The InterContinental Amstel Hotel - Review - Amsterdam

The InterContinental Amstel Amsterdam, in short the Amstel Hotel, has since its opening in 1867 been generally regarded as the most beautiful, most prestigious and luxurious hotel of the Netherlands. The Amstel Hotel is also one of the best hotels in the world and attracts a unique range of guests, including royalty and members of the aristocracy, political leaders, (inter)national celebrities and business people from all over the world.

I must confess that I have a special relationship with this Hotel: my apartment is one block away from the Amstel Hotel. When I walk home in the middle of the night from Rembrandtplein or Leidseplein, the beautiful lights of the Amstel Hotel are telling me that I am almost home: it is my "polar star" in Amsterdam!

I met Sabrina Schouw, PR and Communications Manager, last Monday at the hotel hall. I wanted to get to know more from her about the history of the hotel. I think Sabrina considers the Amstel Hotel as a second "home": I could see her eyes blinking while talking of the history of the building, full of respect for all those who contributed to its creation and development.

The Hall - Sabrina Schouw, Amstel Hotel PR and Communications Manager

The Amstel Hotel was built on the initiative of the physician Samuel Sarphati (1813-1866). 'A palace on the Amstel River' that is what Doctor Samuel Sarphati had in mind when he was thinking about a hotel with international allure. In 1863 he unfolded plans for the design of a grand hotel on the Amstel.

The architect Cornelis Outshoorn was commissioned to design the building. The first stone was laid on 26 April 1866. The construction went without problems and one year later, on 27 April 1867, the hotel was completed. Unfortunately, Mr. Sarphati himself died on 23 June 1866, without seeing his dream come true.

In his design of the exterior of the Amstel Hotel, Outshoorn was inspired by the French Renaissance style of the 16th and 17th centuries, which was also used in The Louvre and the castles on the Loire.

The early years of the Amstel Hotel were not altogether successful, though; there was even talk about closing the place down. Although 1870 was the year when the Franco-German War broke out, things started to pick up. The hotel started to attract a special kind of clientele. The reason for their visit was Doctor Johann Georg Mezger, a young physician who ran his surgery from the hotel.

The Amstel Hall and Reception

The placard in memory of Dr. Mezger

Dr. Mezger treated people from all classes of society but he was mainly known for the many royal and noble patients he treated at his surgery. These people often stayed at the Amstel Hotel. For eighteen years, Dr. Mezger received his patients at the hotel until he decided to move to Wiesbaden in 1888. Fortunately, the number of visitors to the hotel did not decline. Royalty continued to stay at the hotel, including the shah of Persia and the crown-princess of Austria. The Amstel Health & Fitness Club still displays a stone placard in memory of Dr. Mezger. 



Executive room and its bar

Much of the original interior of the Amstel Hotel was lost over the years but the entrance hall has been retained in its authentic 19th century condition. In November 1990, the Amstel Hotel closed for large-scale reconstruction work and was reopened in September 1992.

The original 111 rooms have been converted into 79 rooms and suites, ranging from Executive rooms, to Junior and Executive suites and the Royal Suite.

Executive room bathroom

Executice suite

Sabrina showed me an executive room with canal view, pointing at some standard details offered at the Amstel hotel: the bar is not "a mini bar", but it offers big bottles; the bathroom standard toiletries for the guest are from The Occitaine.

The next room we visited, an executive suite, has a hall and a living which can be divided from the bedroom. Old books are lined on the shelf: in this case it was the Encyclopedia Britannica.

Executive suite living room and its old books

Executive suite bath and hall

The room rates vary from '‚¬575 for an Executive Square View room to '‚¬3250 for the Royal Suite. This is a complete apartment with lounge, dining room for eight persons, a kitchenette, a bedroom and a hall. The Royal Suite also has a bathroom with taps of 14 carat gold. The apartment can be extended with two extra bedrooms and has a breathtaking view of the old part of Amsterdam.

The Royal suite bedroom


The Royal suite living room

The marble bathrooms have separate toilets and separate shower cubicles, which have a specially designed shower head with the relaxing effect of a natural waterfall.
We couldn't visit the royal suite as it was booked. I tried to get from Sabrina the name of the lucky (and probably rich and famous) guest, but, doing her job in the best way, she didn't reveal it.

The restaurant La Rive

The restaurant La Rive


We moved then to the Restaurant La Rive, owner of a prestigious Michelin star with its beautiful location overlooking the Amstel River. Guests here are surrounded by sparkling crystal, shining silver and porcelain specially designed for La Rive. The cellar is stored with a huge quantity of bottles of wine - mainly from France. There is a private dining room.

The private dining room at La Rive

As the Executive Chef of the Amstel Hotel, Edwin Kats is in charge of the hotel's culinary activities. He is responsible for all the dishes prepared at the Amstel. In April 2003, Kats' first cookery book was published (in Dutch and in English): La Rive; the taste of the Amstel. I received this big (and heavy) book as a present from the hotel management. Really appreciated, especially for the pictures and the recipes!

The Amstel Lounge


The Amstel Bar & Brasserie is an ideal place for an informal drink and for lunch and dinner but also ideal to enjoy a supper after a theatre performance or concert. The Amstel Lounge is situated right on the waterside and offers a spectacular view of the Amstel River.

The swimming pool at Health and Fitness Club

I visited then the fully equipped Amstel Health & Fitness Club, which has a heated swimming pool, Jacuzzi, sauna, cold plunge bath, fitness room, Turkish bath and solarium. Aquarobics and massages are also available.  The hotel has the most distinguished ballroom in the capital: the Mirror Room (Spiegelzaal) with its spectacular interior.



The Mirror room (Spiegelzaal)

During the course of its rich history, the Amstel Hotel has been able to welcome a diversity of celebrities, among whom four royal and presidential guests, including the tsar and tsarina of Russia, Queen Elizabeth of England, King Carlos of Spain, the Swedish King Gustav and Queen Silvia, the princess of Wales and president Salinas of Mexico.


But also political leaders such as Clinton, Brandt, Kissinger and Schmidt. The business community was thus far represented by people such as Trump, Ford and Agnelli, while many people from the world of art and entertainment such as Gustav Eiffel, Henry Moore, Walt Disney, Orson Welles, Marlene Dietrich, Elizabeth Taylor, Audrey Hepburn, Madonna, U2, The Rolling Stones, Robbie Williams, Steven Spielberg, Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Matt Damon and many others chose the Amstel Hotel as their favourite address in the Netherlands. The Amstel Hotel was also the setting of various top conferences including the IGGI conference for developing countries, and the Global Panel.

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