[by Marjolein] As much as we love far away destinations, we do appreciate what’s right under our noses. This weekend tip is all about a home game in beloved familiar surroundings. Where color turns out to be a theme and the location is in the heart of Amsterdam at a bend in the river Amstel. It evolves around 5 * Hotel de l’Europe, Grande Dame of Amsterdam hotels since 1896. A big smile from the doorman (with hat!) makes me feel welcome. The warm red décor of the grand lobby is exactly what one needs on a crisp winter day. Time to check in!
Hotel de l’Europe: blue
We stay in a Junior Suite River View, decorated in the most beautiful blue imaginable. Not just any blue, but Vermeer blue. Famous Dutch artist Vermeer grinded lapis lazuli into a fine powder and mixed it with drying oil. He used this precious natural ultramarine in his ‘Woman in Blue’ painting. A huge blow-up detail of this – circa 1663 – master piece adorns one wall of our spacious room.
Curtains, fauteuils and bed heads are done in shades of blue velvet, combined with dark wood. I love it. De l’Europe understands the feeling of true luxury. The bathroom is all-over grey and white marble with two wash basins, a big tub and separate shower. Amenities by French ‘nose’ Monsieur Blaise Mautin are plentiful. As are the towels. Want this at home too. Am almost too busy to take in the Amstel river view (it’s fab). On to the next adventure at Hotel de l’Europe: Le Spa by Skins Institute.
Le Spa by Skins Institute: white
‘Rest and serenity of the mind and body in an atmosphere of luxury and comfort.’
Need I say more? I am booked in for a facial. One can never have enough facials after fifty. I wrap myself in the fluffy bathrobe, put on my white slippers and take the elevator down into the souterrain. Et voilà: enter Le Spa by Skins Institute. Yes, that same Skins which is part of Skins Cosmetics. Of unique organic products and Diptique scents.
I lie on the comfy treatment bed, wrapped in soft towels and just let it happen. The soft tissue massage is not my idea of relaxation, but does miracles to my skin. The hour flies past in the able hands of Nathalie. Le Spa by Skins Institute offers 4 treatment rooms, saunas, a pool and fitness. After a herbal tea in the relaxation room, I’m ready for a swim. I turn on the jet stream and try to swim against it. Now I understand why this pool doesn’t need to be Olympic-sized. I could swim for hours without moving an inch. I could. But won’t. Time to get back up to that gorgeous Junior Suite, dress up and on to Freddy’s Bar.
Freddy’s Bar: orange
Freddy’s Bar: named after Freddy Heineken. As we have a long evening ahead, I ask for a mocktail. Handsome head barman William suggests an alternative. I get an orange lightly sparkling drink: Nix and Kix, made of blood orange, turmeric and a little cayenne ‘for a happy pick me up!’ as the can says. Nix and Kix is vegan, low in calories and contains no caffeine. Thank you, William.
The vibes at Freddy’s Bar are exactly what one wishes for in a top hotel bar. Dark colors, a bit of mystery, a mix of locals + hotel guests. Live piano tunes, charming bartenders. Snacks. As if Freddy himself created it.
We have to make some choices at our Amstel view table in Michelin star restaurant Bord’Eau. Husband decides on the Terroir & Ocean menu and I go for Soil & Nature in
The burrata buried under winter truffle is quite impressive. Too bad I cannot share the scent. We both love the 2015 white pinot noir from South Africa. It’s named Storm and comes from the Hemel-en-Aarde (Heaven and Earth) Valley. No kidding.
Young Chef Bas van Kranen – on hip sneakers – comes in to explain the main dish. For me it’s all vegetable-oriented. Healthy and tasty. Last but not least, a giant chocolate coral reef is wheeled in. A what? A massive coral reef with chocolate fruits de mer. We get a selection of home-made shells and mussels.
Suddenly it is morning again, the giant bed was so comfortable that I feel super rested. I open the curtains and take in the view. It’s time for breakfast. Luxury buffet style, just the way I like it. I note a gluten free section and there’s honey straight from the comb. All the egg varieties one can wish for. Fruits, nuts, the works. And smart: small packages of cereal varieties, labeled De L’Europe. Time for the last stretch of our 24H in Amsterdam adventure: a visit to De Oude Kerk.
Oude Kerk Amsterdam: red
Amsterdam’s oldest (14th century) listed building De Oude Kerk is a must see. Even if you have to walk through the red light district to get there. The color red made me want to go: a window by Italian artist Giorgio Andreotta Calò (1979). There’s been much uproar about his four metre high red glass window. Judge for yourself. I like it.
The enormous Oude Kerk is quiet at this hour but I hear interesting sounds and notice people around a ‘piano’ in the High Choir. What’s going on? It turns out to be The instrument of Troubled Dreams. A project by the artists Janet Cardiff (1957) and George Bures Miller (1960). These two have combined a 1980s Mellotron with a modern surround-sound installation. This Mellotron has 72 keys, each programmed to produce a different sound. And one is supposed to play it! I feel like a kid instantly. I make the huge church space rumble with thunder and lightning. I press more keys. Out come choral hymns and I let the ceiling crack. A raven is screaming, water is dripping, a cat meouwing. Great fun. Go and experience this yourself. It is a must-do till 29 April 2019.
After all these fantastic colorful and tasty experiences it’s time to return home and digest mentally, in Chapter Fifty style.
I was invited to stay at Hotel de l’Europe on behalf of Chapter Fifty. Chapter Fifty only accepts items or collaborations that answer positive to the question: “does it match our lifestyle?”. We will not promote anything that we would not wear, where we would not eat, sleep or see ourselves. Authenticity is very important to us. Words, photos and opinions are our own.