Conservatorium: Inside the best hotel in Amsterdam

The Conservatorium hotel is based on the concept ‘old meets new.’

This theme can be seen in every corner of the hotel, not only in the spectacular renovation executed by Italian architect designer Piero Lissoni, but also in the artwork displayed on the walls, the entertainment provided by the hotel and its stylish interior. The hotel is a nod to the past with a contemporary finish.

In order to fully appreciate the Conservatorium, which opened its doors in 2011, it is important to step back in time to 1899. Back then, the neo-gothic building Designed by D.E.C. Knuttel acted as a functioning bank for the people of Amsterdam with Art Nouveaux tile work and formidable pillars and impressive staircases leading to vaults. Later the bank was sensitively reworked to house the Sweelinck Conservatory of Music. While it maintained the original structure of the bank, rooms were reworked to include insulation for soundproof classrooms which sadly resulted in a lot of the original interior being covered. Older members of the public say they still associate the building with the music they heard when passing the Conservatory.

These relics from the past are integral to the make-up of the Conservatorium that we can see today. Lissoni’s design has delicately paired back the interior of the 19th century building to uncover the original flooring and tiles from its bank days. This element is seen at its best in the shopping quarter of the hotel. Guests are able to browse items from luxury retailers surrounded by the grandiose décor from the past. One mural which depicts bees saving honey was included in the bank’s décor to encourage its customers to save money. Now, ironically, the same mural is seen in the shopping corner where guests will be doing the exact opposite.

The building’s former life as a Conservatory is prominent throughout the hotel. An installation of life-size violin replicas hang from the ceiling welcoming guests from the foyer to the shopping quarter. Alongside this, the hotel invites students of the Conservatory to perform for guests at the hotel once a month.

Although history is an important part of the Conservatorium, this is not a hotel stuck in the past. Modern fittings such as electronic sliding doors and curtains that close at the push of the button confirm that the Conservatorium has been built with its luxury clientele in mind. A huge glass extension has been added to the 19th-century building to create a high ceilinged dining area with 360-degree views of the outside world and flooding the hotel lobby and restaurant with natural light.

In terms of guest rooms, the Conservatorium offers 129 rooms including 46 suites, divided into twelve categories spread across eight floors. Inside each room, Lissoni has ensured a contemporary design using a muted colour palette with splashes of colour like a burgundy desk or a blue side table used to accent the rooms. Artwork by Dutch photographer Kevin Best, depicting still lifes of fruit, further reinforces the 'old meets new' vibe of the hotel. Just under half the rooms have a duplex layout with large windows and oversized beams creating a traditional feel. Rooms are decked out with flat screen TVs, supersized bathroom towels and most importantly a fully stocked mini bar. Each room provides guests with complimentary slippers and a bathrobe – the true mark of a luxury hotel.

The hotel is fully equipped for guests who want to stay and play or for locals looking for a bite to eat or something to drink. Dutch Executive Chef Schilo van Coevorden oversees the menu of each restaurant at Conservatorium. It is clear that this is a man who knows good food, guests can choose from two restaurants and a modern bar. The Brasserie is located in the spacious glass atrium and offers fresh local ingredients and delicious wine. If Asian cuisine is your bag, head to Taiko restaurant. Situated in the restored vaults of the bank, the restaurant offers an extensive menu of food that focuses on flavour, aroma and texture. Tunes Bar is the perfect place to grab a drink before or after your meal. Specialising in gin, you will be hard pushed to find a better selection of the spirit anywhere else.

Finally, the Akasha Holistic Wellbeing Centre located on the lower level of the hotel offers some of the best spa treatments in Amsterdam and is home to the largest pool in the city.  Integrating innovative Western and Eastern practices with natural healing techniques, the centre offers a range of treatments, classes and services including a yoga studio and a state of the art gym.

Ultimately, the Conservatorium has successfully blended the past with the future using innovative design. The contemporary interiors alongside delicious food and dedicated staff have successfully created an unrivalled experience making it easy to see why many describe the  Conservatorium as the best hotel in Amsterdam.

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