Review: the InterContinental Amstel hotel, Amsterdam
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This is my review of the InterContinental Amstel hotel in Amsterdam.
I first reviewed this hotel back in 2014, although I’d stayed there a few times before that. Our last review was 2015 but I’ve done a couple of unreviewed stays since. I wanted to take a fresh, brief, look again today. I like this place and it’s my default hotel in Amsterdam, despite the cost.
When you look at the pictures you might wonder why. You’ll be especially confused if you saw my praises of Moxy hotels in recent weeks, which are as far away from this place as you can get. I’ll try to explain.
The Amstel is not your average InterContinental. Despite being a very large building, it has only 55 standard rooms and 24 suites. This means that there are very few people around and you will not feel overwhelmed in the pool, the bar, the terrace or indeed anywhere.
Location-wise, it is literally on the edge of the canal network. You need to think about the location if staying here. The good news is that one of the very few central Metro stations is outside the door (Weesperplein). It is a 30 minute walk from Centraal Station and 20 minutes from Dam Square (shopping area). It is convenient for the airport via a change at Amsterdam Zuid to the metro.
It is most convenient for the museums (Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh) and the luxury shopping area surrounding them. In the past I have tended to do one-way wandering / sightseeing trips, ending up at Centraal Station and then getting the metro back.
Here’s the lobby (PR photograph). Remember that this hotel has just 79 rooms:
The hotel was meant to be much, much bigger than it is. They started building with the lobby and a few rooms to either side, but for some reason the planned wings were never built. Because of how the city grew around it, it can’t happen now. The snag, of course, is that a building like this costs a fortune to maintain and 79 rooms can only generate so much revenue.
Rooms at InterContinental Amstel
I had booked a Junior Suite for €460 back in December when the Netherlands was still in the midst of covid. You will pay more today. I was upgraded to a Duplex Penthouse Suite.
Here was downstairs:
Here are the stairs:
Here is upstairs:
All of the rooms have a similar design scheme, although most are blue and not pink. Eclectic is, without a doubt, the word.
I’m fine with eclectic. I have a house full of modern furniture and I like the novelty of living like this for a night. I wouldn’t stay here for two weeks though ….
The bathrooms are outdated, clearly. It had everything you need – separate shower, a large bath, doors to the loo and shower – but it’s not ideal. Toiletries were ‘The Spa Collection’ so not even those were high end.
The good news is that the hotel will be starting a major renovation soon, hopefully this year. It has a new General Manager who is ex-Four Seasons and I met at least one other ex-Four Seasons employee there. If they spend the money well, it could be exceptional once again. It’s not that long ago that the hotel had a restaurant with two Michelin stars and was regarded as the best place in town – indeed, on my 2015 trip Paul McCartney was also staying.
Food and drink
Breakfast is taken in the formal restaurant which overlooks the Amstel river. It is a mix of a small buffet and a la carte, but it’s the sort of place where you could ask for whatever you want and I’m sure they’d do it. I also had a light bar snack here the previous evening.
Here is where I had breakfast:
The small buffet, which you can have alongside a la carte:
The most modern part of the hotel is the bar and riverside terrace at lobby level. You can see the conservatory and terrace in the exterior picture above. Annoyingly this had been booked out for a private event on the night I was there – in the past I have always had a light evening meal here.
Here is a terrace picture from a previous visit:
I had time to fit in a swim the next morning in the hugely impressive pool. What you can’t see from this photo is that it is at river level which gives it an interesting vibe as boats sail past.
Why do I stay at InterContinental Amsterdam?
This was my 6th or 7th stay at the Amstel over years. I did a review trip to Kimpton De Witt Amsterdam in 2017 and I stayed at the (no longer SPG / Marriott) Pulitzer once around 20 years ago, but that’s it I think. The Amstel has had all of my other stays over the last quarter century, although if I was here 2-3 times per year instead of once every 18-24 months I would try more places.
Without getting overly philosophical, staying here always gives me time to consider what we understand by ‘luxury’. It isn’t necessarily about having the latest gadgets in your room or being in a property which was redecorated a week ago.
I live a busy life, with two young children and a wife who has her own successful career. This site runs 24/7 and needs constant attention wherever I am in the world.
See the photo of the pool? There was no-one there except me. In the hour I was there, not a single other person came in.
See the restaurant? I can sit with no more than 10 other people and have a long relaxing breakfast watching the world float past outside. See my suite? That space is all mine.
Some people would hate a hotel like this. I certainly wouldn’t want to live my life that way. But, sometimes, it is great to be able to spend 27 hours somewhere where you can relax and get away from it all. That is what ‘luxury’ meant to me last Tuesday.
What does it cost?
Back in 2014 I noted that the hotel cost me 40,000 IHG Rewards points per night vs €749 for a standard room. The need for refurbishment, and the covid overhang, means that cash rooms now start at around €450 (this place is a great one to use an InterContinental Ambassador 2-4-1 weekend voucher) or around 85,000 IHG Rewards points.
I do recommend it for a sensible, quiet break – although it’s not necessarily a great base if your plan is to hit the clubs and bars until early morning before stumbling back. You do need to eat and spend time there if you book in. If all you do is use it as somewhere to sleep then you’re not getting the full Amstel experience or full value for money.
You can find out more about the hotel, and book, on this page of the InterContinental website.
IHG One Rewards update – June 2023:
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