So much of Amsterdam’s history is embedded in its unique architecture and this hotel is a perfect example. The magnificent building was a convent in the 15th century, a royal pied à terre in the 16th, the HQ of the Dutch Admiralty in the 17th, and Amsterdam’s City Hall in the 19th and 20th.
It is as much a historic monument as a luxury five-star hotel and it is well worth joining the free tour that reveals the building’s nooks and crannies, especially the majesty of the Council Chamber and the incredible Wedding Chamber with its striking art nouveau wall frescoes, ornate ceiling and kaleidoscopic stained glass.
The hotel’s centuries of historic importance qualified it to be ushered into the group’s exclusive Sofitel Legend club in 2010 and it remains the only Sofitel Legend in Europe.
The honour came after an extensive two-year renovation which created the colourful blend of French elegance and Dutch design that guests experience in the interiors of all 177 rooms and 52 suites. Some of the rooms on the top floor that sport wall murals are especially fun, and the views over the rooftops are to die for.
The hotel’s restaurant, Bridges, continues the Franco-Dutch collaboration. The charming and impeccably trained waiters wear smart red trousers and blue blazers, greet you with “Bonsoir” and then explain the dishes in perfect English with a Dutch accent. Bridges specialises in seafood and local produce, meaning perfect dishes such as North Sea langoustine with quinoa, and pan-fired turbot in a beurre blanc on flageolet beans with morel mushrooms. Then, a flash of culinary brilliance – a dish comprising a soft poached egg, mackerel, truffle, Jerusalem artichoke and wafer-thin mushroom slices.
In summer, when the sky over Amsterdam is wide and duck-egg blue until about 10pm, you can step outside the hotel and take a romantic after-dinner stroll along the canal that runs past its front door.
– Try for a top-floor room for rooftop views.
– Have at least one meal at Bridges and treat yourselves to a glass of vintage champagne or a cocktail before eating.
– Take afternoon tea in summer in the charming courtyard or, in winter, snuggle up on a sofa in the small, cosy lobby library, La Bibliothèque.
– Don’t miss a session in the amazing SoSPA, with its indoor swimming pool, Jacuzzi, Hammam and sauna.
Tel +31 (0) 205 553 111, www.sofitel.com