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InterContinental Amstel Amsterdam, a Thorough Hotel Appraisal

Liz and her husband hope to help other travelers by sharing their experience of hotels they have stayed in across a range of star ratings.

InterContinental Amstel, Amsterdam.

InterContinental Amstel, Amsterdam.

Why We Chose This Hotel

We first went to Amsterdam over 10 years ago. After visiting the Heineken Experience, we took a canal cruise. As the boat turned from the Singelgracht into the River Amstel, we caught sight of an impressive building. The commentary explained that this was the Amstel, Amsterdam's top hotel, used by the rich and famous. Intrigued by what lay within its walls, we did not imagine ever staying there.

Roll on 10 years and we had a rewards night to use in any IHG brand hotel. We noticed that the Amstel was a member of the InterContinental Hotel Group, but there were no nights available. The next time we had a rewards night, we tried again and, with a little perseverance and help from central bookings, we got in.

A trip to Amsterdam was planned around our night in the InterContinental Amstel. This is the story of our experience.

Canal boats regularly pass the Amstel Hotel.

Canal boats regularly pass the Amstel Hotel.

The Exterior

The River Side

Most visitors to Amsterdam see only the river side of the Amstel Hotel. This was opened in 1867 as the west wing of a much bigger hotel which was originally going to face the Sarphatistraat and have 4 wings. The rest of the hotel was never built, so the entrance was made on the back of the west wing. Some have described the style of the hotel as Renaissance, with the yellow and red brick facades seen as typical Dutch. But it is easy to see the influence of some of Europe's most famous buildings on this Golden Age hotel. In 1900 another floor was added above the cornice and in 1953 a lounge was built on the river terrace. In the early 1990s, the lounge was replaced by a glass extension.

The Front Entrance

A large balcony overlooks the grand pillared entrance to the hotel with flags hanging from it, decorated with the hotel motif. There are three sets of carpeted steps leading up between the columns to three entrances. The main section of the blue carpet has the hotel crest on it. The combination makes an impressive front entrance.

Makeover

A full restoration of the roof and outside of the Amstel Hotel took place from February 2017, taking a year and a day (the same time the hotel took to be built). It has restored the hotel to its former glory and, at great effort and expense, the lions have been replaced on the building.

First Impressions

We arrived at the Amstel in a Tesla X taxi, with its falcon-wing doors, which was an experience in itself and fitting transport to this prestigious hotel. The entrance of the Amstel is onto the relatively quiet tree-lined area of Professor Tulpplein. Even a dull day could not dim its grandeur.

No sooner had we exited the taxi than our bags were taken from us by the smartly dressed porters and we were handed a ticket.

A grand entrance.

A grand entrance.

The Entrance Hall

I went to open the revolving door but found it hard to push unaided. I was motioned towards one of the side doors by a porter. The lobby area was very ornate. Before us lay an impressive floral display and a grand staircase leading up to the next level and open balcony, which overlooked the arched lobby area.

To the left, under the arches, were the check-in desks and to the right was the concierge's station.

Check in and Welcome

We were ushered towards a desk under the arches on the left, where the guest service assistant offered us a seat each, similar to an appointment with a solicitor. We were welcomed to the hotel, booking details were confirmed, passports checked and we handed over the baggage ticket. Welcome points were awarded and we were offered a glass of prosecco or water (not a great choice of alcohol-free beverages I thought). We chose the prosecco and we made use of the pull-out shelves for this purpose. My husband asked about the standard offer of drinks vouchers at check-in. This was agreed but promptly forgotten. My husband returned later to collect the vouchers.

A Choice of Rooms

We were told that a nice room on the top floor had been selected for us. We asked a few questions about its location and the view. The guest service assistant was keen to emphasize the size of the room but conceded that it only had a side river view. He had an alternative, however, with a river view on a lower floor, but it was smaller. Which would we like?

Now, it's difficult to make a decision when you are unfamiliar with the options, so he offered to show us both. Without further ado, he grabbed a key and headed to the lift. We were left with a dilemma. Remember the two glasses of prosecco? Should we leave them, take them with us or drink them quickly? Putting all thought of correct etiquette aside, we downed them at speed and played follow-my-leader through the hotel.

The Prosecco Challenge

The Choice

Moving fast, we followed the guest service assistant towards a rather dated, but well-decorated lift. He took us up to a room at the far end of the building, which was in the eaves of the roof. The floor space was impressive, but the views were disappointing, as the windows were at floor level, so the view was best appreciated by sitting on the floor or bending over, not ideal. Added to that, the main view was overlooking Sarphatistraat. We later noticed that this was quite a busy road from the bridge over the river and a frequent tram route, so not the quietest of locations. With its sloping roof and low windows, this room felt like we were in the servants' quarters.

The guest service assistant struggled to contain his disappointment, when, taking him at his word, we asked to see the second room. Added to that, he had been so confident of us taking the upper room that he had no key for the other. We then had a rapid walk back to the lift and his desk to get another key.

It was certainly worth the effort, as our minds were quickly made up when we saw room 220. It was a little smaller, but the two large windows overlooking the River Amstel more than made up for the size reduction. We were happy with our choice, but I don't think the guest service assistant was too impressed.

Our two room choices.

Our two room choices.

Room Choices

Our Room

In keeping with the rest of the Amstel Hotel, room 220, was furnished and decorated in an elegant antique style, with the occasional concession to the modern era.

The layout

A small entrance, with a wardrobe to the left, led into a high-ceilinged bedroom. There was a connecting locked door on the right wall to the neighboring room. Two large windows were on the wall opposite the entrance and a door on the other side of the room opened into the bathroom.

