Hotel of the week: Hotel Okura, Amsterdam in the Netherlands
Amsterdam is one of those small cities that has what I like to call a quiet bustle, an air of friendly efficiency which gives its visitors the impression that nothing is too much trouble and life is to be enjoyed in a relaxed and easy atmosphere.
The Japanese owned 5 star Hotel Okura Amsterdam has harnessed these qualities and uses them to give guests a luxury European experience with an Asian twist.
With 5 restaurants holding 4 Michelin stars between them, it is a foodie heaven, somewhere to really treat yourself to some of the best cuisine in the city.
The Okura also boasts excellent spa and health facilities including an indoor pool, extensive events spaces and a host of stylish rooms and suites, including the magnificent 2 floor Imperial Suite.
Situated just outside the city centre in the residential area of De Pijp, the 23 storey hotel is located on the banks of the Amstel canal and due to its height has some of the best views in Amsterdam, offering panoramic vistas over the city.
The Okura is perfectly placed for business or pleasure, Schiphol airport and Centraal station are only a 20 minute drive away and all the main attractions are within easy reach.
Set against a backdrop of 17th century gabled houses and picturesque flower lined canals, Amsterdam is a treasure trove of art galleries, museums, antique shops, pavement cafes and leafy parks.
There are over 75 museums to discover and explore ( including ones dedicated to cats and handbags! ) but the must sees have to be the Anne Frank House, The Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum.
Getting around could not be easier, with an on site car park, private boat jetty, easily available bicycle hire and a tram stop nearby, you can be in the city within minutes yet still have that feeling of ” going home ” at the end of the day.
From the moment you enter the large lobby with its marble floors, acres of natural wood and minimalist decor, the sleek and calm atmosphere sets the tone for your stay.
The reception team pride themselves on excellent service and they are happy to assist with anything you may require, from museum tickets to organising bike hire or giving tips on local attractions.
The art deco inspired lobby bar is open from 5.30 to 9pm making it the perfect spot for pre meal drinks, or with 60 cocktails to choose from and a selection of tasty bar bites you could use it as a starter for a tour of the hotspots of the citys nightlife!
Or pop into the Twenty Third bar ( guess what floor it is on ) to check out their extensive drinks menu alongside some panoramic views and bar bites from the adjoining Ciel Bleu.
This 2 Michelin starred restaurant is run by Onno Kokmeijer and Arjan Speelman who have worked at the hotel together for over ten years. In that time they have brought the menu from classic French cuisine to a more international flavour.
Using seasonal products and sourcing local produce, they aim to exceed expectations and present an exciting selection of dishes and menus including the 7 course Caviar Experience.
The Chefs table can be booked for groups of 4 – 10 and seated at a table adjacent to the kitchen guests have a unique insight into the preparation and presentation of their dishes, an intimate and friendly experience perfect for foodies!
The whole restaurant has a welcoming and relaxed vibe, and the extensive city views make a great backdrop to enjoying excellent food so it is no surprise that any reservations will need to made well in advance.
Opening times for Ciel Bleu are 6.30 – 10pm Monday to Saturday and the dress code is smart casual.
For lovers of authentic Japanese food, there are two excellent restaurants, each with a Michelin star and both led by Executive Chef and Manager Masanori Tomikawa.
Yamazoto has a classic Japanese atmosphere with waitresses in traditional kimonos delivering unobtrusive and elegant service. They are happy to explain the dishes to you if you are not familiar with some of the ingredients used.
Serving Kaiseki cuisine – a set menu of seasonal dishes prepared artfully and simply – the restaurant also provides an a la carte menu, a Shokado bento box and an extensive sushi menu.
Yamazato is open from 6- 9.30pm daily and is also open for lunch on Saturdays and Sundays from noon until 2pm. Dress code is smart casual.
For a more informal experience, pop into Sazanka which showcases the Teppanyaki style of Japanese cuisine. It translates as ” to grill on a hot plate ” and guests take their places at large tables where chefs prepare the food on hot iron griddles.
An extensive and creative menu includes a la carte, set and tasting menus, all using top quality ingredients prepared in a friendly and social setting, accompanied by a large choice of wines and sake.
The restaurant is open every day from 6.30 – 10pm and the dress code is smart casual.
