When you talk about Amsterdam’s Pulitzer Hotel, you have to take Amsterdam Pride out of the equation. Because come Amsterdam Pride, it is the only place to be. The deck right on the canal goes up, the drinks are served, the parade on the canal passes by within touching distance, the nibbles come round and all is good with the world. Seriously, if you’re going to Amsterdam Pride next year, book now.
So, Pride out of the picture, how does this deceptively sprawling little hotel shape up in real life? A couple of friends watching the Pride parade from across the canal over rows and rows of heads (the suckers!) said, ‘Oh, isn’t it small!’ But they were only looking at a bit of it. The hotel is, in fact, made up of many canal buildings – 25 in fact, all from the 17th and 18th centuries with a bit of new tacked on – fused together with walkways running between them so that you have the best of both worlds: a hotel that feels boutique but with plenty to get stuck into.
You’ll know as you pass the perfect brickwork and the hanging flags on the outside that you’re in for a treat but inside it’s all antique pictures, nests of seating, a dark, cosy atmosphere and a buzz. It’s one of the few hotels, you see, where they can balance cosy and buzzy. Old-school and up-to-date. Give them a beach ball and they can probably balance that as well.
Three little brass lifts take you from reception up to landings that, again, feel like you’re in a cute little hotel somewhere. The art on the walls repeats the message that there is something old and something new here. Something classic, something funky.
And the rooms broadcast the same message. With one wall that has gone nautical with a brass porthole into the bathroom and a brass ship’s light on tongue and groove, the rest of the room is all fashionable gem velvets, quirky headboards, antique-looking dressing tables and mid-century mod chrome lamps available for just shy of €1000 in the Home Shop. So perfectly balanced!
But it’s downstairs that the scale of the Pulitzer comes into its own. Oh and it’s named for the founder, grandson of the Pulitzer Prize, by the way. Past the reception, you have a cute bar with tables where you can have breakfast and lunch and beyond that a courtyard with more tables. Walk through the glassed-in walkway and there’s another courtyard on the right, perfect for sunny-day lunches. Then through, past the art, turn, turn again, and again… and you’re in the in-house restaurant Jansz. With a full stop and everything.
Now Jansz. you can get into from the street, just like it was any other restaurant but staying at the Pulitzer you do feel a certain amount of ownership. Well, you had your breakfast here in these sunny rooms, either the champagne and fruit and meats and cheeses that are laid out or the avocado on toast and overnight oats that are on the a la carte. Again the vibe is classic but twisty: traditional furniture, funky art; old pictures, Tom Dixon lighting.
Come lunchtime, you can sit out in the courtyard and be plied with wines that they let you taste in advance (sorry, but that’s exciting!) and have a casual menu of oysters with cava or shrimp croquettes or steak and fries or pea ravioli.
Add to all this the fact that they are very cleverly located right between two canals in the UNESCO World Heritage site known as Nine Streets neighbourhood with Prik, the main gay bar a ten-minute walk away. You see, UNESCO World Heritage and rowdy gay bars. It’s called balance!