Decor

Three of the walls were covered with a cream patterned wallpaper. A printed wallpaper in orange and peach of country scenes was on the wall behind the bed and also around the main door. This print was repeated on the material of the headboard, a runner across the bed, two cushions, and on a long stool at the end of the bed.

The bed base was beige, but the duvet was in a white stripe, with a white sheet and pillows.

There was a good quality diamond-patterned carpet in beige and orange.

The full-length black-out curtains, net curtains and cream curtains with gold and orange rope tie-backs at each of the windows were effective at cutting out the light.

There were several quality prints on the walls. The 'Entree de Charles VII dans Rouen' was in a gold frame by the door. Old Amsterdam prints of the 'Maison de Misericorde' and 'Chapelle de Vieux Quartier' were either side of the TV. Between the windows, there was a dull framed floral print. A print of 'Maison des Pauvres', Amsterdam was on the wall near the bathroom door.

Fixtures and Fittings

By the main door, there was a built-in old-fashioned wardrobe, which has witnessed the comings and goings of many guests over the years. Once opened, a light came on to reveal the interior. There was a basket inside the wardrobe for guests' shoes to be placed outside the door to be cleaned and a shoehorn. Some of the 12 hangers were padded. There was an iron and ironing board, a high shelf across the top, a safe on a side shelf and a mirror inside the door.

A large square mirror in a gold-painted frame was hung on the wall behind the desk.

Furniture

Beyond the connecting door was a large wood, brass-trimmed cupboard on legs, with a peach marble top. It had 4 cubby holes and a minibar in it.

There was a folding wooden-framed suitcase holder with black webbing.

An ornate, high-backed armchair in a gold and orange patterned material with a roll cushion and curved wooden legs matched the upright chair by the desk. The latter had a slightly worn seat and the back looked to have been recently reupholstered. There were beige leather pads on the wooden arms.

A wooden brass-trimmed cupboard with three drawers with drop handles and a peach marble top was located between the windows. The bedside tables were in a matching design, each with two drawers (one fixed and one opening).

The bed base was large, as it was two single bases put together. The bed and the pillows were very comfortable.

An ornate glass-topped desk, with curved legs and brass decoration on it, was along the wall near the bathroom door. It had a single slim drawer.

Lighting and electrics

There was a standard lamp with a large pleated white shade and a circular table around its stand. It had a very old plug, which went into a dated multi-point plug socket.

Either side of the bed there were large floral-decorated China-based lamps with pleated white shades matching the standard lam. A brass switch box by the bed controlled lighting and air conditioning. On the other bedside table, there was a mounted double European plug socket. 6 plug sockets were below the desk with another at desk height.

The print by the door had a light over it and there was a ceiling light directed towards a floral print between the windows. An old-fashioned hooded brass desk light with a pull switch stood on the desk.

The main air conditioning control was located near the bathroom door as well as a useful dimmer switch for the bathroom lighting.

The modern elements

The safe was a touch button one.

There was a large flat-screen TV and a soundbar on top of the cupboard near the connecting door. We wondered if the large black box on the floor to the side had something to do with the TV or the internet signal.

An Illy espresso machine with 2 lungo and 2 decaffeinated capsules, stood on top of the cupboard between the windows. An electric hot water jug for hot drinks was nearby. However the lead was not long enough to reach the plug socket, so we moved it to the desktop.

A glow stick and a safety booklet were in one of the bedside drawers.

There were two standard hotel telephones, one by the bed and one on the desk.

The bin by the desk was split into two sections for recycling.

Refreshments

There were two categories of refreshments, the free ones, and the payable ones. These were accompanied by a selection of 2 cups and saucers, 2 glass latte cups, 2 crystal tumblers, 2 wine glasses, and 2 more glasses.

Free

In addition to the coffee capsules, there was a selection of tea bags: lemon fresh, herbal infusion, Rooibos cream orange, English breakfast, and Earl Grey as well as sugar, creamer, and cocoa.

There was a single 50cl bottle of Evian water on the desk with a bottle opener and 2 glass tumblers.

Chargeable

Four sealed glass jars of various snacks were on a silver stand, along with a selection of wine and spirits in sealed bottles. The minibar price list was on the desk in a leather binder.

Miscellaneous

A New Testament Bible was in one of the bedside drawers. At one time most hotels had Gideon bibles, but there are not so many these days.

A Gassan magazine, publicizing the diamond company, was in the other bedside drawer.

There was a book on Amsterdam in the desk drawer as well as a sewing kit and writing paper. Paper coasters with the hotel monogram were on the desk, along with a notepad and pen.

The 9th edition of the Amstel Hotel lifestyle magazine, with articles on the hotel, was in the room for guests to read.

The River View

The two tall windows each had two large inward opening panels at the bottom, revealing a low balustrade outside. The room looked down to a river terrace with outdoor seating below and the hotel's own two rivercraft. To the left below was the glass roof of the hotel lounge.

We were privileged to overlook an everchanging scene by day and night. Rivercraft of all sizes passed by, as well as the hotel's own launches. I only wish I had been quick enough with a camera to capture the guy on a paddleboard on his way to work! The bridge by the hotel was raised to allow a large vessel to get through and at the other extreme, we saw a couple in a pedalo.

The Bathroom

The spacious bathroom was split into three areas, the main bath and sink area, a separate shower off to the left, and a toilet cubicle beyond the bath.

The bath and sink area

The bathroom was tastefully decorated with cream and beige square floor tiles matching similar colored wall tiles, topped part way up with an orange trim. Above the tile line, the walls were decorated with a cream-patterned wallpaper, lifting off in places along the seam. There were more tiles around the arch into the shower cubicle, one of which, near the bottom of the door frame, had been cracked and repaired.

