GOING DUTCH AT THE PULITZER – AMSTERDAM
Updated: Apr 29, 2020
On the banks of the Prinsengracht and Keizersgracht in Amsterdam is the uniquely gorgeous Pulitzer Amsterdam. Housed within twenty-five 17th and 18th century interconnected canal houses, this luxury 225 room hotel sits in the heart of one of Amsterdam’s chicest neighbourhoods.
Amsterdam’s Golden Age began in the 17th Century, a time when the city was the wealthiest in the world, largely thanks to it being a major shipping and trading port. The Dutch began trading with the Far East and created the worlds first multinational corporation, the ‘Dutch East India Company’ in 1602.
The Dutch had the monopoly on Asian trade and became the most powerful and largest enterprise in the world. Wealthy merchants built the beautiful buildings and canal houses that now stand proudly in Amsterdam today. The upper class lived in the large canal houses nearest the old town, like the buildings along the Keizersgracht, in contrast to the Prinsengracht which was an outer canal ring, where warehouses were situated.
The Pulitzer Amsterdam story began in 1960 when Peter Pulitzer (Grandson of the famous Pulitzer Prize founder and newspaper giant Joseph Pulitzer) recognised that the grand canal houses which were falling into disrepair had the potential to be brought back to life as a unique and luxury hotel. Initially twelve canal houses were purchased and were renovated to create Amsterdam’s first five-star hotel.
On my visit to The Pulitzer, I couldn’t help but instantly notice the difference between the elegant canal houses on Keizersgracht and the more industrial style buildings on the Prinsengracht.
In the 17th and 18th centuries when rich merchants were constructing their canal houses, plots were narrow due to space restrictions. The fact that tax was determined by the width of the properties entrance hallway, probably also had an influence.
To combat this and make the houses appear more grand, architects designed large elegant double door frames with grand pillars and tall windows on the ground floor. The windows became smaller as the floors rose to give the impression that the house appeared taller than it actually was and therefore look larger in stature.
In contrast the warehouse canal houses were characterised by their beautiful gables and double doors on each floor. Store rooms were generally in the attics and basements of the houses and on the gables they attached hooks to enable goods to be winched to the top of the building and through the windows and goods doors.
In August 2016, The Pulitzer Amsterdam completed a major refurbishment of the entire hotel and constructed a new main entrance to the hotel situated on the Prinsengracht, an understated black glass industrial style opening which was sympathetically designed in keeping with the original canal house.
As you enter you are greeting by a huge grand piano hanging from the ceiling, perhaps inspired by goods that used to be winched up into the building’s store room.
Jacu Strauss, formerly a Senior Designer at Tom Dixon, was the Creative Director for the recent refurbishment of the Pulitzer Amsterdam.
Original features have been exposed and the interior took inspiration from the many merchants and wealthy Dutch aristocrats who’s unique lives gave the hotel its character.
Strauss stated that it was the building’s history and the people who may have once lived there that were pinnacle in the hotels interior design. Strauss stated;
In order to create something that is timeless, you have to understand the property…and understand the people…because that is the thing that will give it longevity.
Entering the lobby area from the canal side, the space features huge wooden beams and rustic wooden flooring, reminiscent of this particular canal house’s history as a former warehouse. The reception desks feature a mixture of the traditional local Delft pottery in it’s iconic white and blue colour scheme with metal and black cargo container style desks to complement the warehouse influence.
To soften the look, soft velvet fabrics and luxurious upholstery in bright cobalt blue, lime green and soft baby pink mix well with the raw natural woods and brick walls.
Furnishings were sourced locally with many antiques used along with new modern pieces, to blend old Amsterdam with the new.
Art is a prominent feature throughout The Pulitzer Amsterdam, with pieces from the hotel’s private art collection. Many of the pieces feature portraits of people, this was intentional as people and their lives are influential to the heart of the hotel. In the lobby a giant floral picture greets guests, you’d be mistaken into thinking it is a painting from the 17th century, when the image is actually a modern-day photo formed from plastic cutlery.
Leading off from the lobby is the intimate Pulitzer Library, with soft brown leather wing back chairs, this retreat is where the hotel displays all of the Pulitzer Prize winning books.
Further into the lobby is ‘Pause’ a bright and airy café and bar area overlooking the outdoor garden courtyard. The luxury interior features emerald-green lounge chairs trimmed in gold and complimented with black marble tables. 'Pause' serves breakfast, light meals, coffee and wine throughout the day and also serves the courtyard too.
THE PULITZER GARDENS
Moving out to the Pulitzer Gardens, designed by renowned Dutch garden architects, Copijn, the garden connects the canal houses from the Keizersgracht wing to the Prinsengracht. The garden was designed to feel like a city park, split into several areas such as the adult play park, the 'Pause' outdoor lounge area and the silent garden.
