Amsterdam’s places to stay have an enviable talent to re-invent themselves. One of the fascinating city’s new luxury hotels, Kimpton DeWitt, is a complete update of the past. There was a private home here in the mid-17th century – playwright Pieter Corneliszoon Hooft, 1581-1647 was born here. Now that old house, wrapped around by a new building, is partly The House specialty suite, and, undoubtedly even more profitable, the House Bar. Every evening from 5 p.m., go into this inner sanctum for such Dutch beers as Oedipus by Gaia IPA, and Brasserie de Marsinne by Bax Bier Kon and cocktails that may include a Harris Sea Kelp gin. This is just one example, says the gal, of how the luxury Kimpton DeWitt, which opened its doors May 17, displays not only the best of today but also the past.
The 274-room hotel quickly got rave reviews on Tripadvisor, especially from Americans who already know the Kimpton brand. It is so close to the rail station, they enthuse. They love the look – interiors are by Michael Boyd. They love bedrooms’ top-of-the-range Frette bathrobes – they are soft kelp grey, with white lining. They are over the moon about the fact that the espresso machines’ cups are traditional Dutch porcelain, as are the spoons. Bedrooms are certainly what many think of as Dutch, with masses of blue, contrasting with white walls. Day cushions are blue floral, bathrooms have geometric blue tiles (toiletries are generous-size Marie-Stella-Maris, a brand which also runs the spa, and there is a display vitrine as you enter the hotel, next to its working flower shop).
All rooms, also, have bluetooth gear standing on desks. Yes, this is a really generous hotel, shown to the ultimate in the Penthouse specialty suite. This is just under 500 sq ft but seems so much larger, partly because you enter up 14 wood stairs, go past the eight-seat dining table and emerge to a glorious terrace, which adds 300 sq ft to the whole: this, with 360° views of Amsterdam’s rooftops and church spires, is the ideal place for private parties, intimate wedding receptions, or merely romantic dinners for two. And that, naturally, brings me on to food. One of the brilliant touches here is the hotel’s partnership with Brooklyn chef Sam DeMarco, always known as Sammy D. As he told me, he was doing American comfort food with style a decade ago and now that has become commonplace it was time for a complete life change, to challenge himself. So, with wife and three kids under 11 in tow, he moved across the Atlantic to Amsterdam, to offer comfort food and superb service here at the Kimpton DeWitt.
Wyvers Bar.Restaurant is really fun, and not only because of Sammy, who may personally be adding wood to the rotating grill as you pass by (“I am so PLEASED you have come” he still manages to say). One of his many superb creations is the shared appetiser, a glass jar of whipped ricotta topped with sexy salt, his term, and olive oil, served on a platter with different breads, all toasted. Yes, he does Dutch moules with Ywhit beer, as well as such Sam-wiches (sic) as a Cuban, with roast pork and ham. As is the norm in hot-spot eating in Amsterdam these days, by the way, you sit at plain wood tables, china is plain white or a hotchpotch collection of pink, or blue, floral, and cutlery is utilitarian, no label. What is unusual is this luxury’s hotel’s to-go kiosk, street entrance only on Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal, a main way to the rail station: called Miss Luisa’s, it specialises in coffees, and beignets – see Sammy sugar-dusting beignets, above. Having sampled Sammy’s food, and relaxed in the luxury hotel’s inner garden, now I look forward to returning to stay, which of course will include at least a few minutes at the nightly complimentary wine-tasting, from 5 p.m, a feature of the Kimpton brand from the very start. NOW SEE A VIDEO OF THE PENTHOUSE SUITE, BELOW.