A rectangular mirror in a gold-colored frame hung on the wall opposite the main door, with a hairdryer fixed next to it and a heated towel rail below with two monogrammed bath towels.

Two monogrammed bathrobes were on hangers inside the bathroom door. To the side of the door, there was an oval white sink with old-fashioned taps, set in a cream marble curved top with a cream wooden fascia matching the side of the bath. A free-standing circular shaving mirror with a chrome stand was to the right. There was also a small chrome tissue box, soap dish, vanity kit, cotton balls, shower cap, and cotton pads, as well as a chrome sign drawing attention to the hot water.

To the left of the sink, there was a glass tray with a gold-colored frame and stand, with 2 crystal tumblers, 2 hand and body lotions, 3 flannels, and an environmental policy notice about a greener world.

Behind the sink, there was a large rectangular wall-mounted mirror in an ornate gold-colored frame with a spotlight above. There were white tulip-shaded lamps on either side of the mirror.

Below the sink, there was an old set of scales in glass and chrome, two thin InterContinental Amstel bags containing plain white slippers, and a white Brabantia pedal bin.

The white bath along the adjacent wall was of a good size and deep. There were old-fashioned bath taps at the end with a shower head in a cradle. Complimentary shower gel, shampoo, and conditioner were on a tiled shelf running the length of the bath and there was a bathmat hanging over the side.

A print of 'Het Kastel Torenburcht' in a gold-colored frame hung over the bath. There was a retractable clothesline located above the bath.

A free-standing chrome towel ring with a ring and 3 swivel rails with towels on, was next to the bath.

The shower

An opaque glass door with the Amstel monogram engraved on it led into the fully tiled shower area. There was a large shower head in the ceiling and an old-fashioned shower and hose in the corner, which had to be handheld, as there was no rail. Shower gel, shampoo, and conditioner were on a small chrome rack in the corner. I'm not sure how recently the plumbing was updated in the Amstel, as when the bath drained there was a gurgling noise from the shower drain.

The toilet

Another opaque glass door led into the toilet area. This was similarly decorated to the bathroom area. A solid angular white toilet was mounted on the floor with a shower and hose on the wall nearby. There was a telephone on the wall.

Taking a Walk Around Hotel Amstel

Once we had settled into our room, we decided to explore the hotel. The corridors were wide and decorated to a high standard. The walls were cream up to a rail with a patterned cream and gold wallpaper above. The floor dropped a little via a slope and steps towards the ends of the hotel, to a slightly lower level. The rails were well polished. Lighting was from elaborate shaded wall lights and central bulbs in the ceiling. We did not encounter any other guests on the corridors. Carpets were of a good quality in sections of plain beige and floral print.

The central main entrance lobby or atrium took up the ground and first floor with a balcony running around the first-floor level from the double flight of stairs in the middle of the hotel. Around the walls of the balcony, there was a gallery of memorabilia and photos associated with the hotel. There were also doors onto the outside balcony, overlooking the entrance.

On the ground floor, past the staircase towards the back of the hotel, there was access to a bar area and also to the lounge looking onto the River Amstel. A river terrace was located outside the bar.

The Amstel also offers dining options at the Amstel Brasserie and La Rive restaurant, as well as private dining facilities in the hotel and the hotel's saloon boats. The boats were moored by the lower terrace, outside the leisure facilities in the basement.

Previous Guests

The display cabinets on the balcony hosted a who's who gallery of past guests. Sending photos home, some of our family assumed that the famous guests were there at the same time as us. Unfortunately, I have to say that nobody famous was around when we were there, or at least if they were, we didn't recognize them!

The Lounge

We visited the lounge twice during our stay to make use of the drinks' vouchers we had been given. It was located in a glass extension to the rear of the hotel, behind the main staircase and with views overlooking the River Amstel. The room was well lit with natural light and an impressive chandelier in the middle. The carpet was a blue pattern, matching the blue sofas in the middle of the room with low tables as well as some of the other chairs around higher tables. Other chairs were upholstered in a deep red or cream. There were large drop-down cream blinds at the windows. Tables were arranged by the windows and there was a long table at the end of the room. Along the wall of the main hotel, there was a display counter showcasing cakes. The atmosphere was calm and relaxed. In the afternoon we noticed some guests taking tea in the lounge.

Leisure Facilities

According to the hotel magazine, Hotel Amstel has had a Health and Fitness Club since 1993. We used these leisure facilities twice during our stay, once in the late afternoon and once mid-morning. Leaving the lift on the lower floor we saw an unmanned desk at the entrance to the leisure club. It was a case of finding our own way around.

Layout

The first area we walked into was the main pool area, which ran parallel to an outside river terrace, lined with hooded sunbeds. On our left, there was an alcove with refreshments. To our right, three alcoves each had two sunbeds and a table. Beyond these, in the far corner, there was a bank of lockers. Access to changing rooms and the spa area was further to the left. In front of us, there were sofas, a low table, a television, and magazines. Beyond this, was a table by the window with chairs and access in the corner to the gym.

Pool

A moderate-sized, rectangular pool of around 10 meters maximum length and 1.40 meters depth lay before us. Two sets of steps were inset into the pool at the far end. The size was adequate for a single swimmer, but any more and it felt crowded.

Jacuzzi

A big curved jacuzzi was set into the pool at the far end between the two sets of steps. It was warm but the water jets were weak. We also found that the small mosaic blue tiles left a rough edge on the seating in the jacuzzi.

