Staying in a Traditional Amsterdam Canal House at the Ambassade Hotel
The first time I saw the Ambassade Hotel in Amsterdam, I was staying at a different hotel on the other side of the city in Newmarkt. We were wandering around the canal belts when we came across it, and vowed that the next time we went to Amsterdam that’s where we would stay. The area was beautiful, the hotel looked fabulous, and I wanted to stay in a canal house.
When the time came for a return trip to the Dutch capital we got straight on to booking.com to book up for the Ambassade. It was by no means cheap, at £250 per night it’s a good job we were only staying the one, but it was totally worth it.
Ambassade Hotel – History and Location
The Ambassade is located on the Herengracht canal, which is one of three canal belts that encloses around the medieval centre of the city. It was built later than the centre and dates back to the 17th Century. The buildings along the Herengracht are all fabulous, traditional canal houses ranging from small and narrow to huge and extravagant. The mansions are now no longer residential, but the Ambassade took over ten of the narrow canal houses and turned them into a hotel.
Located right next to the nine streets, close to the Jordaan and within easy walking distance to the centre and the museum district, we found the Ambassade to be in the perfect position for an all round city break in Amsterdam. A luxury one at that! I’ll come back to the location and specifics of what you can do close by to the hotel later in the post, especially if you’re only there for one night like we were.
Ambassade Hotel – Welcome
On arrival to the hotel, we found the little entrance underneath one of the canal houses towards the end of the row. You can spot it by the extravagant displays they always have outside, twinkling lights in winter and huge floral displays in spring and summer. To enter, you go down the steps and in through the glass doors.
You’re welcomed in by reception, who take your bags and check you in while giving a run down on the hotels facilities. They’re friendly and welcoming, and were happy to give us lunchtime suggestions as the brasserie is only open in the evening.
The concierge took our big, medieval looking room key and escorted us back out the front of the hotel to our room. I was quite surprised actually, for some reason I assumed it would have all been knocked through, accessible by lifts to each floor and each room. I’m so pleased they haven’t though, all the individual canal houses are still as they were.
Ambassade Hotel – Rooms
We were staying in a Duplex Superior Room, which wasn’t the most expensive room available, but it wasn’t the cheapest either. Staying in an old canal house I wanted the authentic experience. We were led along the row of canal houses belonging to the Ambassade, and up the grand stoop entranceway to a big double green door. It was one of those doors that when it opened, it was actually only half the width. A wall ran straight down the middle of the doorway, so you could see the split of the buildings wasn’t how it looked from the exterior at all.
We were in a long narrow corridor, typical of Amsterdam and their narrow but lengthy houses due to tax laws in the past. The concierge took us along the corridor to our room, which turned out to be more like an apartment.
We found ourselves in the lounge area, with quaint old fashioned plush furniture, and an ornate writing desk. It was tiny, but beautiful, and the first thing I did was go and look through the blind at the view outside. We were above ground level, looking straight over what I can only describe as a beautiful traditional Amsterdam view. The canal houses straight across the canal that was quiet and serene flowing past, the stacks of bicycles against the lamppost and the trees, the arch bridges to the left, and narrow pedestrian footpaths that run alongside the railings. So worth the money for the view.
The bathroom was also downstairs, tucked away under the spiral wrought iron staircase that took us up to the mezzanine where the bedroom was.
It was like a half balcony, also with a view straight out that massive window. The window went the full height of our room really. The bedroom had a huge king size comfy looking bed, decorated in black and gold. How lavish. The wardrobe was just as ornate as the desk downstairs, and there was a chaise longue half sofa by the railing overlooking the downstairs, all done up to match the bed.
It was fabulous and it was pretty cool to see the inside of a canal house and how they’re set up even today into different apartments. Everything was about maximising space in such narrow confinements. There was a TV, free wifi, and coffee making facilities too, as well as room service.
When the concierge left it honestly felt like we just lived in Amsterdam. It wasn’t a normal hotel room experience. We could come and go as we liked up our little porch and into our own self standing apartment.
As each building of the hotel is different, each room is different. Looking through the website and the hotel brochure you can get a sense of each room, but each one is decorated differently, has a different colour scheme, view, unique traits and front door.
Ambassade Hotel – Brasserie
The hotel has a brasserie off from reception, that can be used by both hotel guests and as a standalone restaurant even if you aren’t staying. It looked amazing, but unfortunately we didn’t get chance to eat there during our stay.
Ambassade Hotel – Library and Bar
The library and bar area of the Ambassade were like nothing I’ve ever experienced before. Spread over two rooms along from reception, there are shelves upon shelves of books and journals across all of the walls. The spare space is taken up with quirky paintings and art pieces, and there’s so much to look at you don’t even notice the bar at the far end at first. The tiny round tables are dotted about, with comfy chairs that you just sink into.
Reading through some of the guestbooks and hotel literature on the tables, it turned out that a lot of the books that you can enjoy there are signed by the authors. There are over 4000 signed books in the Ambassade library, and even more famous guest signatures in the hotel guestbooks. Politicians, celebrities, authors and artists alike choose to stay here. The collection of both books and artwork is on display throughout the entire hotel, and with enough to fill ten canal houses that’s pretty impressive.
You can enjoy them with cocktails, a full range of alcoholic or non alcoholic drinks, or even just a tea or coffee from the bar.
Ambassade Hotel – what’s near?
I said I’d come back to the location of the hotel, and you really can’t beat it. I’d stay in this area again in a heartbeat. Not only is it a beautiful area of the city, but it’s well within walking distance of so many things you may want to see or do as part of your visit. When we stayed here we were only there for one night, which is by no means enough time to experience Amsterdam. If however, you’re only there for one night you want to make the most of your time. So here’s what we managed to fit in, all within walking distance of the Ambassade.
Nine Streets – the hotel is right on the edge of the Nine Streets, known for their unique clothing boutiques, quirky museums and bustling cafes. Pluk Amsterdam is my favourite, only a few minutes walk away and perfect for breakfast or brunch.
Anne Frank House – Through the nine streets you can reach Anne Frank’s House and museum, and the iconic Westerkerk church in under ten minutes. This is also a hop on hop off point for the city sightseeing canal boats, so you can access the furthest away parts of the city easily from the water.
Rijksmuseum and the Museum District – again, within easy walking distance you can come across the famous Rijksmuseum and museum district. It’s my favourite area of the city for the quaint little streets and eccentric art work on display in the windows of all the galleries. There’s a cute little cafe up there too, called Stef’s, and if it’s pouring like it was when we were there the hotel provide umbrellas.
Centre of Amsterdam – as I said earlier the Herengracht is one of the canals that circles the old centre of the city, so if you wanted to go exploring the Red Light District, Niewmarkt, or Dam Square and the Royal Palace, they’re all easily walked to.
Overall the Ambassade really is fabulous, I can’t think of anything I would fault except that I wish the brasserie had been open for lunch. The staff were great at recommendations and directions, so we weren’t stuck for alternatives, and our stay was worth every penny.
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