Story by Barbara Angelakis
Photos by Manos Angelakis

Amsterdam Legent The Grand Entrance 2

Sofitel Legend The Grand Hotel Amsterdam
Oudezijds Voorburgwal 197,
1012 EX Amsterdam, The Netherlands
www.sofitel.com/amsterdam

The Grand Hotel Amsterdam states a truism in its name, for this hotel is  truly grand.  The oldest part of the building dates to 1411 and its  history includes housing a convent; a Royal lodging; the Dutch  Admiralty; City Hall of Amsterdam; and now a five-star deluxe luxury  hotel. Thankfully, its recent transition to a Sofitel Legend hotel under the guidance of famous French interior architect Sybille de Margerie,  managed to integrate all of the architectural features of its historic  march through time into a modern-day hospitality venue updated with 21st century amenities.

Fashionably located facing the Oudezijds Voorburgwal (canal) the entrance is  through a “grand” courtyard. The building to the left was the Saint  Cecilia convent and Catharina Monastery which in 1581 played host to  Prince William of Orange and in 1632 the French Queen Maria de Medici.  After the Reformation, it was converted into the Admiralty headquarters  and afterward for almost two hundred years it functioned as Amsterdam’s  City Hall. Finally in 1992 it was restored and opened as The Grand  Hotel. In 2011 after extensive renovations, The Grand became a Sofitel  Legend hotel, the first in Europe.

Amsterdam Sofitel Legend The Grand

The courtyard that once played host to horse-drawn carriages nowadays  entertains sleek luxury vehicles, but with the same time-honored  liveried doorman greeting and assist from your vehicle into the waiting  reception. You are welcomed like a returning friend and shown to one of  the 177 guestrooms or 52 suites with Butler service, each individually  decorated in soft elegant natural tones and rich materials. Heads of  state and celebrities often stay in one of the spacious and well  appointed suites or in the Canal House Suites which are more like a  private home than a hotel suite. The twelve Canal House Suites were  formerly official residences of famous Dutch admirals, when the main  building was the Admiralty headquarters during the 17thcentury.

Several of the Canal House Suites have an individual separate entrance from the street but all offer complete privacy and security for visiting  dignitaries or guests who prefer anonymity but with all the luxuries  that a deluxe hotel can provide, including a Butler and Michelin star  restaurant. Or if preferred, a guest can bring their own personal staff  and/or cook and everything will be provided and the suite stocked  according to the guest’s tastes.

Amsterdam Legrand Council Chamber

The hotel is so unique that daily sightseeing tours are offered to  registered guests to explore this very special historic building.  Especially appealing was that all of the staff we interacted with  displayed enormous pride in this very grand hotel, including the Head  Concierge Niels Essink, who leads a team which including himself, boats  five members of the international organization of excellence Les Clefs  d’Or.  From the refined lobby you enter into the Library “OR” which is off the reception. The library is not only a place to relax around the  fireplace but the venue for The Grand Afternoon Tea, or weather  permitting, this delightful tradition can be enjoyed in the Garden  Terrace. This is a full-blown traditional English afternoon tea with all the trimmings. Continuing on, we mount the elegant marble  split-stairway with the stained-glass artwork leading to the upper  floors Banqueting and Conference rooms.

Amsterdam Legrand Wedding Room

The Grand has some of the most beautiful public rooms I have ever seen. One called the Council Chamber is where H.R.H. Princess Beatrix of the  Netherlands got married in 1966. But for the ultimate in special  occasion venues, the Marriage Chamber takes your breath away and is  available for marriage ceremonies or private dinners. The Marriage  Chamber was designed by Chris Lebeau (1878-1945) when the building was  Amsterdam’s City Hall.  The walls and ceiling are covered with  delightful scenes of love and marriage and continued on the  stained-glass windows that when opened reveal an interior garden view.  Imagine a perfect wedding scene: sailing into the Oudezijds Canal,  embarking and entering the grand courtyard and being led through the  marble halls to this spectacular room to be married. Afterwards have  your reception in the interior garden and spend your wedding night in  one of the elegant suites... perfect! 

During the WWII Nazi occupation, the room was declared “Entartete Kunst” or degenerate art and it was covered over until in 1953 the Mayor of  Amsterdam, Arnold J. d’Ailly, had the wallpaper removed to reveal once  again the spectacular design.

Amsterdam Legrand Spa Pool

Nowadays no deluxe hotel is complete without a spa and at The Grand there is the SoSPA which houses an indoor heated swimming pool, Turkish Hamam,  Jacuzzi and Sauna. There is a fitness room and of course rooms for  different massage, facial and body treatments with elite French skincare products.

Amsterdam Legrand Bridges Restaurant

The Michelin star restaurant Bridges can be entered from the hotel, but for diners not registered, there is a separate entrance from the street.  The name “Bridges” refers to the fact that the restaurant fronts the river between two pedestrian bridges. Bridges is a fish and seafood  restaurant and their motto is taken from English writer Jonathan Swift’s comment that “Fish should swim three times: first in the sea, then in butter, and finally in good wine”.

And so ends our memorable experience in the delightful city of Amsterdam.

 

 

 

© March 2017 LuxuryWeb Magazine. All rights reserved.

 

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