Decor

The pool area was surrounded by beige floor tiles. Columns in the room were white, as was the ceiling apart from a darker inset area above the pool. The internal columns had candle-type lights mounted on them. The alcoves with sunbeds were painted grey or decorated with a classical mural on the wall behind. Ours had a vase with dried flowers on a fake window sill. The alcoves were separated off with fine grey mesh curtaining. The wooden sunbeds had cream cushioning and grey monogrammed towels placed on top of them.

There was a Greek-style statue of a lady at the far end of the pool in front of a big mirror in an ornate gold-colored frame. The stools on each side had cream padded cushions with beige stripes. The doors to an outside area beyond this had nets and cream curtains.

The tall windows in 4 sections with smaller panes at the top, looking out onto an outside terrace, overlooking the river, had pull-down blinds in a fine cream mesh material.

Gym Equipment

The gym was small, but it had a good view overlooking the river and wall mirrors at the far end helped to disguise its size. There were two treadmills, a cross trainer, an exercise bike, a set of weights, a mat, weight resistance machine, benches, and a large ball. The size of this room probably explained why there was a rowing machine by the pool and an exercise bike near the lockers. There were also light weights on the poolside.

Spa

Apart from a rustic brick wall, this modern area was tiled in a mixture of small mosaic brown and grey tiles and large slate grey floor. There was a steam room, sauna, and plunge pool. The shower area was unusual with a horizontal shower and a 'rain sky' shower.

Changing Facilities

There was a pile of towels and bathrobes for guests to help themselves to in the changing rooms. The Ladies changing area had large cream floor tiles and was decorated in a deep red wall covering halfway up the wall with a red and pink floral design above. There were white slatted lockers with keys and bands and wooden benches around the edge of the room. Two white sinks with large white framed mirrors were in the main changing area with two showers and two toilet cubicles nearby. There were also scales, wall-mounted hairdryers, and toiletries.

Refreshments

The complimentary refreshments were a bonus near the pool. There was an old marble-topped table with jugs of water, cranberry and orange juice, a bowl of fresh fruit and small dishes of dried vegetables, nuts, and dried fruit. Opposite this, there was a cupboard and fridge with hot drinks facilities.

Aqua Aerobics

As with many hotel leisure facilities, the Amstel hosts a leisure club for local people. I was, however, a little surprised to hear loud music coming from the pool as I left the changing room in the early evening. An aqua aerobics class was in full swing for the local Amsterdam members (which explained the weights by the pool). There had been nothing to advise us of this, but as we were leaving, it was not a problem.

The following morning, however, was a different matter. We were surprised to find another class filling the pool at 10.15 am. The lady running it was apologetic and told us it would be over by 11.00 am. The music was so loud that it was hard to relax by the pool so we headed for the spa facilities. True to her word, the class finished at 11.00 am, but a lot of the participants lingered for over an hour after, many of them sitting chatting in the jacuzzi.

Interaction With Staff

Check-in

Although polite, we felt that the guest service assistant rushed us around the hotel and was not happy with our choice of room.

Porters

The porters were polite and quick to relieve us of our luggage, but they were not as quick to operate the revolving entrance door as the hotel magazine suggests.

Housekeeping

All the housekeeping staff we came across were polite, courteous, and helpful. A lovely lady knocked on our door in the evening to offer the 'turn down' service. When we declined, she handed over 2 small stroopwafel biscuits and offered more towels, which she was quick to get.

A request for more teabags was quickly actioned the following day.

Lounge staff

We did not have the best of experiences in the lounge. On our first afternoon, we went to use drinks vouchers. From past experience, we thought they were for house wine or beer, but we decided to check. The lady serving us said that they were valid for any drink. Not convinced, I double-checked, but she assured me that we could order anything from the menu. So, based on this advice, we ordered glasses of the more expensive wines on the list. After some time, the lady returned empty-handed and informed us that our vouchers were for house wine only. So we duly ordered two glasses of the house wine but felt that our treatment left a little to be desired.

The following afternoon, we returned with two more drinks vouchers, this time with a handwritten note on them so that we could order anything. As luck would have it, we encountered the same server. We ordered two expensive glasses of wine and handed over our vouchers. After some time she returned empty-handed and said "These vouchers are only for the house wine. But, on this occasion, I will make an exception" in a condescending tone. Not wanting to be outdone, my husband quickly countered "I think that if you turn the voucher over, you will see that your colleague has written that we can have any drink from the menu". Not best pleased, the server then spent a considerable length of time preparing our drinks, so much so that we nearly gave up and left.

Reception staff

After our first visit to the lounge and mix up with the drinks voucher, my husband felt that our treatment was unacceptable so he approached a guest service assistant on reception to complain. She was very understanding and agreed that having advised us twice that we could order anything from the drinks menu, the server in the lounge had been wrong to withdraw the offer. In order to put this right, we were given a voucher for two more drinks, with a handwritten note advising that we could order any drink from the menu.

Duty Manager

In the early evening we received a call from the duty manager, but, as the line was bad, she opted to visit our room. Her purpose was to check that we were happy with the outcome of our complaint. There appeared to be some confusion over the drinks vouchers and further staff training was proposed. She was very polite and apologetic and offered further assistance. She later rang to confirm a complimentary late check out of 4.00 pm, which we were very happy with.

Check out

The guest service assistant at check out was keen to find out how our stay had been. Having only recently had our second run-in with the server in the lounge, we were less than forthcoming. She pressed us for a view on our stay, so my husband expressed disappointment, explaining our treatment in the lounge and also commenting on the check-in experience. She was clearly at a loss to know what to do with negative feedback, so she just smiled, shrugged her shoulders, and said: "You have had a rewards night".

