My Favorite Amsterdam Hotel – the Andaz

A few weeks ago we stayed in what has become my favorite hotel in Amsterdam – the Andaz Amsterdam Prinsengracht.  This modern edifice sits on the Prinsengracht canal, less than a 10-minute walk from the Anne Frank House.  I cannot say enough good things about this hotel!  The extremely helpful staff is a big plus, and for those of you who don’t know, English in Holland is spoken fluently or near-fluently by virtually everyone.  That is certainly the case at the Andaz.

The photo above is of the magnificent contemporary lobby.  One wall of the elevator is glass, and as you rise up towards your floor you see a variety of mostly classic Dutch images signifying an ascent from the lower depths of Hades to Heaven.  It’s really quite impressive, but I would not describe the lobby as hellish — quite the contrary!  Check-in is done at a table with a laptop or iPad, and you sit down in the bar area with a complimentary coffee or soft drink while the process is completed.

Rooms are very comfortable, pretty, and modern featuring cool motifs — ours was fish as you can see from the photo below:

With all due respect to some of the amazing breakfasts we’ve had at other hotels around the world, this gets my vote for the numero uno (or as they say in Dutch, nummer een) hotel breakfast.  Their spread is not to be believed, with tasty fresh breads, croissants, rolls, muffins, delicious cheese and fruit — and the cooked foods — from eggs any style to bacon, sausage, and the like — prepared delicately and bursting with flavor.  Coffee and hot chocolate are of the highest quality.  Below are some pics from the dining area:

The hotel’s location on this glorious canal is hard to beat as well.  As I mentioned earlier, you are not only very close to the Anne Frank House, but also the West Church, Leiden square, and quite a few museums, such as the Hermitage Amsterdam and the Rembrandt House.  The hotel is adjacent to the “Nine Streets” shopping area, filled with great boutiques, and there are many restaurants within a very short walk as well.

What more can I say?  I will leave you with a picture of Amsterdam taken not far from our hotel (all photos in this post were taken by my wife Betty).  We loved the Andaz, we loved Amsterdam, and we are already making plans for a return trip!  If your travels take you to this vibrant and beautiful city, strongly consider staying at the Andaz.

Hotel Mansart, Part Deux

We’re back!  We had a very nice trip, and now that I’ve caught up on a few things at work, it’s time to blog about our trip to Paris and Amsterdam.  I’ll start with the hotels, and then I’ll do separate posts on advice for traveling to these two historic and always fun cities.

First hotel we stayed at was the 4-star Mansart in Paris’s 1st arrondissement.  While the skies outside were overcast as you can tell from the two pics below, the service inside the Mansart was anything but:  courteous, knowledgeable, and above all extremely friendly.

That’s my daughter and me in front of the hotel, which is around the corner from the Place Vendome below (photo of my wife and daughter in front of Napoleon’s column).

We loved the location because the hotel is very close to some terrific shopping streets with great boutiques, Eric Kayser’s bakery, the incomparable Jean-Paul Hevin’s chocolaterie, and just a five-minute walk to the Opera metro stop and the fabulous Galeries Lafayette department store, which has to be seen to be believed.  Just a few blocks south of the Mansart brings you to the Tuileries Gardens, the Orangerie museum, and the Pont de la Concorde bridge crossing over to the Left Bank.

The Mansart is not a large hotel, and perhaps because of that you can feel its intimacy and warmth — the things we liked most about our stay here.  There are many beautiful, large and impressive 4- and 5-star hotels that cannot match the level of service, the coziness of the breakfast nook, and the feeling of coming home after a long day tramping around the city that we felt at the Mansart.  When we needed to change money, Pushpa at the front desk knew just where to send us with the best rate in the neighborhood; when we asked for a nearby restaurant both he and his colleagues — all of whom spoke English fluently — gave us several excellent choices!

We stayed in a lovely room (photo above) on the third floor, with the bed set inside an alcove and a round wooden table in the middle of the room perfect for piling our coins, phones, books, and other trip paraphernalia.  Our room size was perfect; quite a bit bigger than a typical European hotel room.  The bathroom was also quite sizable, with heated floors and heated towel racks, especially nice on a cold blustery day at the end of a wintry March in Paris!  We loved the charming hallways, the laid-back feel of the lobby, and the delicious breakfasts with all manner of croissants, bread, cheese, creamy butters and jams, eggs and sausage and above all that bracing cup of coffee with steamed milk.

For a great 4-star in ultra-expensive Paris, the Mansart’s rates are reasonable; click here for their special offers.  All in all, between the location, the top-notch service and attention to detail, and the comfort and plushness of our room, I’d say that the Hotel Mansart is a keeper.  I have a feeling I’ll be staying here again.