Behind the closed doors of the W Hotel in central Amsterdam, mischief and magic is bubbling, as the premises launches the Bank building
I’m currently sitting in the Xtreme Wow suite in the Exchange – one of two buildings that make up the W Amsterdam hotel. Overlooking the Royal Palace, the 112 sq metre room’s central feature is its large round bed. But before I can even begin to relax, I am being escorted to the AWAY spa by two bellboys clad in forest-green leather uniforms.
I haven’t been badly behaved – this is the start of the W Amsterdam immersive tour, and it sets the tone for the hotel’s eccentricity levels. Feeling like I’ve entered the set of the latest whimsy creation by Wes Anderson, we enter the barely-lit spa in the Bank building (which opened in October 2016) through vault-style doors. Themed in black and gold (the latter reflecting the buildings former high value use), there are seven treatment rooms, a sauna, steam room and a plunge pool, all, at this time, scattered with models debuting ensembles from the hotel’s X BANK shop – a concept store presenting the best in Dutch fashion, art and design.
One strong characteristic of W Amsterdam is its ability to incorporate its surroundings and pay homage to its context. The Exchange building, for example, was the first part of the hotel to open on the site of a 1920s telephone exchange building. Throughout the building, if you look upward, you’ll notice that five kilometres of copper pipes pay tribute to the telephone wires and electricity lines that exchanged information on a daily basis. The Bank building’s reception has a back drop of original safety deposit boxes and the minibar doors are reminiscent of a vault.
This design detail extends to the W Lounge, which acts as a bar and an unconventional reception for the hotel – unusual as it’s on the top floor of the hotel, with 360-degree views over the city. There’s also a heated rooftop pool here so you can go for a dip in the depths of winter, if you so wish.
The interior of the five-star hotel is a collaborative effort by Amsterdam-based practice Baranowitz + Kronenberg Architecture and a platoon of local designers. Both sides of the hotel are draped in mellow grey tones with bursts of colour bringing the spaces to life. One of the grander rooms in the hotel is given over to The Duchess restaurant, which is inspired by the light and refined flavours from southern France and Italy (also known as Nouveau-Niçoise Cuisine), in the main hall of the former bank. Here, you feast on dishes like hand-crafted pasta with braised short ribs, baked scallop with mushroom, and a ‘chocolate explosion’, all while surrounded by marble, gold and echoing high ceilings.
On the top floor of the Exchange building, adjacent to the W Lounge, is the modern day steakhouse Mr Porter; I recommend starting with the yellow tail spicy ceviche followed by the ribeye on the bone served with corn polenta and crunchy onion loaf.
W Amsterdam is a hotel of two halves; one of heritage and one of eccentricity, which mirrors the city itself quite aptly.