Concierge

As we exited the lift to check out, our cases were taken from us by the concierge. My husband requested a taxi. The concierge asked, "Where to?" (the question I was dreading). When my husband said "Holiday Inn Express City Hall", the concierge gave him a look of surprise mixed with disgust. I'm not sure any other guests would have had this destination before! The destination was not conveyed to the taxi driver, who was expecting a fare to the airport or, at least the station. When he asked my husband, he was clearly annoyed, as the Holiday Inn Express was within walking distance.

Acting General Manager

My husband, still feeling hard done by, from our treatment at the Amstel hotel, which was further emphasized by the contrast with the friendliness and helpfulness of the staff at our next hotel, Holiday Inn Express City Hall, Amsterdam, wrote a review of our stay at the Amstel on Tripadvisor. The acting general manager of the Amstel asked us to make contact via email. We duly did this, going through our experience in detail and listing the small touches (like sweets on the pillow with the weather forecast, a note from the manager, sweets at check-in with bags to take them away in and the unavailable monogrammed slippers) described in the hotel magazine, which were absent during our stay.

We received a prompt reply, promising to get back to us the next day, after talking to members of staff. I felt this deadline was a little tight. After a week I sent a reminder and received an email back, apologizing for our experience and offering 30,000 IHG rewards points. I felt this was a fair resolution, especially when, with a little care, these could be exchanged for 2-3 nights in a Holiday Inn or Holiday Inn Express hotel.

Amsterdam flag.

Amsterdam flag.

Three Crosses

What Do the Three Crosses Mean on the Flag?

No, this has nothing to do with any rating of the hotel. Although, having heard our guest experience, you might be forgiven for thinking so.

We were told on a canal cruise that the three crosses represent the people of Amsterdam saying 'No' to the three scourges of fire, floods, and plagues.

Some have suggested, slightly tongue in cheek, that it refers to Amsterdam's liberal reputation for triple X entertainment.

Others suggest that the black stripe represents the River Amstel and that the black crosses represent three fordable places along the river.

It has been said that the symbols date back to 1505 when Amsterdam was a fisherman's town. St Andrew was a 1st Century AD fisherman, who was crucified on an X-shaped cross.

In fact, there is no definite explanation, but the city of Amsterdam adopted the flag in 1975 and the symbol appears in many places across the city.

Our Money-Saving Tips

  1. Search for available deals. Our rewards night came via a credit card deal.
  2. Sign up for hotel rewards schemes. They are usually free and members get preferential treatment determined by their membership status. Points can often add up and be redeemed for free hotel stays.
  3. Self-cater. Don't feel obliged to spend out on expensive meals in a hotel. Research local supermarkets. We found a nearby Lidl, where we bought food and drinks, which we stored in the minibar/fridge in our room. We took disposable plates, cutlery, and snacks with us. Our evening meal, of ready-made salads, fruit, and wine, was eaten in our room overlooking the River Amstel, as was breakfast of cereals with milk and lunch of rolls with spreads the following day. This saved us a considerable amount of money.
  4. Research nearby dining alternatives. If self-catering is not your thing, a halfway option would be to find reasonably priced eating places in the locality of the hotel.
  5. To maximize your stay, ask about a later checkout. I would not advise paying, but some hotels offer a complimentary later check out time if they can.
  6. If you have a grievance, don't be shy to complain. I was all for letting our first lounge experience go, but, unusually my husband was keen to complain. This resulted in more free drinks. After check-out, I thought that was our lot. It was the Tripadvisor review, which sparked the involvement of the acting general manager and ultimately resulted in a points payout.
A meal on the cheap.

A meal on the cheap.

Final Thoughts

It would be fair to say that our experience at the Amstel Hotel was a little mixed. Unfortunately, the service we received did not match the stunning location. However, I have to acknowledge that the final outcome was fair and that the acting general manager took ownership of the issues raised and came up with a fair resolution.

It is on this basis that I would have to give our stay an overall 3-star rating. But I would hope that future visitors will find the service now matching the surroundings to boost the overall rating higher.

If you are ever in Amsterdam, keep an eye out on a canal cruise for the Hotel Amstel. If you get the opportunity, maybe stay a night there or treat yourself to a drink in the lounge.

InterContinental Amstel, Amsterdam.

InterContinental Amstel, Amsterdam.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2018 Liz Westwood

Comments

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on March 28, 2020:

Already, after less than a week, the lock down feels like it has gone on for a while. It's strange to think that globally travel has almost stopped completely. It is difficult to contemplate going away at the moment. We have to book leave and organise trips in advance so I think that even when things start to open up again, it will be a while before we go anywhere. I feel sorry for all those whose jobs have gone, as a result. The rising toll of those dying from the virus is heartbreaking.

Denise McGill from Fresno CA on March 28, 2020:

How do you feel during this current lockdown, not being able to travel or even go out? Do you think you will be tempted to fly away on some vacation as soon as it is all over? I know I'd like to.

Blessings,

Denise

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on March 26, 2020:

Thank you for your comment, Peggy. I have a lot of information about Amsterdam and I am planning on writing some articles about it when I get the chance. It is a lovely city to visit. I would recommend a stopover if possible. It makes for a great city break.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on March 24, 2020:

It would be fun to spend some time exploring Amsterdam instead of just stopping at the airport for a transfer. Your hotel reviews are always so comprehensive, allowing people to know what they can expect if they choose to stay there. Having the river view would be a plus were I given the choice.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on March 12, 2020:

Thank you for your comment, Denise. We have recently stayed in another InterContinental and I am thinking of writing about the experience.

