Luxury Hotels

AMSTERDAM -1

Sofitel Legend The Grand is the Amsterdam hotel that offers history a-plenty – among many touchpoints, in 1966, HM Queen Beatrix, who was to rule 1980-2013, was married here, to German diplomat Claus von Amsberg. But let’s go even further back, to the real past.

In the early 15 th century the spread-out three-floor brick building that has been Sofitel since 1992 was two adjacent convents. In 1578 convents were outlawed and here were replaced by a lodging house, eventually known as Princenhof, which was to become a city admin centre.

Napoleon’s brother Louis lived here when he was installed as King of Holland in 1806, but he gave it back to the city two years later and until 1992 it remained City Hall with only WWII interruptions. In 1949 Amsterdam City Council ‘celebrated’ by commissioning artwork, Brutalist as was the post-War wont. The wall mural by prolific local artist Karel Appel, 1921-2006, stands out for its Brutalist command.

Because of its somewhat convoluted past, the 177-room hotel has somewhat confusing lay-out; over a 24-hour stay Girlahead never did manage to find her way directly from reception to the Winston Churchill Suite, or vice versa. Even when arriving at the suite mental dexterity was required. Which way to the bathroom (off the bedroom), or the toilet (off the hall) or the closet, spacious enough to hold dress gear of the entire Churchill wartime Cabinet?

The suite is most memorable for a wall-hung larger-then-life of Churchill’s head and, everywhere it seemed, absolutely gorgeous tulip displays. Each arrangement is a ballet of frozen movement. One type of bloom might bow down towards the ground, this chorus encircling another tulip variety standing bolt upright. There are blooms with satin-smooth petals, others with petal edges crimped, as if with pinking sheers. And oh the colours!

Softel Legend The Grand commissioned a new pink varietal as a significant birthday present for team member Kees Hogetoorn. Girlahead was to hear inspirational stories of visiting tulip fields, dining among the blooms, getting engaged there and then. But all this has to be sandwiched into a month, mid-April to mid-May. Part of tulips’ delight, indeed, is possibly because the time-frame is so short.