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Photos courtesy of Sofitel Legend The Grand Amsterdam

 

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Two convents used to exist on this site. St. Katherine’s Convent to the south and St. Cecily’s to the north. The floor plan of the hotel reflects these origins. In fact, convents in this area of the city were quite common, perhaps since more women than men were alive at the end of the Middle Ages.

1578 marked the official adoption of Protestantism in Amsterdam. Convents were now turned over to the city. Renamed the “Princenhof,” St. Cecily’s Convent became a hotel to house the important guests of the city’s authorities, including Prince William the Silent in 1581, and French queen Maria de Medici in 1632.

The Admiralty of Amsterdam took over part of St. Katherine’s Convent for its offices. For a while the city of Amsterdam moved into the Princenhof, and then in 1662, the Admiralty took over the entire complex and erected a new building between the two former convents. Its beautiful fa├žade of Dutch classicism is today’s hotel entrance.

When Napoleon appointed his brother, Louis, as king of Holland, the latter demanded the city hall as his royal residence. The functions of the city hall now had to move back once again to the Princenhof, where it remained for 180 years.

In 1987, the city hall moved to new quarters. Left behind were so many additions, the former convents were barely discernable. With plans to convert the Princenhof to a five-star luxury hotel in 1992, no expense was spared to preserve the furnishings, stain-glassed windows, and architectural integrity.

Pamela’s Perspective

All this luxury and service in the heart of one of Europe’s great cities, doesn’t come cheap. Forget any budget and succumb to the splurge. Although the hotel has parking—unusual for the center of Amsterdam—be prepared to pay 50 euros for the privilege of an overnight spot.

Even though the hotel is near the red-light district, you’re hardly even aware of it. In fact, the hotel is a world of quiet in a city packed with tourists and activity.

 

Sofitel Legend The Grand Amsterdam

A 15th-century convent and town hall

Contact

Oudezijds Voorburgwal 197
1012 EX Amsterdam
Tel: ++31 (0) 20 555 31 11
Fax: ++31 (0)20 555 32 22
Hotel website
Reserve with Booking.com

Fast facts

177 rooms, including 52 suites

Double rooms: from 289 euros
Suites: from 476 euros
Rates do not include breakfast or taxes

Open: all year

Getting there

The hotel is about 1.5 km from Amsterdam’s central train station in the central part of the city.

What to do

On site: spa; indoor pool; hotel tour
Nearby: the attractions of Amsterdam. The hotel can arrange: horse carriage rides through the historic inner city; bike tours; boat tours along the canals

Weddings

Yes. Inquire hotel for details.

 

In the heart of Amsterdam’s historic inner city, this five-star star still retains traces of its noble origins. You’ll notice it in parts of the architecture—like the tiny tower on the north roof, for example. Be sure to take the hotel tour, offered at ten in the morning.

Otherwise the atmosphere here is more of an elegant residence than a hotel. Decor is contemporary French, with sculptures, paintings, and objets d’art throughout the public rooms.

Without question, the major centerpiece of every guest room are the divine mattresses and linen (available for purchase!). Furnishings are contemporary. Classic rooms can be a bit on the small side, and as you go up the scale to superior rooms, luxury rooms, and junior suites, the square footage increases. Guest rooms have views of either the 17th-century canals, the garden, or courtyard.

Classic and superior rooms have walk-in rain showers, and if you’d like a tub to soak in, you’ll need to sign up for a luxury room. Toiletries are by Hermes. For the ultimate indulgence, suites come with personal butlers to pack and unpack for you, handle your dinner reservations, and plan your days in the city.

An afternoon tea of fresh scones and delicate sandwiches (and a glass of champagne) is served everyday in the Parisian-style Library Or, with its stained-glass windows and black-and-white marble floors, or on the garden terrace.

If you plan on dining at the hotel’s award-winning “Bridges” restaurant, you’ll need to make reservations far in advance. Seafood is the specialty here. They also run the “Raw Bar,” where chefs prepare oysters, scallops, lobster, sashimi, and ceviche right in front of you.

Something special

curlicueGreat location in Amsterdam’s historic inner city—in walking distance to many museums and sites.