A STAY AT THE HOXTON AMSTERDAM
Down the cobbled paths of Amsterdam's main canal system and onto the Herengracht, parked bicycles line each side in organised and unsuspecting chaos. The trees adorning the waterway have since shed their autumn leaves to give way for a dry winter’s cold. Made up of a series of five grachtenpanden (houses overseeing a canal), the Hoxton Amsterdam is nestled in a neighbourhood rich in history with an imperial-like presence.
Behind its red brick exterior, this 111-room hotel first had life as home to the city’s 17th century burgemeester (mayor) and now has been reinterpreted as a vibrant haven for tourists and locals alike. Local interior design company Nicemakers oversaw the extensive redesign project, salvaging many of the building’s original features from ornate ceilings to double showers and exposed original beams. The new interiors seamlessly weave Dutch quirkiness with a contemporary vibe that has served the Hoxton brand so well.
As we arrive, a Christmas feeling is in the air. A towering and decorated pine takes centre stage overlooking a lobby of relaxed guests in cozy and colourful armchairs. The atmosphere is lively and convivial, and at heart, brings forth a Dutch feeling of gezelligheid (loosely translating to a general togetherness that gives people a warm feeling).
After a quick and warm reception at check-in, we made way to our ‘Roomy’ canal suite. Through narrow hallways, steep staircases and unevenly levelled corridors, the building is filled with architectural oddities as a result of merging different canal houses together.
Upon entering our room, dramatic double height ceilings catches our first gaze. Hanging underneath, a vintage brass chandelier brings forth the resplendent grandeur of once being the Mayor’s room. There is plenty here to delight, from the beautifully ornate fireplace to the the eclectic mix of mid-century furniture, the room is decorated with an assortment of vintage books and trinkets designed to take you back an era.
But it is the view that we have been waiting for. Brushing aside the beige sheers, a striking vista of the Herengracht canal reveals itself, shimmering underneath the soft golden glow of an early sunset. Cyclists fade in and out from view on a nearby bridge as ripples form underneath by the gentle passing of a canal cruise. White gulls frolick over the waterway with playful curiosity and the streets, in all its ambient glory, beckon us once again to return.
On a wooden desk, a note in Hoxton’s signature blue captures the corner of my eye. Behind it, a celebratory welcome from the staff congratulating me on my 30th and to have complimentary drinks before dinner. We make our way back down, taking the chance to indulge on some Dutch bitterballens (fried beef croquettes), cheering over a cozy pot of loose leaf Earl Grey. A sip and I smile, it’s very gezelligheid and I knew then, it was going to be the start of a wonderfully memorable birthday.