Travel Spotlight

First Look: Pulitzer Amsterdam

After a transformative renovation, the historic Pulitzer Amsterdam, which spans 25 400-year-old canal houses, reopened in summer 2016 and offers a modern representation of Amsterdam both past and present. The property exists today as a perfect example of gezellig—an oft-referenced Dutch word that describes a cozy, warm feeling. Drawing on Amsterdam’s most alluring attributes—storied canals, unique architecture and rich mercantile history—the new Pulitzer is just one of many signs pointing to the second coming of a Golden Age for Amsterdam.

Related: Alluring Amsterdam

Located just three blocks from Anne Frank Huis in the posh Nine Streets quarter, which teems with chic boutiques, charming cafés and excellent restaurants, the Pulitzer first opened in the 1970s by Peter Pulitzer. The grandson of Pulitzer Book Prize creator Joseph Pulitzer, Peter owned a hotel group with KLM Airlines and was scouting locations when he stumbled upon the block of canal houses where the Pulitzer now resides and was taken by its charm. Now under new ownership, the current hotel pays homage to the Pulitzer family through the library, a cozy hideaway filled with Pulitzer Prize–winning books and an honor bar. Such thoughtful design elements are courtesy of creative director Jacu Strauss, the interior design wunderkind who previously worked at Tom Dixon and is responsible for the whimsical Mondrian London. Strauss spent years researching the history of each of the 25 canal houses, sourcing antique furnishings from around Europe, designing custom pieces and surveying every detail of the guest rooms, none of which are exactly alike. Giving careful consideration to the structural difficulties of combining so many formerly separate buildings, Strauss created a patchwork quilt–like structure that is a true representation of its parts (different carpets and wall colors denote the boundaries of the former individual houses).

Related: Five Questions for... Jacu Strauss

The 225 rooms and suites at the Pulitzer abide by an elegant, industrial décor. Each unique room draws upon the history of the canal house that it resides within (former homes of trade merchants and Dutch aristocrats), and features a mix of vintage and modern furnishings, including Persian rugs, crystal chandeliers and pieces by designers like Anouk Beerents and Piet Hein Eek. But no amount of modernizing could overshadow the intrinsically Dutch feel, which is cemented into the design and overall vibe with such touches as exposed wooden beams and a bike repair set in each room. Rooms are punctuated by pops of color (think soft pink curtains, yellow blankets and playful pattern pillows), while the uber-elegant bathrooms are entirely white with marble floors, tiled walls, rainfall showers and Le Labo bath products.

Particularly noteworthy are the Pulitzer’s five suites. The Pulitzer suite, the top accommodation for couples, boasts a massive bedroom complete with a freestanding marble tub, elegant velvet Sé chair, intricate moldings and stunning views of the garden sanctuary. The four Collector’s Suites offer a taste of what it might have been like to own a canal-side home in Amsterdam during the 17th century. Each takes its design theme from its previous tenant (an art lover, book collector, music composer and antique collector), and has a private entrance and canal views. The Book Collector’s Suite is a favorite thanks to unique elements like an arched bookshelf in the bedroom, a floor-to-ceiling book wall in the living room (complete with a ladder to reach the uppermost titles) and vintage typewriter.

The Pulitzer’s joined canal houses guard perhaps the property’s most outstanding feature: a beautiful park. There guests will find ample room for lounging, alfresco dining on white-cushioned loungers (made comfortable by heaters in the fall and spring) and a bit of fun: one section, cheekily dubbed the “Adult Playground,” features cool rope swings and a grown up–sized wooden rocking horse.

Related: Street Smart Amsterdam

While the area surrounding the hotel boasts some of Amsterdam’s best restaurants, the Pulitzer has become a dining destination in its own right. Jansz serves international cuisine for breakfast, lunch and dinner and is accessed by either the main entrance or through a historic Apothecary (now serving as a waiting space), one of just two protected stores in the Nine Streets. The light, delicate restaurant features an open-kitchen, brass fixtures, moss green banquettes and several canal-side tables, where patrons can enjoy serene views during their dinners of miso-glazed cod and lobster risotto. In a departure from the light, airy design of the rest of the hotel, Pulitzer’s Bar channels a private club aesthetic, with dark velvet couches, a black marble fireplace and hunter green walls, and is the perfect environment for a potent nightcap. The most casual venue is Pause, which provides service in the lobby and garden, and offers a menu of coffee, pastries and light bites throughout the day.

Related: Top Tables Amsterdam

As another touching ode to Amsterdam’s rich history, the Pulitzer owns a beautiful boat, The Tourist, which runs canal tours daily. The stunning, century-old cruiser famously ferried Winston Churchill around the city when he visited for the one-year anniversary of Amsterdam’s liberation from Nazi Germany in 1946. Impeccably maintained and bedecked in maroon leather, polished teak and marble, The Tourist is a gorgeous boat on which to explore Amsterdam’s iconic waterways.

Published onOctober 6, 2016

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