Denise McGill from Fresno CA on March 12, 2020:

As always, a very thorough description with details necessary for guiding the novice traveler like me. I feel like I got to visit with you and see the sights.

Blessings,

Denise

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on December 15, 2019:

That sounds like quite an experience. IHG is an interesting brand. I presume you focused specifically on the Intercontinental hotels, rather than any of their other brands. Our favourite so far is the Intercontinental, Estoril in Portugal.

DHWebb from United Kingdom on December 14, 2019:

It took me 2 days to photograph, so I got to sit down for formal meals In the restaurant with the bosses in their fancy suits, lol, and me in my standard all black photography gear.

I did all the public areas, including that fabulous sweeping staircase, and about 7 or 8 different bedrooms. So many of them are completely different and unique from the others.

They are owned by the InterContinental Hotel Group, so it was up to the group how they used the pictures. They had web advertising in mind, but I have seen a lot of my pics in brochures and magazine (I did all their European hotels), so I was travelling to different cities staying in all the posh - and often not so posh - hotels. I got to see and explore a lot of European cities for free. Sounds great, but I was glad to get home and eat good home cooking each time, instead of either rich or plastic hotel food, and to sleep in my own bed :)

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on December 13, 2019:

Thanks for your comment, DHWebb. That's really interesting. Presumably they got you in to publicise the hotel after its refurbishment. There was a very interesting and well-illustrated magazine about the hotel in the room.

Did you manage to shoot all the photos in one day or did you get to stay overnight? It sounds like you have a fascinating job.

DHWebb from United Kingdom on December 13, 2019:

It was so interesting to read your review of the Amstel. I was the pro photographer who did all their advertising photography a couple of years ago. The bedrooms - and the royal suite - are amazing. They even have a private dining room for VIP guests.

What a shame the staff let down what should have been a first class experience.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on December 03, 2019:

Thank you for your comment, Patricia. I hope you get to Amsterdam some day. It is a lovely city. I try to give as much detail as possible in hotel reviews to help other travellers in their choice of hotels.

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on December 02, 2019:

Thank you for the detailed information. The more I know about a place before I travel the more comfortable I feel. I would love to travel there some day. Angels are headed your way this evening ps

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on September 02, 2019:

Thank you very much for your comment, Devika. Amsterdam is a quick flight from the UK, less than an hour. We would not usually stay in a hotel as grand as this, but we were very fortunate to have a free night to use here.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on September 02, 2019:

There is lots to see in Europe and your choices are beautiful and worth my time to visit. Informative and useful to experienced travelers or someone traveling for the first time.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on August 30, 2019:

Thanks for your comment, Ellen. It was a unique experience for us. Having viewed the hotel from the outside many years before it was interesting to test it out. Our experience didn't quite go as expected.

Ellen Gregory from Connecticut, USA on August 30, 2019:

Sounds like an interesting experience. A chance to stay at a hotel with a history and character.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on April 27, 2019:

Thank you for your comment, Aurelio. It is certainly more expensive than the accommodation we usually book. We ended up here because we had a voucher for a free night. I had been intrigued to find out what it was like inside.

Aurelio Locsin from Orange County, CA on April 26, 2019:

It looks like a beautiful place to say in. But I think it's probably more expensive than the accommodations we usually book when traveling abroad.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on March 29, 2019:

Thanks for your comment, Virginia. It was an interesting experience staying in the Amstel. This was our second visit to Amsterdam. I would highly recommend it as there is so much to see and do there. It's a useful short break location as so many flights transit through Schiphol airport.

Virginia Allain from Central Florida on March 29, 2019:

What a handsome place to stay. You've certainly been thorough in your coverage of it and the photos were great too. I hope someday to get to Amsterdam.

Liza from USA on February 07, 2019:

You know what Liz, I can't remember the name of the hotel. It was late. All I want is a nice warm shower and to close my eyes for a few hours. Luckily, around 5 am I was rung by one of the passengers that were also stranded - we went to the airport before 6 am to get a flight to fly back to Kuala Lumpur. It was very chaotic but, I was grateful when they managed to put me on the afternoon flight that day.

I heard the same thing. Next time, I should research a few places nearby so I can take advantage of it.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on January 31, 2019:

Thanks for your comment, Liza. We spent the first night in a hotel out near the airport. Where did you stay? I have heard that Amsterdam is very popular for short break stopovers. Maybe next time you transit through Schiphol you can factor in a few days in the city. There's a lot to do there.

Liza from USA on January 31, 2019:

Hey Liz, perfect detail article about the city of Amsterdam. I can tell from the photos taken around the city, hotel, and well-written story. I didn't have a chance to go around the city but, I had an experience stranded in Amsterdam because the flight had an issue. Luckily, Schiphol Airport accommodated us a nice hotel not far from the airport to stay for one night. I'd love to go to the city to explore Amsterdam with my husband. Thanks for sharing!

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on January 16, 2019:

Thanks for your comment, Linda. This was the third InterContinental I have stayed in. My favorite was the Atlantico near Cascais, Portugal. It was the opposite of the Amstel, as it was fairly new, very modern and had excellent service.

Linda Chechar from Arizona on January 16, 2019:

Really enjoyed this review. The hotel's architecture is quite impressive and the photos of the public areas are quite elegant. I've stayed in several Intercontinental hotels and one of the best was in San Jose, Costa Rica. The service was 5-star and the accommodations were superb. You just never know how the quality and service will be from one to the next.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on January 16, 2019:

Thank you for your comment, Ethel. You are right. It is a very mixed review. Some things you can overlook, such as slightly dated bathrooms, in a building of such character. But the service was definitely not 5 star.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on January 16, 2019:

Thank you for your comment,Gregory. I was fascinated by the hotel before we stayed there. So, given the opportunity, I wanted to write detailed feedback. On one of my early writing attempts on another site, the criticism was that my hotel review lacked detail. I guess I have been going to the opposite extreme ever since.

