We [heart] New York... James Lohan: "It lives up to…
This week we searched for the White Rabbit in Andaz hotel – an intriguing luxury hotel in Amsterdam with one hell of an imagination. Keith Oswin (our Smith24 maestro) swapped Smith central for Wonderland, as he discovered this surreally chic boutique retreat. After exploring iconic attractions and gazing at Amsterdam’s canals through the looking-glass (well, the hotel’s floor-to-ceiling windows), Andaz left him grinning like a Cheshire cat.
I don’t know about you, but I feel that every bed should have a giant fish-headed spoon above the headboard… Well, perhaps not, but somehow at the Andaz hotel on Amsterdam’s Prinsengracht – with a little inspiration from Lewis Carroll and Magritte – the unusual becomes the norm. Everywhere you turn there is some quirk that makes you consider whether this is really a result of a multi-million pound makeover or instead a couple of hours’ eating ‘cakes’ in one of Amsterdam’s more dubious coffee shops! It doesn’t help that one short corridor is lined with half-size doors that are clearly false – or are they?
Inside the former municipal library all belief is suspended, much like the bell-shaped lights and art installations that hang in the towering atrium. There’s video art throughout the hotel – even the chandelier in the library has screens inserted between the lights, showing scenes from Alice in Wonderland. Already bewildered by the first few steps inside Andaz, room 411 with the fish-headed spoon (or Canal View Queen as it’s officially known) suddenly seems quite normal. Overlooking one of Amsterdam’s three main canals, this is a room for work and play – from the free WiFi to the comfy bed, the huge walk-in rain shower and the text-emblazoned loo wallpaper, which took the majority of my three-day stay to read.
Amsterdam is a superb place for a few days’ escape and Andaz is perfectly placed, roughly 10 minutes in any direction from the key attractions. Anne Frank’s iconic house is further along Prinsengracht (make sure you go early, or better still pre-book, to avoid the monstrous queues) and the museums with paintings by the likes of Rembrandt and Van Gogh are the same travelling time – especially if you borrow one of the hotel’s bikes for the day and do as the locals do. The infamous Red Light District is also only a couple of canals away – just remember that ‘window-shopping’ in that part of the city takes on a whole new meaning.
Return to the hotel in time for a free glass of wine in the library before planning your evening. Andaz may be a Hyatt hotel but there is nothing corporate about it in any way and it is hard to think of a less formal place to stay. The staff very quickly become your best friends, advising on what to eat and drink and suggesting post-shift watering holes. The only thing missing was a bottle marked ‘Drink Me’ that would have given me access through one of those half-sized doors.
Find out more about Andaz or browse boutique hotels in Amsterdam – the city’s summer events are in full swing, so make like the White Rabbit and don’t be late to the party…