Pulitzer Hotel review, Amsterdam: A standout gem in a city of gems

Our rating

5 out of 5

THE LOCATION

One of the wonderful things about Amsterdam is that it's just such a walkable city, which means that you're never too far from anywhere. The Pulitzer is a 20-minute stroll from Central Station in the Western Canals and right on the edge of the Jordaan​ district. Turn right out of the front doors and you're minutes away from the Westerkerk, the Anne Frank House and the Tulip Museum.

THE SPACE

The Pulitzer Amsterdam is made up of 25 – yes, twenty-five – beautifully restored and interconnected 17th- and 18th-century merchant houses and warehouses ranged around a large and leafy inner courtyard. 

Taking up a large part of a city block in Amsterdam's UNESCO World Heritage canals area, the buildings were gradually acquired over 30 years or so by Peter Pulitzer, the grandson of Pulitzer Prize founder Joseph Pulitzer.

Today, the hotel has 225 rooms and suites, and boasts that no two are the same. There's also Jansz, a popular restaurant that overlooks the Keizergracht​, a cozy hotel bar and Pause, a casual cafe just off the foyer (where the reception desks are made up of old steamer trunks covered in traditional blue-and-white Dutch tiles).

The hotel underwent a major renovation in 2015 and 2016, and has emerged as a wonderfully whimsical and eclectic conglomeration of styles and designs without losing any of its old-fashioned elegance.

THE ROOM

My room on the top floor sits under the eaves of one of the old merchant houses and overlooks the Prinsengracht​, one of the canals that encircle the city. It's not the largest room in the world but adequate enough for two people.

There's no bath but there is a shower big enough to hold an intimate cocktail party. The downstairs lounge features a desk (the tyre repair kit in the drawer is a nice touch), a two-seat sofa and an armchair. A flat-screen TV sits on what looks like a 1920s drinks trolley repurposed as a mini-bar.

As befits what is essentially an attic, the room is A-shaped, the side walls leaning in to form an inverted V. In one half, above the lounge, hangs a bicycle while the other half is given over to a sleeping platform which is reached by steep stairs and which contains a bed and a couple of side tables. The roof here, it must be said, is a little too close for comfort for anyone taller than Kylie Minogue.

I do tour the rest of the hotel and mine is one of the smaller rooms. The suites, each decorated according to a theme (the antique collectors' suite, the book lovers' suite etc), are magnificent.

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THE FOOD

There's the bright and airy Pause Cafe just past the foyer, which serves coffee, croissants, cakes and the like, but the main game here is Jansz, the restaurant where breakfast, lunch and dinner are served. In contrast to the Pulitzer Bar next door, which is all leather, dark wood and low lighting, Jansz is much more feminine in feel (a deliberate ploy by the hotel). The walls are a dark blue-green and decorated with pictures in the gloomy Dutch style but this is enlivened by pink curtains, pink menus and pink napkins.

The service is exemplary and the food excellent. A duck and pistachio terrine comes wrapped in prosciutto and is accompanied by little blobs of mustard, toast and a mini-salad. For a main I opt for the miso-glazed cod in a dashi​ broth, which is a little piece of heaven. 

The restaurant and bar are both open to the public and have separate entrances so people don't have to go traipsing through the hotel itself. The restaurant's entrance is through what used to be an apothecary and is wonderfully decorated with flasks and esoteric apparatus.

STEPPING OUT

First, keep your wits about you. Those locals zip around on their bicycles at quite a pace, many of them busy on their mobile phones.

There are the usual tourists spots, of course, around the museum quarter (Van Gogh and the Rijksmuseum among others), the Red Light district and the Old Town but they can be frenetic.

For a more relaxed look at what Amsterdam has to offer take time to visit the Jordaan district. Just cross the bridge by the hotel entrance and there you are. It's fairly untouristed but still alive with the history and magic of this fascinating city.

THE VERDICT

The buildings are beautiful and the renovation has made the most of their tradition and charm while also updating them for the 21st century. It's a seriously good hotel with a quirky, fun side. A standout gem in a city of gems.

ESSENTIALS

Prinsengracht 323, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Phone +31 (0) 20 5235235, see pulitzeramsterdam.com

HIGHLIGHT

Jansz restaurant not only does a superlative dinner but if you can snare a window table for breakfast it's the perfect spot for canal and people watching while scoffing your eggs benedict.

LOWLIGHT

The low roof in the attic room and the steep stairs down from the sleeping platform make for a perilous late-night trip to the bathroom. Not for the faint of heart or those unsteady on their pins.

Keith Austin was a guest of the Pulitzer Amsterdam.

★★★★★