Tried & Tested

Hotel check: Hotel Pulitzer

1 Sep 2006 by business traveller

What's it like? This is one of those hotels that needs to be seen to be believed. The Pulitzer is a 25-strong collection of 17th and 18th century townhouses, combined through a series of walkways, gardens, lifts and staircases to create a truly unique five-star property which is part of Starwood's Luxury Collection.

Where is it? In the heart of the Jordaan district of Amsterdam. The entrance to the hotel is on Prinsengracht, a two-minute walk from Westermarket tram stop, which in turn is a 10-minute tram ride from the main Centraal train station, with frequent trains to Schiphol airport. Alternatively, a taxi costs around €40 from the airport to the hotel, or €10 from Centraal Station.

How many rooms? 230, of which 170 are deluxe, 54 are executive, three are junior suites, and three are suites.

Room facilities There are guestrooms in all of the 25 buildings, and many of them are a fair walk from reception, which depending on how you look at it is either a hassle or a chance to admire the hotel's interior. If you have children, don't let them play hide and seek in this hotel, as it's unlikely you will ever set eyes on them again. I enjoyed getting as lost as possible, and was rewarded with grand staircases, huge wooden doorways, silent corridors and continually changing decor. I have no idea what part of the hotel I ended up in, and certainly wouldn't be able to find it again, but signs towards reception are never far away. What I do know is that my room was located in the Saxenburg house (originally at 224 Keizersgracht), reached by lift D – there is no central lift system, so make sure you listen
carefully to the receptionist when they give you directions to your rooms, otherwise you are just as likely to end up in the gym as you are your room.

The first thing to note about rooms at the Pulitzer is that "standard" means very little here. Due to the nature of the property (or properties), rooms have any number of views, levels and size variations. Personally I found this all part of the hotel's charm, but corporate groups looking to book several rooms should be aware that practically no two rooms are alike. Even the floors vary from wooden in those at the front of the hotel, to carpeted at the back. Many of the rooms are hung with artwork by Dutch artists, and decor is elegant, with dark wood furniture and emerald greens and deep reds being the theme. You'll be hard pushed to find a room without a great view, ranging from beautiful canals on Prinsengracht and Kiezersgracht, to the internal gardens and peaceful side streets.

One thing that is consistent throughout is the facilities – all rooms have king-sized beds, satellite TV with pay movies, Bose radio, air conditioning, minibar, complimentary mineral water, safe, hairdryer, workdesk, and wired or wifi internet access (charged at €5 per hour or €19 for 24 hours – this charge also applies for wifi access in the public areas of the hotel). There was no iron/ironing board in my room, nor were there any tea/coffee making facilities, but I was advised that both could be provided if requested.

Bathroom facilities are also standard – one of the requirements of the Luxury Collection brand is the provision in all rooms of extensive own-brand amenities including shower gel, shampoo, conditioner, body lotion, bath salts, shoe mitt, sewing kit, shower cap, make-up remover, manicure set and bathrobe and slippers. As you would expect from a five-star hotel there is a turndown service and complimentary newspaper each morning, and the hotel also provides a daily card for guests detailing the weather forecast and a fact of the day (it was the 400th anniversary of the birth of Rembrandt the day I arrived).

Restaurants and bars The restaurant is located at the back of the hotel, and is also attached to the internal gardens, where guests can choose to take breakfast and evening meals. I walked past the gardens early one evening and was greeted with a mouthwatering smell from the hotel's barbecue. The main dining area (where the excellent breakfast buffet is also located) has an enormous painting on one of its walls by French artist Thierry de Cromieres. Inspired by famous Dutch painter Frans Hals, it is a fascinating mixture of old and new – at first glance it looks like a 17th century banquet scene, but further inspection reveals characters wearing sunglasses, talking on mobile phones and snacking on packets of M&Ms – a great way to pass the time while tucking into your croissant. The adjacent Pulitzer bar is a plush, cosy area open from 5pm to 1am, and there is an overspill room called the Pharmacy, which is available for private dining.

Business and meeting facilities There are 10 meeting and conference rooms, ranging in size from the Art Deco Tuinzaal garden room, holding up to 200 people for a cocktail reception, down to the Secretary room, which accommodates four boardroom-style. All rooms have natural daylight, air conditioning and wifi internet access, and many still have their original decor such as the baroque Saxenburgzaal room, which holds up to 80 people theatre-style. There is a small business centre next to the lobby area, open 24 hours and with facilities such as fax, printing and photocopying available, and in addition there is an internet terminal in the lobby, charged at Euros 2.5 for 15 minutes.

Leisure facilities The hotel has a modern gym overlooking Reestraat, a quiet side street with boutiques and restaurants. Equipment includes a treadmill, cross trainer and two exercise bikes, all with LCD entertainment screens, as well as a rowing machine and free weights. The beautiful gardens of the Pulitzer (separating the houses on the Prinsengracht from those on the Keizersgracht) are a lovely way to while the afternoon away. Or, if you fancy taking to the water then the hotel has its own canal boat for hire, accessible from the jetty outside the hotel entrance. There's an art gallery in one of the covered walkways, with regularly changing works by contemporary local artists.

Verdict A fascinating hotel in a beautiful location. It's not for guests who are looking for consistency in room sizes or short walks to their rooms, but for anyone else the Pulitzer is a charming hotel and history lesson to boot.

Prices Best flexible internet rate for a midweek stay in early September started at €284 for a deluxe room (room only) and €345 for an executive room including breakfast.

Contact Hotel Pulitzer, Prinsengracht 315-331, tel +31 20 523 52 35,

Mark Caswell

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