Hotel Review: Hotel Okura, Amsterdam in The Netherlands
Amsterdam, the city of bicycles, canals, museums, boats and so much more. Despite what captures many people’s attention when you mention an upcoming visit to the city, it’s not all about the red light district and marijuana – there is so much to this beautiful place that I found myself planning my next trip halfway through this one!
For a lover of luxurious places, fine dining and the more peaceful way of life, Hotel Okura, situated a little away from the hustle and bustle of the city centre, was the perfect place to come back to after risking life and limb with one of the hundreds of thousands of cyclists tearing through the city.
The hotel is a little out of the way of the centre but not far from the museum square in the De Pijp area. I walked to the centre, veering off through markets with a deliciously sweet stroopwafel in hand and gazing at the flowers before breaking for a coffee in one of the many stops along the way.
With a large amount of museums to peruse, sights to see and attractions to visit it is hard to choose how to fill your time wisely – I discovered a lot on foot but there is a tram stop by the hotel if you are short on time. A canal boat tour is a must, I loved the Van Gogh Museum, wished I had time for the Rijksmuseum and next time the handbag museum, Anne Frank’s House (you have to book well in advance for this) and the Heineken experience will be on my to do list!
Back to the hotel and the sophisticated lobby itself offers a grand welcome and gives you a hint of what to expect throughout the 5 star hotel with it’s clean, yet warm and elegant décor. The most noticeable things about the modern hotel are its 23 floors in a city otherwise fairly unmarked by such tall buildings and the fact that it holds 4 Michelin stars over 3 of its restaurants.
Part of the Japanese chain, Okura Hotels and Resorts, the hotel holds some exceptional views of the city, especially from Twenty Third, the sumptuous black and silver cocktail and Champagne bar (really worth a visit even if you are not a guest) and the 2 Michelin awarded restaurant, Ciel Bleu, which also sits on the 23rd floor.
There are 300 rooms and suites to reside in including The Imperial Suite, a 5,220 sq ft space over two floors which includes a cinema, two master bedrooms, guest bathrooms, walk in closets, a 14 person dining/seating area and lounges. The staff throughout have a friendly attitude and are helpful at every opportunity, offering suggestions of places to visit during your stay.
I stayed in an executive suite, which was spacious and had that previously mentioned clean, bright and simple décor. The bed was, hands down, the largest I have slept in and was delightfully comfortable. Possibly my favourite thing about the room was the touch display next to the bed and doors, which controlled the lights (night light, evening scene and bedside light functions), opening and closing the curtains (which also opened up when we entered) and the do not disturb function – very swish and so convenient!
The room and desk area were fairly plainly decorated with off-white coloured walls and curtains and a bit of colour in the blue sofa and armchair, cushions and bedspread. Otherwise the built in cupboards and wardrobes were dark wood and it surprised me that there was no artwork on the walls to offer a more homely feel.
Nonetheless the suite offered many relaxing hours after exploring Amsterdam in the summer heat and the bathroom, in quite contrast to the rest of the suite, was full of character. Two dark brown framed oval mirrors sat above two sinks and a shapely dark wood panelled bath was ensconced in beige tiles. A toilet and super swish shower sat behind their own clouded doors and the Fragonard toiletries were aplenty and smelled delicious.
The room had plenty of amenities including a stocked minibar, TV, a writing desk, espresso machine, umbrella, iron and ironing board, pillow menu, robes, slippers and access to the executive lounge on the 22nd floor.
The executive lounge had plenty of seating making the most of the views and had the benefit of two desks, which held computers and printers as well as a small conference room to one side. There were food and drinks available and the evening snacks were quite delicious.
The Nagomi spa and health facilities offered a relaxing feel when I visited, with a tea lounge, Japanese stone garden, relaxation area, Turkish steam bath, solarium and Jacuzzi and indoor swimming pool.
The conference facilities really are second to none. With enough space to host 2,500 people on one floor, the options are almost endless. From the 9,709 square ft Grand Ballroom housing 1,015 people, theatre style, to the 291 square ft Sakura room to fit 16 you can be sure that there will be something to suit your requirements.
With quite the selection of high quality restaurants to choose from, the decision over where to dine can be tough. Ciel Bleu, with its two Michelin stars, offers international cuisine with exceptional city views, while the one star Yamazato serves up authentic Japanese kaiseki cuisine. Sazanka is a Teppanyaki restaurant and also holds a star, while the Bib Gourmand holder, Serre, serves up delights from all over in its relaxed brasserie and terrace.
With it being a lovely warm summer’s evening I couldn’t resist dining outside, so Serre, overlooking the canal, it was. I opted for the 3 course menu for 37 euros and really enjoyed the food and refreshing sparkling rosé that accompanied it. Inside, the restaurant is graced with a wall of wine bottles and is decorated in blues and greys with a mid wood floor and tables.
First up was some lovely chunky bread and a tasty pesto dip to nibble on before my starter of Ravioli with goats’ cheese, pointed cabbage and seaweed butter arrived. The delicious dish consisted of creamy and gently-flavoured cheese with little flaked almonds on top for crunch, the pasta was gorgeous and I could have eaten that all over again – yum!
Next up was ‘Polder’ chicken, gnocchi, morels and hazelnut – a tasty plate of food with a good sized portion of chicken, fluffy gnocchi, earthy mushrooms and sauce and a lovely scattering of nuts and spinach to create and flavoursome and textureful plate of food. To complete my meal I opted for the Serre sundae – with crispy chocolate biscuit pieces, vanilla ice cream, a light, mallowy layer, a drizzling of caramel sauce and shards of dark chocolate, this was a sweet and sumptuous end to the evening.
I have never visited a hotel where breakfast has its own restaurant, until now! Le Camelia offers the most epic breakfast selection I have seen with fruits, breads, pastries, cheese, cold meats, cooked items as a buffet (but cooked fresh right in front of you at the counter), juices, smoked fish, cereals, a little wall of fresh honeycomb with a bowl underneath to catch the runny goods, mini boxes of chocolate sprinkles, cheese twists, salad items, olives, gherkins, French toast and more!
I went for an unhealthy but delicious selection of French toast, a chunky waffle, streaky bacon, scrambled eggs, sausages, beans, potato wedges, a chocolate muffin, a slice of bread and Dutch cheese. I could have gone back again but that was enough!
Hotel Okura is one of those places that you could visit for a week and not really need to leave and you weren’t in Amsterdam it would be very tempting! It holds everything you need for a business or leisure stay and has so many more amenities than mentioned above. Highlights, for me, were the stylish spa, fantastic selection of restaurants, calming location, city views from the lounge and bar, oh and the breakfast selection!
Address: Ferdinand Bolstraat 333, 1072 LH Amsterdam, Netherlands
Phone: +31 20 678 7111