The Heineken brewery turned its long-time guest house, built in 1896 on the site of Amsterdam’s city walls, into a luxury hotel, sensibly not calling it anything to do with beer. The seven-floor Hotel de L’Europe, with 111 rooms and suites, opened in 2012, and Tom Krooswijk has made it his personal professional fief ever since. Yes, history is important, as shown by the image above, one of several old photos in its more-casual restaurant, Brasserie Hoofstad. But it is also always doing something new. At lunch the other day the gal was brought a really tasty amuse, Romesco, a hommus relative from Spain, made of pulverised almonds.
This is a brasserie that is soaring up the ladder of taste. Lunch offers a design-your-own menu, any three courses for €37, but we only managed amuse-plus-two. My gravadlax starter, with beetroot and potato wafers and a modicum of cress, was really appetising. Since it was minus-two C outside, with wind-chill factor that made it feel about minus-seven, it was essential to have hot main courses and we both chose Holsteiner seven-week dry-aged charcoal grills, which came in cast-iron pans, with vegetables on the side. Tonight is the start, by the way, of Virtuoso’s annual overseas Symposium, here in the Netherlands this year.
I hear how the venture has been 18 months in the planning. Seven river boat companies are involved, AmaWaterwaters, Avalon Waterways, Crystal, Tauck, U by Uniworld, Uniworld and Viking Cruises. But before the 350-or-so delegates board for three nights on the water they spend one night here in Amsterdam, on dry land. Hotel de L’Europe, as one of the host hotels, has 70 rooms committed – on a Saturday night, right at the beginning of an extended Easter-spring period. Of course every hotelier worth any professional salt offers VIP treatment to all guests, and travel advisors are certainly top-tier VIPs.
Those lucky enough to be staying at Hotel de L’Europe for that night found bunches of early-early tulips in their rooms, and pieces of distinctive blue and white Delft china to take home. A 24/7 hospitality suite offered not only day and night sustenance but a concierge who could help with special requests. In fact every one of the 157 team members seemed to be involved, and Tom Krooswijk, who had been on duty until one o’clock last night, sorry, this morning, and was apparently back at seven, had as always arranged every detail at this super-luxury hotel. He did somehow, however, find time to call by to say goodbye to his wife Annie before she drove to Paris (I first met Tom and Annie Krooswijk in Libreville, I will not say how many years ago – his professional itinerary has also included, in alphabetical order, Abidjan, Dubai, Kinshasa, Moscow, Paris, Riyadh and Vienna).