Amsterdam is a city of many firsts – the stock market, the compact disk, the Olympic Flame – all Dutch inventions. However, tucked behind wrought iron unassuming gates on one of the prettiest of the myriad of canals that make up the old town district of the city, is another – one of the world’s first boutique hotels.
Opened in 1999, The Dylan in Amsterdam was a pioneer of a new breed of small, understated, luxury without formality breed of hotels. It offered infinitely personal service, exquisite attention to detail, and most importantly, it oozed charm and 21st century stripped back sophistication. What separates The Dylan from the rest of these pioneering hotels however (just remember how great Babington House was in the 00’s), is that it has kept ahead with the times, and where others have flagged whilst trying to remain ‘hip’ The Dylan simply is what it is, and feels as invigorated as ever.
Situated in a perfect location next to the shopping district of Nine Streets and just far enough from Red Light District, The ultra-stylish Dylan respectfully resides in a grand merchant’s hall from 1613 that is one of the Old Town’s few properties to have its own entrance set back from the street. It has 40 individually designed rooms and suites, each in tranquil sets of neutrals that compliment the historic colonial inspired setting and interiors. Each suite has lush sofas, coffee machines, fresh flowers, huge walk in showers and great views of the beautiful central courtyard. The aged oak beams have been lovingly restored in a room where contemporary chic meets old-world Amsterdam.
The lounge contains large quantities of dark wood, open fires and copper metal work – it feels like the apartment of someone with great Dutch refined taste. The bar offers the perfect informal setting for drinks before, and after dinner where you can slump back with a cocktail. The restaurant Vinkeles offers Michelin starred pan-European dining which whilst not as ‘edgy’ as other offerings to be found in Amsterdam, it does offer contemporary comfort cuisine to a five star standard. The courtyard however is a real highlight of the hotel; tables and sofas line the edges of the old theatre part of the hotel (Vivaldi once conducted an orchestra here), where you can enjoy a Negroni or Martini whilst soaking up some sun in one of the few such places in a city where outdoor square footage is at a prime.
The service in the hotel is always friendly, with that unique Dutch cosiness that only they know how to do so well. The hotel’s size means each member of staff can know every guest and they are completely accessible when required, but happy to leave you to your own devices should you wish. The hotel also has their own fleet of city-council approved black bicycles which you can borrow to explore Amsterdam in the most appropriate way.
The Dylan has to be one of the most calming hotels in the world. It offers a ‘less is more’ approach to five star hotels which is both typically Dutch but also admirably refreshing. You won’t find any gold or velvet or precociousness, but just a hotel and team dedicated to making sure you are enjoying yourself in a laissez-faire boutique style. The mini gym and spa, along with the perfectly formed bar/lounge/terrace/restaurant area, and of course the rooms, all combine effortless cool with comfort making it hard to remember why you booked your trip to the city outside of the walls of the hotel in the first place.
By Harry Seymour
The Dylan Amsterdam, Keizersgracht 384, 1016 GB Amsterdam, The Netherlands. From £287 per night.