Brummell recommends: Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam

Add an abundance of culture, history and luxury to a break in the Dutch capital with a stay in one of Herengracht Canal’s most prestigious properties

Travel and Wellbeing 18 Mar 2024

Amsterdam is a city that you simply can’t just visit once – it’s compact enough that you can walk (or cycle, at your own risk) everywhere, it’s culture is so rich, diverse and inclusive that your itinerary can easily alter the vibe of your break upon every return visit and, despite taking just 45 minutes to fly to from the UK, feels a world away. Having the perfect base though is non-negotiable. For Brummell’s recent visit, the perfect aspirational home-from-home was the order of the day. And one we found in the Waldorf Astoria: a majestic canal-side haven offering a little slice of luxury, culture, exquisite service and a healthy dose of heritage.

Upon arrival, the professional hotel staff – dressed in traditional coat tails – whisked away our bags as we ascended the stairs to the stately entrance overlooking the Herengracht Canal. The hotel spans six 17th and 18th-century palaces, formerly private residences and a bank before being carefully renovated into the hotel in 2014. We were delighted to discover that not only does the renovation and decor of this treasure of Amsterdam’s Golden Age mirror the taste and character of the former owners but many of the original features are still in existence: the grand staircase with “H” carvings representing former residents the Hooft family, the armillary in the hotel’s restaurant Peacock Alley (a key part of Dutch maritime history) and a giant Vault door (the entrance to the Vault Bar) a nod to the building’s former purpose. 


Guest experience and satisfaction is high on the agenda here. Champagne and local cherries greeted us upon arrival in our King Grand Premier room – the only one in the hotel with a balcony overlooking the picturesque rooftops of the Grachtengordel neighbourhood, no less – after selecting the desired scent we would like sprayed at turn down. With classic elegant decor, a super comfortable king bed welcomed us after hours of walking alongside the canal ways of the city, the spacious and opulent bathroom with large bathtub, separate shower and two sinks was big enough to dance in while wearing the thickest softest robes and slippers courtesy of the hotel. As well as the private balcony, there was also a glorious window seat with view of the hotel’s beautiful garden – an area of calm in an otherwise buzzing city. 

Talking of tranquility, a stay here should not culminate without a trip to its Guerlain Spa – the perfect afternoon antidote to a morning of record-store hunting, museum wandering, and poffertjes munching. We opted for a 90-minute restorative massage – an invigorating hour and a half of bliss, in the comfortable, low lit and peaceful surroundings at the base of the hotel. This was followed by a rest in the spa lounge with a cup of herbal tea and a dip in the pool: its wall-to-ceiling windows seamlessly blending the nature of the abundant gardens outside with the soothing sounds of the pool’s waterfall. 

If you’re not out devouring a bowl of classic Dutch Bitterballen, book a table at one of the hotel’s restaurants – the two Michelin-starred Spectrum, helmed by chef Sidney Schutte offers a seven-course tasting menu making use of local ingredients, while Peacock Alley, a vibrant blue casual dining and lounge space is perfect for an afternoon tea or more relaxed dining experience. It was here that we tucked into two exquisite cod and tuna tartare starters, followed by creamy tortellini and delectable sea bass for main, followed by the staff’s recommended selection of craft cocktails while overlooking another section of the garden, tulips abound. But it’s the breakfast at Waldorf Astoria that acted as the perfect wake-up call for a day of culture and cycling. A three-tiered breakfast feast was ceremoniously delivered to our table adorned with pastries, cheeses, charcuterie, toasts, fruit, vegetables and hummus dip, alongside a menu of eggs and the most perfect circular hash brown we have ever seen – an absolute delight. 

We were made to feel so welcome that even after three nights, we felt like we were leaving a very familiar family home, waving bye to the incredibly professional, friendly and accommodating staff as if bidding adieu to our relatives and the knowledge that we will be back. We found our base and what a base it is!

Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam, 542-556 Herengracht, Amsterdam; from €1,234 (£1,055) per night;