For the Christmas Season the garden has been transformed into the Winter Garden, complete with a beautiful giant Christmas tree that had to be lifted by crane over the top of the hotel, a perfect spot to enjoy some mulled wine.
One of my personal favourite past times has to be eating and drinking especially in luxurious surroundings..handy whilst being at the Pulitzer Amsterdam with their über cool, Pulitzer’s Bar.
The timeless Art Deco style bar oozes old school glamour, making you feel you’ve been transported back in time. Sit back in comfortable classic armchairs with a mixture of aged leather and velvet upholstery around an open fireplace. The dark walls and contrasting gold bar create a stunning atmosphere with a relaxed vibe. Soft candle light and a cocktail menu created by cocktail connoisseur Andrew Nicholls make for a very sophisticated day/evening.
I recommend the ‘Pineapple Old Fashioned’ that comes served on a bed of straw which I am told adds “a layer of aroma and texture to the drink”
The hotel’s restaurant, Jansz, named after the Dutch 17th century cloth merchant and craftsman Jansz Volkert, an Amsterdam resident, is an upscale but relaxed all day dining restaurant.
The interior appears elegant but comfortable, soft light oak wooden floors mix well with the white walls and soft coloured wood cladding.
The cladding on the walls is actually influenced from canal house front doors, typically found around the neighbourhood in the 17th century. White marble tables contrast well with the simple Scandinavian style dark wooden chairs and plush velour booths.
Jansz Volkert expanded his empire during the 17th century by melting brass into copper and the restaurant reflects the building’s history with copper accents and accessories throughout.
The restaurant is open not only to hotel guests but to the general public and can be accessed via it’s own private street entrance through the ‘Apotheca’
The entrance features a geometric tiled floor and features the original columns and woodwork cabinetry from the room’s history as a pharmacy.
The Jansz Restaurant is open daily from 6.30am till 11pm and serves breakfast, lunch and dinner with classic dishes using the finest ingredients.
ROOMS & SUITES
Each one of the 225 rooms and suites within The Pulitzer has been individually styled. Creative Designer Jacu Strauss slept in every room to enable him to get a feel for each room and how it’s history could mix with its modern existence today.
The Pulitzer has several categories of rooms and suits from ‘Cozy’ to the most impressive ‘Collector’s Suites’ inspired by the elaborate characters that have been residents in these canal houses. “From a compulsive art devotee to an eccentric book lover; a music composer and a grand antique collector” these suites are beautifully and uniquely designed.
Each of the four ‘Collector’s Suites’ feature their own private street entrance along with access into the hotel, giving the guest a feeling of having their own luxurious canal-side residence with all the amenities of an upscale hotel.
Personally, I fell in love with ‘The Art Collector’s Suite.’ A 54 m2 suite with wall to wall art work from the Pulitzer’s private collection. The suite also features the Pulitzer’s most famous piece of art “Hals Brunch” by Thierry de Cromieres.
This huge six meter painting has a striking resembles to Frans Hals’ masterpiece “The Last Supper” however on closer inspection, it’s had a little, shall we say “modern touch” to it. Commissioned especially for the Pulitzer, the painting features beer cans, burgers, Mickey Mouse ears and a laptop.
The 69 m2 ‘Book Collector’s Suite’ features a huge floor to ceiling archway of books within the bedroom and a living room bringing to mind the feeling of being inside a quaint library with views over the canal.
All the suites feature unique furnishings, the headboard’s echo the silhouettes of the canal house gables and there’s even a nod to Strauss’ past with Tom Dixon lighting. The attention to detail is fabulous. The hotel even include a bicycle tyre repair kit in each room…well it is Amsterdam after all.
The Pulitzer offers a wide range of room categories from ‘Cozy’ and ‘Classic’ rooms to ‘Family Suites’ with prices starting from £230 a night.
With the Pulitzer’s unique location on the banks of the famous Amsterdam canals, it’s only appropriate that they have their own boat, a gorgeous classic saloon boat from 1909. The Pulitzer Hotel offer their guests a canal tour of Amsterdam every afternoon. Aboard the luxury boat, guests can admire the canals in elegant luxury with an interior of polished teak and brass, traditional carpeting, marble, leather and beveled glass. The Pulitzer boat gave Winston Churchill a tour of Amsterdam back in 1946…pretty cool huh?!
The Pulitzer Amsterdam hosts a variety of events throughout the year. Taking place annually during the month of August since 1981, on the doorstep of The Pulitzer Hotel, an open air classical concert is held called the Prinsengracht Concert. Over 10,000 people gather to watch artists and a classical orchestra from their boats, windows and the quays.
I think it would only be fair that I return to The Pulitzer Amsterdam in August and experience the Prinsengracht Concert for myself…The Art Collector’s suite will do just fine!!!