Intercontinental Amstel Amsterdam, a Thorough Hotel Appraisal

Updated on November 24, 2018
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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 Hotel, Amsterdam.
InterContinental Amstel Hotel, Amsterdam. | Source

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. | Source

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 for 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.

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The river side.Front entrance.Front balcony.A restored lion.
The river side.
The river side. | Source
Front entrance.
Front entrance. | Source
Front balcony.
Front balcony. | Source
A restored lion.
A restored lion. | Source

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. | Source

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.

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A fine entrance to the Amstel.An impressive staircase.The concierge's desk.
A fine entrance to the Amstel.
A fine entrance to the Amstel. | Source
An impressive staircase.
An impressive staircase. | Source
The concierge's desk.
The concierge's desk. | Source

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.

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Check-in desks.Check-in desks seen from above.
Check-in desks.
Check-in desks. | Source
Check-in desks seen from above.
Check-in desks seen from above. | Source

The Prosecco Challenge

What would you do if you had a glass of prosecco and were expected to take a walk?

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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. | Source

Room Choices

Which would you choose?

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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 showing 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, on a runner across the bed, on 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 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 sound bar 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.

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Desk, bed and drinks station.Bed and door into bathroom.TV and arch to entrance.Seating arrangements.Drinks station.Illuminated print by the door.The wardrobe.Hotel monogram.The elaborate furnishings.
Desk, bed and drinks station.
Desk, bed and drinks station. | Source
Bed and door into bathroom.
Bed and door into bathroom. | Source
TV and arch to entrance.
TV and arch to entrance. | Source
Seating arrangements.
Seating arrangements. | Source
Drinks station.
Drinks station. | Source
Illuminated print by the door.
Illuminated print by the door. | Source
The wardrobe.
The wardrobe. | Source
Hotel monogram.
Hotel monogram. | Source
The elaborate furnishings.
The elaborate furnishings. | Source

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 of outside seating below and the hotel's own two rivercraft. To the left below, could be seen 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 ship to get through and to the other extreme, we saw a couple in a pedalo.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Room with a view.Across the River Amstel.Night time scene.Looking down on the lounge.Looking down on the lounge at night.The hotel terrace and launch at night.Did the renovators leave their portacabin's behind?Open sesame.One of the Amstel launches.Pedalo on the Amstel.Tram on the bridge.A sight for boat trips.The River Amstel at night.
Room with a view.
Room with a view. | Source
Across the River Amstel.
Across the River Amstel. | Source
Night time scene.
Night time scene. | Source
Looking down on the lounge.
Looking down on the lounge. | Source
Looking down on the lounge at night.
Looking down on the lounge at night. | Source
The hotel terrace and launch at night.
The hotel terrace and launch at night. | Source
Did the renovators leave their portacabin's behind?
Did the renovators leave their portacabin's behind? | Source
Open sesame.
Open sesame. | Source
One of the Amstel launches.
One of the Amstel launches. | Source
Pedalo on the Amstel.
Pedalo on the Amstel. | Source
Tram on the bridge.
Tram on the bridge. | Source
A sight for boat trips.
A sight for boat trips. | Source
The River Amstel at night.
The River Amstel at night. | Source

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 and I noticed that one near the bottom of the door frame here 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, chrome 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 also 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 hand held, 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 also a telephone on the wall nearby.

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The bath and sink area through to the toilet.The door to the shower.A traditional shower.The bathroomThe sink area.The hotel monogram.
The bath and sink area through to the toilet.
The bath and sink area through to the toilet. | Source
The door to the shower.
The door to the shower. | Source
A traditional shower.
A traditional shower. | Source
The bathroom
The bathroom | Source
The sink area.
The sink area. | Source
The hotel monogram.
The hotel monogram. | Source

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 and then 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 leading to 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 opening out onto the outside balcony area, overlooking the entrance.

On the ground floor, walking 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. There was a river terrace 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.

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The corridor.The main staircase.The view from the first floor balcony.The outside balcony.
The corridor.
The corridor. | Source
The main staircase.
The main staircase. | Source
The view from the first floor balcony.
The view from the first floor balcony. | Source
The outside balcony.
The outside balcony. | Source

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!

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Queen Elizabeth IIThe Prince of Wales.George Clooney signed the visitors' book.Bill Clinton.Brad Pitt was here.
Queen Elizabeth II
Queen Elizabeth II | Source
The Prince of Wales.
The Prince of Wales. | Source
George Clooney signed the visitors' book.
George Clooney signed the visitors' book. | Source
Bill Clinton.
Bill Clinton. | Source
Brad Pitt was here.
Brad Pitt was here. | Source

The Lounge

We visited the lounge twice during our stay to make use of 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 in 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 along 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.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The lounge in the Hotel Amstel.Two glasses of house wine in the lounge.The lounge looking out over the River Amstel.Impressive chandelier in the glass lounge.The cake display area in the lounge.
The lounge in the Hotel Amstel.
The lounge in the Hotel Amstel. | Source
Two glasses of house wine in the lounge.
Two glasses of house wine in the lounge. | Source
The lounge looking out over the River Amstel.
The lounge looking out over the River Amstel. | Source
Impressive chandelier in the glass lounge.
Impressive chandelier in the glass lounge. | Source
The cake display area in the lounge.
The cake display area in the lounge. | Source

The 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 came upon an unmanned desk at the entrance to the leisure club. It was a case of finding our own way around.

The Layout

The first area we walked into was the main pool area, which ran parallel with an outside river terrace, lined with hooded sunbeds. To 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.

The 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.

