Tried & Tested

Hotel check: Hotel Okura Amsterdam

1 May 2009 by Sara Turner

BACKGROUND Japanese group Okura Hotels and Resorts has 16 properties in Asia and one in Hawaii, with Hotel Okura Amsterdam the only European property, which opened in 1971.

WHAT’S IT LIKE? A member of the Luxury Hotels of the World, the 23-floor property is located in one of the city’s most affluent areas. The building rises high above the surrounding tenement blocks and can be picked out easily at night by its colourful lit roof. During my stay, the reception area in the lobby was being refurbished, so check-in was moved to the  basement.

The spacious lobby has a high ceiling and features a stunning lighting display that looks like an enormous delicate jellyfish. As you enter, to the right is a set of stairs which leads down to the basement, where there are shops, and up to the second-floor meeting and conference facilities. To the far right is the La Serre bar, to the left is Le Camelia Brasserie, where the buffet breakfast is served, and in the far left-hand corner is the entrance to two Japanese restaurants, Sazanka and Yamazato. There is a beautiful sculpture at this end of the lobby, of small white origami birds cascading from the ceiling.

WHERE IS IT? The hotel is about 15 minutes by bus or tram from the city centre and is easily accessible from the main train stations, which have frequent connections to Schiphol airport. Take tram 25 from Station Central or tram 12 from Station Amstel. It’s also well located for the recently expanded RAI convention centre and RAI train station – a ten-minute walk or a short hop on a bus.

ROOM FACILITIES I stayed in one of the recently refurbished Deluxe rooms on the seventh floor. The décor was fairly neutral, with a cream carpet, beige bedcover and cream patterned wallpaper combined with dark wood furniture and duck-egg blue curtains. Entering the room, to the left was a good-sized desk, next to the bed, and to the right was a dressing area with a wardrobe and full-length mirror. Further to the right was the door to the bathroom, next to a sideboard containing the minibar and safe. The television, on top of the sideboard, provided film and music on demand. A comfy reading chair with an ottoman was placed by the window.

Gadget fans might be pleased with the room management systems, which allow you to change the lighting, open and close the curtains, adjust the room temperature and set an alarm, all at the touch of a button.

The large marble-floored bathroom had two sinks side by side, in front of a window that covered the entire wall. (While it is great to have a stunning view of the city when relaxing in the bath, it leaves little privacy, so don’t forget to pull down the blinds.) It had a large walk-in shower and a bathtub with a TV screen on the wall in front.

RESTAURANTS AND BARS The dining options are superb, with the property holding three of the four Michelin stars in Amsterdam. The 23rd-floor Ciel Bleu restaurant, with two stars, serves French cuisine, while the one-star Yamazato serves Japan’s haute cuisine kaiseki ryori. But the options don’t end there – in the Sazanka teppanyaki restaurant, chefs prepare the food on a hot griddle before your eyes, while in Le Camelia Brasserie, as well as the breakfast, you can sample international cuisine for lunch and dinner. There is also a cocktail bar, Twenty Third, on the 23rd floor, with stunning views over the city. La Serre bar on the ground floor serves coffee, cocktails and light snacks. (To read more about the dining experience at Hotel Okura, and other restaurants in Amsterdam, click here.)

BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES The first floor of the hotel is dedicated to meetings, conferences and events, with 17 rooms and four foyers covering a total area of 2,800 sqm. The boardroom is ideal for a small meeting for up to 16 delegates, while the Grand Ballroom can host up to 1,200 people. Most rooms have natural light. In-room wifi internet access, which also covers the public areas, costs €10 for one hour, or €22 or €17 for 24 hours depending on speed and download capacity. A wifi card for a week is available for €108.

The Executive lounge, for guests staying in the Executive rooms on floors 17 to 22, has free internet access, computers, a TV and a meeting room, as well as snacks and drinks. Penfield's Business Centre is located in the basement but is not run by the hotel. It provides fax, internet, photocopying and secretarial services.

LEISURE FACILITIES Guests at Hotel Okura can use the Executive health club in the building next door, connected by an enclosed walkway, for €15 per day. Facilities include a gym, kinesis wall, spa bath, steam room and indoor swimming pool as well as Pilates and aqua aerobics lessons.

VERDICT The extensive meeting facilities and four restaurants make Hotel Okura a good choice for holding events or entertaining clients.

Fact file

HOW MANY ROOMS? There are 301 rooms, including 57 Executive rooms, 22 Executive Junior suites, 24 Junior suites, 42 Deluxe Junior suites and five other suites, including The Suite, an opulent 485 sqm space with a dining room, two bedrooms, two lounges and an overflowing bath with chromatherapy system. The conversion of the 26 sqm Standard rooms into larger, 39 sqm Deluxe rooms is ongoing.

ROOM HIGHLIGHTS The tech-savvy room management system and the views of Amsterdam.

PRICE Internet rates for a midweek stay in June started from €273 for a Standard room and €367 for a Deluxe room.

CONTACT Hotel Okura Amsterdam, Ferdinand Bolstraat 333; tel +31 20 678 7111;

Sara Turner

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