Dripping with cultural heritage and ethos, Andaz Amsterdam Prinsengracht is not what you would normally expect from a luxurious hotel situated in this part of the world. But an all pervasive divine beauty that is just waiting to enamour, engulf, and invigorate you is a sure guarantee!
Sitting prettily on the site of the former Public Library between two major canals, the Prinsengracht and the Keizersgracht, Andaz Amsterdam Prinsengracht reflects the creative brilliance and distinct craftsmanship of renowned local designer, Marcel Wanders. The hotel has 122 rooms, and is not a far walk from Leideseplein, Amsterdam’s cultural hub – filled with art galleries, specialty shops, fashion boutiques, charming restaurants and coffee-shops.
So with so much happening outside, how can one remain indoors? Well, the answer lies in the wonders created by Wanders. Wanders’ riotous aesthetic has given the hotel an eclectic definition; and yet the ingenious joie de vivre of the design gives, even the public spaces, a sense of surreal cohesion.
Breathtaking, opulent and yet understated in its grandiose, the Andaz Amsterdam is a lesson in classical style with modern and cultural overtones, mirrored evocatively through Wanders’ baroque-style reatment.
Occupying a 35 year-old library building in the centre of the city, Wanders’ design stands out as well as blends in; which is why you will find that his design incorporates elements of the city’s cultural heritage as well as the rich imagery from history books.
The hotel’s overall design concept also features a singularly unique video art collection that reflects a diversion from the concept of regular art. Nearly 40 unique works of various upcoming and established local and international video artists, like Erwin Olaf, Mark Titchner and many others make Andaz Amsterdam Prinsengracht the world’s largest video art collector.
The selections from video art collection are showcased in different areas of the hotel, and a special video channel is available in the rooms; the largest display screen for the presentation of the collection though is in the Lounge – comprising of nine 60-inch televisions.
Blue and white porcelain tiles that reflect early Dutch Delft pottery, line the impressive atrium beyond the hotel’s entrance.
The Andaz hotel’s foyer has Wanders’ signature over-sized Bell shaped lamps, Tulip chairs and Deft Blue carpets woven in the patterns of the Dutch East India Company’s world maps.
Perhaps the most eye-catching and stunning piece in the hotel, which immediately sets the tone, is an installation modelled on a constellation of stars and planets, hanging beautifully in the lobby. Positioned below a skylight, the lighting and objects are poised to resemble old-fashioned astronomy and look down over Dutch objets d’art and knick-knacks that fill up the shelves of bookcases in the lobby.
The guest rooms feature custom-made wallpaper and wall art. Every room has an abstract art installation, just above the bed based on the hotel’s ethos of ‘connected polarities’. (A connected polarity basically involves a merger of two random disconnected items).
In this case fish heads and porcelain spoon handles were stitched together to create new, surprising wholes, in the way of wall art. The Amsterdam city logo is xxx, which looks like three embroidery stitches, this probably provided the idea that you can blend and connect non-related elements. Amsterdam is a creative and tolerant city, a city that is open-minded enough to embrace new ideas without the emotional baggage of preconceived ideas – it has been a constant struggle to remain this way. Thus, by embracing two opposites or two objects that have no bearing with each other Wanders tries to bring out the resilient and adaptive nature of the city of Amsterdam.
Wanders’ signature “One Minute Delft Blue” style is reflected in the hand-painted washbasins, the oversized book-shaped worktable, and the almost mural-like wallpapers that are visible along the walls of the room and the bathroom.
Each room also has an ergonomically designed, comfortable reading chair. Also seen in the lobby of the hotel, these chairs as Wanders puts it – “have a real sense of occasion.” Every design element in the hotel embodies the quintessential aesthetic of Wanders. One can even see shades of Dali in his design, especially in the bright yellow upholstery of the preposterously high-back chair.
Designed on the premise that the hotel should echo the rhythmic heartbeat of Amsterdam, the essence of the city is entrenched in the hotel’s adventurous designs. Integrated into the décor of the hotel, the history of the city is given glorious due; an eclectic blend of different styles in furniture, artefacts and objects that reference the Dutch Golden Age, Delft ceramics…the unforgettable tulips and of course the national colour orange!
Text Priyanka S. Menon
Photographs Courtesy Marcel Wanders & Andaz Amsterdam Prinsengracht