Ethel Smith from Kingston-Upon-Hull on January 16, 2019:

A mixed review then. It looks stylish in many ways but that can be deceptive. In other images such as the bathroom it looks tired. Thanks for such a thorough review Liz

Gregory DeVictor on January 15, 2019:

Liz, you have provided your readers with a thorough and detail-oriented description of the hotel. Very nice job indeed.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on December 18, 2018:

Thanks for your comment, Natalie. I appreciate you stopping by.

Natalie Frank from Chicago, IL on December 18, 2018:

Thanks for the comprehensive review, Liz. I feel as if I've been there!

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on December 17, 2018:

Thank you for your comment, Hayley. I hope that I will have had time to write more about my Amsterdam trip by the time you and your boyfriend visit next year. It is a lovely city.

Hayley Dodwell on December 17, 2018:

Thank you for sharing this, my boyfriend and I are going to Amsterdam next year. So this information is very helpful indeed! Thanks again!

Jeff Zod from Nairobi on December 14, 2018:

Hey Liz,

You are most welcome.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on December 14, 2018:

Thanks for the suggestion, Erudite Scholar. I might consider this when I get around to reviewing the article next time.

Erudite Scholar on December 14, 2018:

Hey Liz,

You can split the article into two parts.One part can deal with the architecture and the other with your experience visiting the hotel.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on December 14, 2018:

Thank you for your comment, FlourishAnyway. I am pleased to hear that you were entertained by my article. It just goes to show that a 5 star establishment does not necessarily give consistent 5 star service. Our next hotel, a Holiday Inn Express gave us far superior service.

I used to be a little hesitant in signing up for points schemes, but I am all for it now. Credit cards are also worth checking out for points deals.

I am happy to have the turndown service if I am out, but always feel a little awkward hanging around while staff do it. I guess, at the back of my head, I feel like I should do it myself rather than watch someone else do it.

I am pleased you got here in the end. I too have missed some articles because I have not been notified.

FlourishAnyway from USA on December 13, 2018:

I was entertained by your unfortunate situation and the complaint that ensued. Seems like they need to do a much better job not only at initial customer service but also service recovery.

I like that you got the stay using points and scored bonus points for your trouble with rude staff. My husband and I have stayed at some of the most whoop te doo hotels in the US and Europe on points (glorious points that he earned with work travel). We expect first class service just as if we had paid outright for the room. I always opt for the turndown service.

I didn’t get the notification on this article so I’m late to the party but glad to catch up.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on December 10, 2018:

Thanks for your comment, Paola. I always appreciate a hotel stay and getting a good deal helps too.

Paola Bassanese from London on December 10, 2018:

Some great tips right there for booking a hotel at the best deal. Just like you, I would have chosen the smaller room with better views. Size isn't everything! A good night's sleep is priceless. Shame the overall experience wasn't worth 5 stars, but it's always good to get out of the house!

Paola

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on December 10, 2018:

Thanks for the advice, Jeff. I sometimes get conflicting advice on Hub Pages. Early on I was told to go for longer detailed articles. Although I soon realised that city trips like Porto and Prague offered enough material for several articles. How would you split this article? Would you suggest day one/day two or by grouping facilities? The pool was a little small for a serious swimmer, but it was set in a relaxing environment.

Jeff Zod from Nairobi on December 10, 2018:

Hi Liz,

This is a very hefty read.I wish you could break the article into two parts.The hotel seems like a place I would love to visit.the decor is enchanting.I really love the Olympic sized swimming pool.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on December 09, 2018:

Thank you for your comment, Peggy. Our stay at the Amstel was definitely an experience. Schiphol airport is a major transport hub and many people transit through it. We stayed one night near the airport and there was a big mix of nationalities in our hotel. I have recently read that Amsterdam is a top stopover destination for long-haul travelers. Maybe next time you pass through, you might consider a short break in the city?

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on December 09, 2018:

The views from that hotel are stunning! Thanks for your in-depth article. I have only been in the Amsterdam airport so have not gotten a chance to see anything of the city. The hotel is a beauty despite the service issues you experienced. I am glad that you were eventually compensated to your satisfaction for the glitches in service.

DJ Hurst on December 03, 2018:

Hi Liz

Yes, I was strutting about the place like I owned it. I did enjoy myself it's true. They told me it was about to be renovated that year.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on December 02, 2018:

That's really interesting. How was your stay in the Amstel? Did it live up to your expectations? You must have got in there just before they started the exterior renovations.

Daniel J Hurst from London on December 02, 2018:

When I was 17 I lived in a squat in Amsterdam. I've lived a number of lives. I always envied the people I saw going in and out the Amstel, but times have changed and I ended up staying there 2 years ago. Imagine how it felt going from the outside looking in to the other way round.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on November 29, 2018:

Thank you for your comment,Thelma. I have heard that Kings Day celebrations are well worth seeing. You timed your visit well. I hope you get to experience a stay in the Amstel sometime.

Thelma Alberts from Germany and Philippines on November 28, 2018:

I have passed by this hotel many times when I was in Amsterdam. In fact I was there in the city during the Kings Day this year 2018. Reading this hub is great as I didn't know about this hotel until now. I hope I can stay there one day which is very impossible as my sis lives nearby. Thanks for the review.