The 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.

The Decor

The pool area was surrounded with 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 in 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.

The 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, 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.

The 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 11.00am, but a lot of the participants lingered for over an hour after, many of them sitting chatting in the jacuzzi.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The pool.The jacuzzi with rowing machine behind.Pool view out onto the terrace.Sunbeds in alcoves by the pool.The length of the pool.Hotel boat moored by the pool terrace.The gym.Refreshments.Hot drinks.
The pool.
The pool. | Source
The jacuzzi with rowing machine behind.
The jacuzzi with rowing machine behind. | Source
Pool view out onto the terrace.
Pool view out onto the terrace. | Source
Sunbeds in alcoves by the pool.
Sunbeds in alcoves by the pool. | Source
The length of the pool.
The length of the pool. | Source
Hotel boat moored by the pool terrace.
Hotel boat moored by the pool terrace. | Source
The gym.
The gym. | Source
Refreshments.
Refreshments. | Source
Hot drinks.
Hot drinks. | Source

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 of this, 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 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. | Source

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.

What Do You Think the Three Crosses Represent?

See results

Our Money-Saving Tips

  1. Search for available deals. Our rewards night came via a credit card deal.
  2. Sign up to 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. | Source
3 stars for InterContinental Amstel Amsterdam

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. | Source

Questions & Answers

    © 2018 Liz Westwood

    Comments

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      • Erudite Scholar profile image

        Jeff Zod 

        2 hours ago from Nairobi

        Hey Liz,

        You are most welcome.

      • Eurofile profile imageAUTHOR

        Liz Westwood 

        15 hours ago from UK

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

      • profile image

        Erudite Scholar 

        17 hours ago

        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.

      • Eurofile profile imageAUTHOR

        Liz Westwood 

        23 hours ago from UK

        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 profile image

        FlourishAnyway 

        27 hours ago from USA

        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.

      • Eurofile profile imageAUTHOR

        Liz Westwood 

        4 days ago from UK

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

      • paolaenergya profile image

        Paola Bassanese 

        4 days ago from London

        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

      • Eurofile profile imageAUTHOR

        Liz Westwood 

        4 days ago from UK

        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.

      • Erudite Scholar profile image

        Jeff Zod 

        4 days ago from Nairobi

        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.

      • Eurofile profile imageAUTHOR

        Liz Westwood 

        5 days ago from UK

        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 W profile image

        Peggy Woods 

        5 days ago from Houston, Texas

        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.

      • profile image

        DJ Hurst 

        11 days ago

        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.

      • Eurofile profile imageAUTHOR

        Liz Westwood 

        12 days ago from UK

        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.

      • Mamsa profile image

        DJ Hurst 

        12 days ago from London

        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.

      • Eurofile profile imageAUTHOR

        Liz Westwood 

        2 weeks ago from UK

        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 profile image

        Thelma Alberts 

        2 weeks ago from Germany and Philippines

        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 profile image

        Robert Sacchi 

        2 weeks ago

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

      • Eurofile profile imageAUTHOR

        Liz Westwood 

        2 weeks ago from UK

        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.

      • billybuc profile image

        Bill Holland 

        2 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

        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.

      • Eurofile profile imageAUTHOR

        Liz Westwood 

        2 weeks ago from UK

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

      • Eurofile profile imageAUTHOR

        Liz Westwood 

        2 weeks ago from UK

        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.

      • profile image

        Lorna Lamon 

        2 weeks ago

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

      • Robert Sacchi profile image

        Robert Sacchi 

        2 weeks ago

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

      • Eurofile profile imageAUTHOR

        Liz Westwood 

        2 weeks ago from UK

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

      • Eurofile profile imageAUTHOR

        Liz Westwood 

        2 weeks ago from UK

        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 profile image

        Robert Sacchi 

        2 weeks ago

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

      • Lissa Clason profile image

        Melissa Clason 

        2 weeks ago from Fayetteville, NC

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

      • Eurofile profile imageAUTHOR

        Liz Westwood 

        2 weeks ago from UK

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

      • Emmy ali profile image

        Eman Abdallah Kamel 

        2 weeks ago from Egypt

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

      • Eurofile profile imageAUTHOR

        Liz Westwood 

        3 weeks ago from UK

        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.

      • Eurofile profile imageAUTHOR

        Liz Westwood 

        3 weeks ago from UK

        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.

      • AliciaC profile image

        Linda Crampton 

        3 weeks ago from British Columbia, Canada

        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.

      • Believe in USA profile image

        George Johnson 

        3 weeks ago from San Antonio, Th

        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.

      • Eurofile profile imageAUTHOR

        Liz Westwood 

        3 weeks ago from UK

        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.

      • Eurofile profile imageAUTHOR

        Liz Westwood 

        3 weeks ago from UK

        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.

      • Mariaelizabeth profile image

        Maria Elizabeth 

        3 weeks ago from Cheshire/Greater Manchester, UK

        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.

      • MsDora profile image

        Dora Weithers 

        3 weeks ago from The Caribbean

        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.

      • Eurofile profile imageAUTHOR

        Liz Westwood 

        3 weeks ago from UK

        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.

      • aesta1 profile image

        Mary Norton 

        3 weeks ago from Ontario, Canada

        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.

      • Babu Mohan profile image

        Mohan Babu 

        3 weeks ago from Chennai, India

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

      • Eurofile profile imageAUTHOR

        Liz Westwood 

        3 weeks ago from UK

        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.

      • leahlefler profile image

        Leah Lefler 

        3 weeks ago from Western New York

        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!

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