During a four-day trip, I explored the streets and canals, the shops and museums, the cafes and nightspots of the “Venice of the North.” I had the good fortune to stay at The InterContinental Amstel, which opened in 1867 and has continued to hold claim as Amsterdam's grand dame. Known popularly as “The Amstel,” the hotel has 79 rooms, including 24 suites. The Amstel Lounge (see photo) is a light-filled conservatory for casual lunches; it is also where one can indulge in Amsterdam's most famous afternoon tea. (Locals often spend an entire leisurely weekend afternoon communing over the six courses of tea and assorted delectables.)
The hotel also features a wood-paneled Bar & Brasserie filled with light streaming in through floor-to-ceiling windows. In fine weather, the outdoor riverside terraces are the place to dine, just inches above water level, and watch boats passing a few feet away.
The Amstel's six banquet and meeting rooms, including a 2,000-square-foot ballroom with windows on three sides, can accommodate a meeting for 180, or a reception for 350. All meeting spaces have natural daylight.
When the meeting is over, all of Amsterdam is waiting for exploration, and much of it is within walking distance through charming streets and across the many canals. The world-famous Concertgebouw is home to the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, and the city's 37 museums include the Rijksmuseum, filled with the works of such Dutch masters as Rembrandt, Frans Hals, and Vermeer. One could easily spend an afternoon strolling through the “Nine Little Streets,” a shopping district filled with tiny shops, boutiques, and cafes.
The InterContinental Amstel also operates three century-old “classic salon boats,” the smallest of which accommodates 12 guests, the largest 24. The boats can be fully catered, so groups can enjoy anything from snacks and beverages, to a champagne reception, to a full dinner on board. It's a wonderful way to see the city, and a blissful end to the day.