Inspired by Ciel Bleu, the ground floor restaurant Serre has a relaxed neighbourhood feel to it, and with its terrace overlooking the canal it is a popular spot for guests and locals alike.
Awarded a Bib Gourmand by Michelin, ( given to restaurants providing good food at a good price ), Serre serves classic cuisine with a twist and offers a 3 course lunch or dinner menu or a la carte options.
Opening times are 10am – 10pm daily, perfect for a light lunch, afternoon snack or al fresco dinner.
Le Camelia is the breakfast restaurant and serves an outstanding selection of pastries and breads, a cold buffet and delicious hot dishes cooked to order.
There is also the option to try something a little different, the Japanese breakfast is part of the buffet and includes rice, dashi soup, pickles, salmon, fish and Japanese green tea.
Opening times are Monday to Friday 6.30 – 10.30am and Saturday and Sunday 6.30 – 11.30am.
The culinary centre Taste of Okura runs regular cooking workshops but be aware that if you do not understand Dutch then only part of the explanation will be given in English!
There is also a wine room where wine and sake tastings can be organised for up to 18 guests, and this space is also available for group cocktails.
With over 300 stylish rooms and suites ranging from the Superior and Executive rooms and suites – make sure you get one with a city view – up to the larger individually designed suites there is something for all tastes and budgets.
All rooms and suites have large beds, a pillow menu, safe, air conditioning, a Nespresso machine, free wifi, separate bath and shower, luxury toiletries, and bathrobes and slippers.
Other bonuses include 24 hour room service, and a dry cleaning and laundry service, whilst pets can be accommodated by request.
Executive rooms and above have a control panel for curtains, mood lighting, temperature, night lights and alarm clock and access to the Executive Lounge on the 22nd floor serving free drinks and snacks.
Of the larger suites, I particularly like the Executive Corner Suite with its double aspect city views from the large windows, separate living room, walk in rainforest shower and TV in the bathroom.
The ultimate accommodation has to be the Imperial Suite which is set over two floors and is the largest hotel suite in the Benelux. Total privacy is guaranteed with entrance via an intercom system with cameras.
On the upper floor there are two huge en suite master bedrooms with walk in wardrobes and the opportunity to link a further two bedrooms on the lower floor.
Two separate sitting rooms, a dining/meeting room that seats 14 and a cinema with an 84 inch screen make the Imperial ideal for business meetings or celebratory get togethers.
Additional services are available on request including a butler, 24/7 chef, personal shopping and limousine service.
Whether you prefer blissful relaxation or something a little more invigorating, the friendly Nagomi spa and health team can provide it for you.
The Spa has an extensive range of treatments including facials, manicures, pedicures, massages ( including Shiatsu and Bamboo ) and full body treatments using Sothys products.
Nagomi translates as ” calm down “, and with a private relaxation room, tea lounge and indoor Japanese stone garden this is very easy to achieve!
The indoor swimming pool is a must visit, and other facilities include a jacuzzi, ladies and mixed saunas, Turkish steam room, solarium and fully equipped gym with a kinesis wall.
The team also run a complimentary Jetlag Programme for long haul guests, where they can advise on the best times to eat, sleep and exercise.
For corporate or social events, the hotel is well prepared with a total of 19 flexible spaces ,including the Grand Ballroom, which can be divided or combined to meet your needs.
In addition, Ciel Bleu, Yamazoto and Sazanka all have private dining facilities and Le Camelia and Serre can be hired for private functions.
From small business meetings to gala dinners and weddings, the dedicated and creative events team are on hand to help you plan the details and ensure your day goes smoothly.
For larger events the culinary expertise of the hotels Michelin starred restaurants is impressively reflected in the banquets department, with chefs able to prepare 600 meals in 15 minutes at a seated dinner!
In a nutshell
This well located 5 star hotel really pulls out the stops with it’s culinary excellence, there is a real passion to serve the very best cuisine on offer.
With the friendly and welcoming staff, luxurious and spacious rooms, panoramic views and easy access to the city, Hotel Okura is the perfect base for your visit to Amsterdam.
For more information and prices please visit: okura.nl/
Address: Ferdinand Bolstraat 333, 1072 LH Amsterdam, Netherlands
Phone: +31 20 678 7111