Here in Amsterdam’s ‘De Negen Straatjes,’ where each corner and canal is even more charming than the next, sits a hidden gem of a hotel.
Even most of the locals who cycle along the water every day breeze past without any inkling of what’s behind the glossy green door at Keizersgracht 384.
If they stopped to step inside, however, they would discover – as I did – all the delights of The Dylan Amsterdam, a discreet boutique hotel in the heart of the city’s historic district.
The hotel is much bigger than you would expect from its traditional canal house exterior. Centred around a serene garden, The Dylan offers Michelin-star dining, stylish five-star accommodation, and outstanding service. With only 40 bedrooms, staying here is an intimate experience that you won’t find elsewhere.
The Dylan is also a place of history.
Dating back to 1613, the building was originally a theatre which saw plays by Shakespeare and Molière, an orchestra conducted by Vivaldi, and visitors such as the Prince of Orange and the Russian Tsar.
The stone theatre burnt down in 1772 – only the beautiful arched entryway remains – and was rebuilt before being bought by a Roman Catholic Church charity, the Old and Poor People’s Office, which provided food to the city’s poor.
These past lives can still be spotted throughout the building. The steep, almost ladder-like staircases which are characteristic of traditional Dutch canal homes add a maze-like feel to certain eaves of the building. The bakery ovens that used to churn out food for poor residents of Amsterdam are still on show in Restaurant Vinkeles, while the original brick floor can be seen in Brasserie OCCO.
Off one of the many staircases sits the Regent’s Room, where the Regents of the Catholic Church used to meet and keep an eye on the comings and goings in the courtyard below – now it’s used as an exclusive events space.
For me, this all only added to The Dylan’s charm, knowing that there’s more than meets the eye to this hotel.
Today, the Dylan’s intriguing past is paired with modern luxury.
There’s a clean and classic style throughout the hotel; the white marble lobby and reception are accented with monochrome artwork, and pots of white orchids can be found in corridors and bedrooms alike.
A lot of the edgy aspects here come from the fact that The Dylan works closely with respected Dutch designers and artists, staying in the 21st century while nodding to its rich 400-year old heritage.
This is especially evident in the 40 bedrooms and suites.
Each and every one is unique, offering guests a truly one-of-a-kind experience. I arrived with a sense of excitement: which Dylan would I be staying in for the night?
Behind every door is something different. The Loxura rooms feature a mix of vivid velvet chairs (I was especially taken with the bright pink couch), fossilised wood side tables, and a signature drinks cabinet designed exclusively for The Dylan. Kimono rooms are kitted with black four-poster beds and authentic Chinese ornaments, while the Klassbol style has a more flamboyant colour scheme of greys and raspberry reds.
Turn a lock elsewhere in the building and you’re met with a set of steep whitewashed stairs, leading to a two-story Loft suite, all white decor and original wood beams. It’s more like a chic city apartment than a hotel room, but of course complete with all the benefits that staying somewhere like The Dylan affords.
Finally, there’s my room: a junior suite decked out in The Dylan’s latest style, ‘Serendipity.’
Redesigned earlier this year in partnership with Dutch interior designer Remy Meijers, the Serendipity collection of rooms promises guests a ‘sense of tranquillity’, a haven and home-from-home to be found in this, one of the city’s most unique canal-side buildings.
The classic, muted colours certainly offer a sense of calm. The term ‘serendipity’ relates to unexpected good fortune, and it’s an accurate description of my feelings at relaxing in this large, luxurious suite, complete with glorious views over the Emperor’s Canal: here I was in the historic heart of Amsterdam, indulging in the latest hotel luxuries – unexpected good fortune indeed.
At the end of a long day of sightseeing and cycling in Amsterdam, it was great to be able to retreat into a spacious suite all by myself, and truly relax. When I was finally able to tear myself away from the beautiful canal views, I made myself comfortable on the couch in the seating area, got sucked into the ‘smart’ Samsung TV, and leafed through the magazines that were layered on the table.
The desk takes up half of the back wall, and looks sleek and sophisticated in dark wood with more monochrome art; perfect for business travellers (or travel writers) looking to fit in some work between all the downtime. Clearly the team here know the way to a writer’s heart, as a gorgeous welcome gift – a Dylan pen by Balmain – was waiting wrapped up for me on arrival.
Of course, no night in a luxury hotel is complete without a soak in the bathtub. The bathroom is all white marble, with another orchid adding to the aura of serenity. After a good soak or a rainfall shower, you can wrap yourself up in a plush white bathrobe and slip on some slippers for a cosy evening in (which I did, naturally).
What adds that extra edge to The Dylan, however, is the personal service.
In a small hotel like this, everyone remembers you. From the concierges who helpfully answered my many questions on getting around Amsterdam, and the reception staff who always greeted me with a smile and hello as I passed; to the waiters and waitresses who filled me in on the food, and Venke who gave me an interesting and insightful tour of the hotel, everyone was incredibly friendly. At The Dylan, you really are made to feel at home.
At the tail end of my evening, as the queen size bed was calling me, a chilled bottle of water was brought to the white door of my suite, along with delightful little heart-shaped candy snacks, printed with the words ‘I love The Dylan Amsterdam.’
I couldn’t have put it better myself.
Have you ever stayed in a hotel with an intriguing history, like The Dylan, or would you like to? Let me know in the comments – I’d love to hear from you!
Many thanks to the team at The Dylan for hosting me while in Amsterdam. As always all opinions – and love of secret historic stories! – are entirely my own.