June 23 2014

Hotel Review: InterContinental Amstel Amsterdam

Trip report index:

 

I have stayed in all kinds of accommodations – from sleeping bags in flimsy tents, to fleabag motels next to freeways, to mid-range business hotels when traveling for work, to luxury resorts with nightly room rates exceeding most mortgage payments.

When forming an opinion of an accommodation, I try to bear in mind the kind of property it is. At a St. Regis, it takes much more for me to say I had a good stay than it would at a Ramada Inn. After all, the latter costs far less (whether in cash or points).

So when I say my stay at the InterContinental Amstel Amsterdam was “okay,” it is a relative assessment. In absolute terms, the hotel is top notch.

But if someone is considering spending €500/night (more for some dates, less on others) – plus tax – for a room, I believe they’ll want an opinion on whether it’s worth the expense and not simply whether it’s nice. So let me approach this review from that perspective.

The location

Compared to the other IHG property in town (which I loved, by the way), the Amstel is not as centrally located. It is by no means totally out of the way – in fact I could walk to Museumplein (the Museum Quarter) in about 20 minutes – but certainly farther from the city center than other options.

So if you are seeking a hotel that is convenient for seeing the city on foot (which I think is the best way to see Amsterdam, by far) then this one isn’t ideal.

On the other hand if you’re looking for a more tranquil location outside the bustle of the city center but still close to it, this would be perfect.

The hotel isn’t just near the Amstel River, it’s on it. In fact, it almost looks like a floating hotel given how close to the water it is.

The hotel exterior
The hotel exterior

Walking up and down the Amstel River is as pleasant as can be. It’s also a quick way to reach the Hermitage Museum, the Jewish Historical Museum, and Waterlooplein. And the photogenic Skinny Bridge is en route.

While the true city center is not close enough to be a comfortable walk in my opinion, there are metro and tram stops only a block away – although I have a feeling most hotel guests don’t use public transport. (When I declined the bellman’s offer to arrange a car to the airport saying I’d take the metro instead, he looked at me as if I was nuts.)

The room

The view from my room was divine. Now, this is Amsterdam – pretty much everything is next to water. Even then, the view from this hotel must be one of the best in the city.

View of the Amstel River from my room
View of the Amstel River from my room

Not all rooms face the river so be sure to get a river-view room if that is important to you.

The Dutch décor isn’t my personal style, but that is purely a matter of taste (and I don’t think I’m the target demographic for this property).

Dutch decor
Dutch decor

The bathroom was large and luxurious with a tub, separate rain shower, and water closet. Bath amenities included robes, slippers, and even a nice jogging map for exercise-minded guests.

IC-AMS bathroom
Bathroom

Of note, this particular room featured a step-down bedroom with several steps between the bathroom and bedroom.

Steps from bedroom to bathroom
Steps from bedroom to bathroom

While it added character, I thought about the safety implications. It is one thing to have character in your own home, where everything is familiar to you, but in a hotel this can be a hazard if you forget it’s there when you make a middle-of-the-night trip to the bathroom while half asleep.

While I don’t think the hotel can do much to remedy this, I do think it’s worth mentioning. And if you have trouble negotiating steps in general, then I would be sure to get a room without them.

The service

As you might imagine, the service was most polished. It’s not the more laid-back, friendly type of service I described at the sister property across town, but there was no fault to be found with the service here either.

Check-in was seated at a desk, with the agent accompanying you to your room after completing the paperwork. Although I can appreciate that some guests like this extra touch, personally I have never been a fan of having an agent stand inside my hotel room droning on about its features. I find it awkward and unnecessary (I already know how to work a light switch, and I’m tired so please leave already).

Since I also dislike evening turn-down service, I hung up the do-not-disturb sign when leaving for dinner. I removed it as soon as I returned and, within 60 seconds of the sign coming down, a housekeeper knocked and offered turndown service. Maybe she was already nearby, but I thought that was very attentive and observant and I almost felt bad declining the service.

By the way, the embossed leather-like sign was so nice I wanted to steal it thinking it would’ve been a fun decorative piece for my home. (But I didn’t.)

IC-AMS DND sign
Do not disturb sign (looks much cooler in person)

The amenities

As with my review of the Crowne Plaza across town, I completely neglected to take pictures of any hotel amenities on this trip. I will blame it on a senior moment (or more like a senior week), but please excuse the oversight and fire up your imagination as I describe them without visuals.

The lobby was decorated in the same old-world style as the guest rooms, with a grand staircase in the center making for a great photo spot. However, I never saw guests actually sitting in the lobby (the environment felt more uppity than cozy) and the view isn’t that interesting (the river is not visible).

There’s a fitness center with a heated indoor pool overlooking the river – which you must see even if you don’t intend to work out or swim – and an outdoor terrace with lounge chairs.

The two restaurants looked marvelous in terms of setting, and one of them – La Rive – is very well regarded. But as a general rule I prefer eating around town to eating in hotels so I cannot comment on the food except to say I’m sure it would have been great, albeit priced to match. (In fact I’ve heard exactly that from acquaintances who stayed on another occasion.) 24-hour room service is also available.

Summary

Overall this is a very elegant, classic hotel as you would expect from its reputation of being the best hotel in Amsterdam and one of the best in the world. However, I personally would not pay “retail” to stay here as (1) I like to explore on foot and the location is not ideal for that, and (2) the old-world style and décor are not my thing.

If you intend to use private transportation for your stay then the location is not an issue; it is certainly close enough to be a quick car ride to the city center.

Pros:

  • Fabulous views of the Amstel River.
  • Elegant atmosphere.

Cons:

  • Not within easy walking distance of the city center (but only one block to tram and metro stations).

Cost:

  • I redeemed 36,000 IHG Rewards points for one night. (It is actually 40,000 points, but I received a 10% rebate from my co-branded credit card.)

Link to hotel website.

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Posted June 23, 2014 by Admin in category "Hotel Reviews", "IHG", "InterContinental", "Trip Reports

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