni, and includes everything from reproductions of historic Dutch masterpieces to brand new commissions inspired by the Conservatorium’s cultural and musical history. One of the most impressive art works is a hanging violin installation in the hotel’s entrance hall, which pays homage to the hotel’s past history as a music school. Another highlight are the high definition scans from real Italian and Flemish 17th and 18th century paintings which adorn the hotel’s rich history hallways.
- The Conservatorium Hotel’s spa, named the Akasha Holistic Wellbeing Center, is divided into four different areas inspired by natural elements. The wellness experiencer is enhanced by mood lighting, restorative sounds and uplifting aromas. Seven treatment rooms, including a double treatment Akasha Suite, offer signature treatments which marry innovative Western practices with ancient Eastern traditions. There is a private Hammam for purifying scrubs and massages and Amsterdam’s only Watsu pool for tailored hydrotreatments and guided meditation. The 18m (60 ft) long swimming pool provides an oasis of calmness and serenity within the bustling city of Amsterdam. The spa also features an impressive gym whose cutting edge technology includes LifeFitness equipment. There are also some private studios dedicated to one on one sessions or personalised classes within the disciplines of Yoga, Pilates, Tai-Chi and meditation.
- The Conservatorium Hotel has an illustrious, century-long past where society has always gathered together. This is especially apparent today in its two elegant restaurants, both managed by Dutch chef Schilo van Coevorden.
- The restaurant Taiko takes its name from the Japanese for ‘drum’ as it is located in what was once the percussion department of the old music school. Taiko redefines contemporary Asian cuisine with authentic dishes made of local, seasonal products. Guests are served delicious signature sashimi and beef from the Binchō-tan grill. Taiko Bar, alongside, Taiko Bar translates the sophisticated nightlife of global cities such as Bangkok, Tokyo and Shanghai into the intimate, cosy setting of an Amsterdam neighborhood pub.
- The Brasserie is located in the hotel’s central atrium. Flooded with natural daylight beaming down from the glass ceiling and through the floor-to-ceiling windows, it is a convivial meeting place for both hotel guests and Amsterdam society. When the weather is nice, the magnificent atrium lobby extends onto a courtyard terrace. The Brasserie offers contemporary breakfast and lunch every day, dinner on Mondays, and a brunch with a live jazz performance on Sundays.
- The Conservatorium Hotel is Green Globe certified, currently holding Platinum status. Green Globe is a worldwide organization that audits its members according to internationally accepted sustainability criteria. The Conservatorium hotel has been independently audited and awarded certification to the Green Globe International Standard for Sustainable Travel & Tourism for multiple years now, and is the first hotel in The Netherlands achieving this milestone. Important sustainable practices were integrated into the redevelopment of the building from the start. The hotel uses a thermal energy storage system and reuses water from its swimming pool in the sprinkler system. The property also aim to reduce the amount of waste as much as possible and give preferences to reusable sustainable items, avoiding use of plastic containers for example. Executive chef Schilo Van Coevorden and the hotel’s food & beverage department aim to promote local organic ingredients and limit the use of ingredients from endangered species of food.
- The Conservatorium Hotel is managed by The Set Collection. The Set Collection also has several other hotels in its portfolio: Café Royal in London, Lutetia in Paris, the Mamilla in Jerusalem, the Opposite house in Beijing, the Upper House in Hong Kong, the Temple House in Chengdu, and the Middle House in Shanghai. The three founding hotels of The Set (Café Royal, Lutetita and the Conservatorium) are located in the cultural heart of their vibrant cities. They have for decades attracted people who drive change and creativity and are places where established and emerging ideas come together to shape the future. Matching the spirit and pace of contemporary life, The Set hotels are explicitly designed to enable new discoveries and to capture the hearts and minds of guests in the process. These are places people love, want to return to and to tell others about. Simply put, they rank among the modern grand hotels of our time.
CONS & THINGS TO KNOW
- The Conservatorium Hotel’s breakfast – served in the Brasserie Restaurant – is comprised of a beautifully presented buffet and delicious à la carte dishes. Although breakfast at the hotel will be an excellent start of the day for most guests, it turned out to be a mess during my trip because of a very large tour group who took over the entire breakfast restaurant from 8 to 9 am. As a consequence, none of the other hotel guests could be seated in the restaurant during that time (since no tables were available), causing frustration among hotel guests and stress among the clearly overwhelmed staff. Since I could not postpone my breakfast to a later time, this meant I missed out on breakfast on one of the two days I was at the hotel. The management could have anticipated that there was going to be a problem during breakfast with such a large tour group, yet they did not take any action to implement a smooth operation (e.g. seat the tour group in their second restaurant or offer in-room breakfast to the individuals of the tour group). On the other day of my two-night stay, I had breakfast at 10:30 am (breakfast is open until 11 am) but I was disappointed to find out that the staff was already removing parts of the buffet by that time. I do believe though that my disappointing experience with the hotel’s breakfast service is an unfortunate and rare anomaly that is not representative of the hotel’s normal breakfast service.
- I encountered some (other) service issues during my stay which should not have happened at a five star hotel of this caliber. For example, at check-in, I was told at the reception desk that they were understaffed and they could not accompany me to my room (something that is apparently part of the hotel’s routine check-in procedure). Unfortunately, this turned out to be rather problematic since the hotel’s hallways are a labyrinth at first sight and they are dimly lit so it’s not easy at all to find your room by yourself (it took me more than 15 minutes). Also, one night, the turndown service staff entered the suite without knocking on the door, which was a rather unpleasant experience (apparently, they thought I had left, but even in that case they should still have knocked the door prior to entering the room).
- The hotel’s signature restaurant, Taiko, offers Asian cuisine in a trendy setting. During my dinner at Taiko, I ordered the multi-course tasting menu, which was undoubtedly composed of quality ingredients and beautifully presented, but I was not entirely convinced by the taste of some dishes. For example, the American lobster on the menu was tasteless since it was drenched in a peanuts sauce. Of course, this is a matter of personal preferences, and based on the restaurant’s very favorable online reviews, it seems that most other guests rave about the food’s exotic and spice flavors. Nonetheless, I could not help but think how nice it would have been if the hotel would be home to a Michelin-starred restaurant serving authentic Dutch cuisine (true to the building’s rich history) instead of an Asian inspired eatery.
- Location: 9/10
- Design: 9/10
- Pool: 9/10
- Rooms: 9/10
- Food: 8/10
- Breakfast: 5/10
- Spa: 9/10
- Service: 9/10
- Value for money: 9/10
- Overall experience: very good 8,6/10
TIPS FOR FUTURE GUESTS & SAVE MONEY
- Save money: get complimentary VIP perks when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. upgrade, daily breakfast, early check-in, late check-out, and $100 USD food & beverage credit).
- Save money: read here my tips for getting the best deal at a luxury hotel like the Conservatorium Hotel Amsterdam (and/or receive many free perks).
- Read my tips for preparing your trip in time.
BEST TIME TO VISIT
Amsterdam is best visited between April and May (spring) or September through November (autumn), right before or directly after the summertime high tourist season. You’ll contend with fewer tourists, enjoy somewhat mild temperatures (the city’s weather is notoriously finicky), and also experience Amsterdam as the locals do, at its laid-back best.
HOW TO GET THERE
Amsterdam can easily be reached by plane, train or car. For those coming by plane, the hotel is located a 20 min cab ride from Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (AMS). Check the Wikipedia page of Amsterdam Airport Schiphol for a continuously updated list of airlines that offer direct flights to Amsterdam.
Below is a selection of my photos of the Conservatorium Hotel Amsterdam. To view more photos (including breakfast and dinner), click here.