This article appears in SUITCASE Volume 18: The Rhythm Issue.
I got lost every time I left my hotel room at The Pulitzer. It's true that the city of Amsterdam offers various forms of disorientation, but you would think I'd remember to turn right out of the lift, to make my way to breakfast without an accidental detour via the bar.
To give myself credit, The Pulitzer is a puzzle of a place. It is made up of 25 canal houses in a range of shapes and sizes, and is wrapped in centuries of stories that seem to encourage you to get lost. The establishment's modern history dates back to the Sixties when Peter Pulitzer, the grandson of the newspaper magnate and Pulitzer Prize founder, vowed to create Amsterdam's first five-star hotel. But between 2015 and 2016 the Pulitzer underwent a 16-month renovation led by the South African designer Jack Strauss, a protégé of Tom Dixon, and it is the Golden Age stories of the building that that resonate most clearly today.
In the 17th century, Amsterdam was a hub of art and commerce and past residents of the 25 town houses hall includes merchants, book collectors and a friend of Rembrandt. The ghosts of The Pulitzer past have come to bear on the hotel's four themed suites: the music collector's suite, for example, houses an antique gramophone, an impressive vinyl collection and a series of trumpets mounted on the walls.
The result of the renovation is a playful exchange between history and modernity. Now guests enter the lobby through the first new structure to have been built in the canal district since the area was granted Unesco protection in 2010; a hallway that houses a florist with a grand piano suspended overhead. In the main reception there's a library filled with books by Pulitzer Prize-winners, a reception desk tiled in Delftware ceramics and deep-green walls adorned with Golden Age portraits as well modern photography. This interplay translates to the rooms as well, which feel like thoughtfully updated relics. And the restaurant, named after the 17th-century copper merchant and eccentric Volkert Janz, retains the original interiors of a former apothecary shop as its entrance. Locals come to eat here before sidling into the deep green Pulitzer bar; some of them seemed to get a little lost on the way too.
There are 225 rooms that come in a ragbag of different shapes in sizes, spread across 25 houses. Each comes with a bicycle repair kit, a gilded antique mirror and drinks trolley, vintage telephone and a tea and coffee set with Dutch stroopwafels. The bedroom interiors are aligned with the colours of Dutch masters - deep greens, rich blues and sumptuous plums - while the bathrooms are gleaming white.
What's for breakfast?
A buffet-style breakfast is served daily in Jansz and the spread includes fresh fruit, cereals pastries and an extensive a la carte offering (try the eggs benedict or French toast). If you're in a rush you can grab a coffee and croissant from the lobby café.
How about lunch and dinner?
The restaurant's design is muted, allowing the canal and surrounding streets to flood in. Chef Cassidy Hallman produces simple yet compelling dishes that include lobster risotto, miso glazed cod and a delicious New York-style cheesecake.
Is there a bar?
The Pulitzer's old-fashioned bar has a clubhouse feel, and is as popular with locals as it is hotel guests. Sip signature juleps in the shade of Golden Age portraits and stacks of vintage books.
Library, florist, free wifi, free bicycle rental, a vintage canal boat offering tours of the city.
Things you should know
The place is a puzzle so be prepared to get a little lost trying to find your room, especially after a night out. Be sure to book a tour on The Tourist, the Pulitzer's canal boat which was built in 1909 and retains its original teak interiors, quilted leather seating and Tiffany lamps. Winston Churchill toured the city aboard the boat in 1946.
Within a short walk you can find…
Anne Frank House - Amsterdam's most famous cultural landmark, a museum dedicated to the 15-year-old Jewish wartime diarist and victim of the Holocaust. Nine Streets - A shopping area that houses bookstores, coffee houses and on-trend boutiques including We Are Labels. Venus and Adonis - A cosy bar and grill dedicated to surf and turf.