I was in town on business. My brief to review two new but contrasting hotels was met with an open mind. To some, it’s the 165 canals with a combined length of 100 kilometres, which makes this place unique. To others, it’s the fact that even in a city surrounded by water; there are more bicycles than people. To me, it’s the opportunities available for architects and designers to create one-off pieces that meet the voyeuristic social scene…
My first impression of Hilton Amsterdam Airport Schiphol was made before we had even touched down. I saw the obscure external design that wraps around the hotel from my window seat as we made our final approach into Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. At that moment, I knew this trip would reveal at least one game changer for hotel design. The strange but fascinating cube-like building casts a shadow over the old Hilton that operated before and its impressive facade creates an even more magnificent impression from a pedestrian’s perspective.
Step inside and look up, that’s my advice. In the day guests may catch the occasional plane flying over head. By night the atmosphere changes with an eye-catching display of lights reflecting off the 42-metre high-glazed roof. Designed to create a free-flowing pulse – much like the international airport connected to it – the communal area is open and spacious featuring abstract shaped furniture, which I am told was inspired from aerial views of the Dutch coastal landscape. I love that about this place, every corner of the hotel has been designed with its location embedded in thought. Like the walls, for example, some of which feature Delft-inspired details within blue and white tiles. Tables shaped like giant chess pieces and banquette backs fashioned like the much-loved local speculaas cookie raises a smile.
This hotel is as beautiful on the outside as it is on the inside. I can see the signifance of this particular opening as it completely redefines international airport hotels. No longer is it just about a bed for the evening. It is about connecting, relaxing and one-off experiences. For me, Hilton Amsterdam Airport Schiphol does all that and more.
A few kilometres down the road, in the centre of town, stands W Amsterdam within two shells, The Exchange Building and the KAS Bank. Again, it challenges conventional hotel concepts but it goes further. For me, this hotel is an animal – a much loved one I must add– disobedient in its design, brave steps have been taken to create spaces that are fun and whimsical. Its playful and futuristic in all the right places and reflects its previous life – hence the names. Copper pipes, for example, cleverly forms more than just artistic décor to the ceilings. In excess of five kilometres of it has been carefully weaved throughout the building and pays tribute to the telephone wires and electricity lines that exchanged information on a daily basis when the building was home to Telephone Exchange. The eye-catching copper pipelines divert attention as they descend to form a shelf in the racy rooftop bar, plunge down to separate private booths and in the same area, descend to form part of a sofa. The three-dimensional concept, again, challenges conventional hotel interiors, creating an inclusive vibe throughout, which encourages guests to connect, socialise and relax.
Reflecting the traditional lobby of the Exchange building with a modern twist, W Lounge on the sixth floor boasts 360-degree views of Amsterdam City Centre with vibrant colour-filled rugs welcoming guests into the hotel. Quirky furniture sits around a large, contemporary glowing fire. Music plays supremacy in this part of the hotel. The space is a lively hotspot for international DJs, which is handpicked by W Amsterdam’s Music Curator Kristina Dolgova. Continuing the vibes outside, large glass doors open up to reveal a long and narrow pool.
Like the town that surrounds it, W Amsterdam is alive and edgy. With its well-placed disobedient attitude, the hotel is a statement piece that has become the ultimate hotspot in a city that laughs in the face of convention.