Robert Sacchi on November 28, 2018:

Thank you. That seems good hotel advice for most historic cities.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on November 28, 2018:

Thanks for stopping by, Bill. I have read that the Amstel Hotel took a year and a day to build, which I find hard to believe. I guess it would have been a lot longer had they built the rest of it as planned. Imagine what a sight that would have been if what we have here is just one wing.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on November 28, 2018:

Sorry I'm late here. I never saw the notification about this.Sigh! Anyway, thanks for sharing. The architecture is breathtaking. How long it must have taken to build such a building....I am blown away by how magnificent it is.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on November 28, 2018:

Thanks for your comment, Lorna. The hotel and the view were very photogenic.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on November 28, 2018:

That's a difficult question to answer, Robert. I have had a quick look at the pricing of other 5 star hotels in Amsterdam and the Amstel appears to be in the middle. I think IHG must use complex algorithms to set their hotel prices. If you are looking for a stylish hotel in a palatial setting with river views and you are either willing to spend a little more as a special treat or you are accustomed to 5 star hotels and prices, then it is worth the money. If you are wanting a hotel as a base for exploring the city and plan on spending minimal time there, it is probably not worth it. You would be better spending less on the hotel and leaving more money for sightseeing.

One way of securing best value for money at the Amstel Hotel is having flexibility with your dates and playing around with the booking to see which dates come up as cheapest. IHG claim that booking direct gets the best rates and IHG rewards membership can secure a slight discount. In our case the hotel represented excellent value for money, as it was a free rewards night from a credit card spend.

Lorna Lamon on November 28, 2018:

Great informative article - worth a visit just for the view. Thanks for sharing.

Robert Sacchi on November 27, 2018:

You're welcome. On balance is it worth the money to stay there?

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on November 27, 2018:

Thanks for your comment, Robert. It expanded as I went along. This was no standard hotel. It was fairly unique.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on November 27, 2018:

Thank you for your comment, Melissa. I hope you get to Amsterdam in the future. There is a lot of interest to see there. When I get around to it I plan on writing more about our trip there.

Robert Sacchi on November 26, 2018:

I am impressed with the detail of this article, Great going.

Melissa Clason from Fayetteville, NC on November 26, 2018:

That is a beautiful hotel. I would love to visit Amsterdam someday. So much history!

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on November 26, 2018:

Thank you for your comment, Eman. It was an experience staying there.

Eman Abdallah Kamel from Egypt on November 26, 2018:

A very detailed article and so beautiful photos. Thanks, Liz.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on November 23, 2018:

Thanks for commenting, Linda. I was grateful for the opportunity to see inside The Amstel, so I thought it would be an idea to share with others. We were fortunate to end up in a room with a view.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on November 23, 2018:

Thanks for your comment,George.I hope you can go back sometime. Since we were last in Amsterdam, there seem to be more canal trips going. We did a couple of open boat trips this time. One of them included drinks. Our first time there we stayed in the Apple Inn, which was a little quirky with sloping floors and no lift. We also had a night in a botel, moored up near Centraal Station at the time.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on November 23, 2018:

Thanks for sharing such a detailed review, Liz. I've never been to the Amstel Hotel but felt like I was there as I was reading your article and looking at your photos. I love the views from your room.

George Johnson from San Antonio, TX on November 23, 2018:

Great photos. My wife and I visited Amsterdam years ago and loved it. We stayed at the Flying Pig hostel. We took the canal cruise and I’m sure we passed by the Amstel. Your article makes me want to go back.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on November 23, 2018:

Thank you for your feedback, Maria Elizabeth. Maybe I should think about using these capsules again in the future. They are useful for breaking an article up a bit.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on November 23, 2018:

Thanks for your comment, Dora. It was definitely an interesting experience. In truth I think I am more comfortable in a less prestigious setting with friendlier staff.

Maria Elizabeth from Cheshire/Greater Manchester, UK on November 23, 2018:

I loved your detailed descriptions and the accompanying illustrations. With the quizzes you invited us to an interactive walkthrough of the hotel with a real story to tell.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on November 23, 2018:

Thanks for sharing your tour of this illustrious hotel. Glad you finally got the opportunity to enjoy lt and I'm sure the memory will last a life time.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on November 23, 2018:

Thank you for your comment, Mary. You are so right. The phrase that springs to mind for me is "All that glitters is not gold". The building and facilities were top class, but unfortunately, some of the service (which is key to a hotel) did not match the 5* brand.

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on November 23, 2018:

The location is great but that was unfortunate that some of the staff members did not understand that though you were there on rewards points, that did not matter. It took so many hotels stays to get that and they are part of the hotel family you had been subsidizing. Sometimes, staff in those top hotels can be snobbish. It is good the managers understood what their mission is.

Mohan Babu from Chennai, India on November 23, 2018:

The view of the Intercontinental hotel overlooking the river is majestic.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on November 23, 2018:

Thank you for your comment, Leah. That sounds like a great tour. I would allow more time in Paris and Amsterdam, as Bruges is much the smaller of the three. We once stayed in Paris with 4 children, so I know exactly what you mean. We went to Anne Frank's house over 10 years ago. We were advised to get there early, which we did, as queues build up quickly. I was very impressed with the Resistance Museum in Amsterdam (Versetz Museum) this time. It had a good section aimed at children, which I found very interesting. We spent a night in the Hilton, which was within walking distance of the Rembrandt Museum.

Leah Lefler from Western New York on November 23, 2018:

What a beautiful hotel and location! We really want to do a tour of Amsterdam-Bruges-Paris, though we would probably go with AirBnB rentals since we are a family of four. Finding quadruple rooms in Europe can be expensive and difficult, so we are leaning toward apartment rentals. I would love to see Anne Frank's house and the Rembrandt Museum!