On the east side of the Daugava River sits the Old Town of Riga. A…
The Ambassade Hotel is synonymous with literature and art, and there really is no match for culture lovers looking for a wholesome place to stay that satisfies the mind, eyes, and stomach.
The hotel is striking from the moment you approach it, stretching across sixteen 17th century canal houses on Herengracht and Singel, the heart of old Amsterdam. It’s the epitome of romantic, with a view of the canal and colourful houses opposite.
It’s no surprise that the hotel was named one of the top five independent hotels in the world for art lovers when you step inside and start to notice the artwork. These are the first glimpses that make up the collection of 800 works by COBRA artists displayed here. These pieces include sculptures and paintings by artists such as Corneille Eugene Brands and Theo Wolvecamp.
This alone would make the Ambassade Hotel a worthy choice until you look left and catch a glimpse of The Library Bar which houses over five thousand signed books. This is not simply an impressive collection but a memento of every author who has stayed at the hotel.
You’ll even find a shelf of books where the hotel has been specifically mentioned showing how important this space is to the literary community and what an impression it makes.
The bar itself is a perfect place to while away the evening after exploring historic Amsterdam or indulging in a fabulous three-course dinner at the Brasserie Ambassade.
Staying at the Ambassade Hotel is a unique experience and can easily be considered an Amsterdam attraction in its own right. Find out what to expect from your stay at the Ambassade Hotel and what they offer specifically for art, literature, and history lovers.
A Cultural Haven in the Heart of Amsterdam
The location of the Ambassade Hotel is ideal for exploring the nearby museums of Amsterdam, in fact, you can reach almost anywhere within twenty minutes of walking or a shorter cycle.
Next to the famous Nine Streets area brimming with boutique shops, art galleries, and vintage stores, there’s no better location for exploring, and for those looking to do some book shopping, you’ll find Amsterdam’s best bookshops within a few minutes. You’re also on the doorstep of the romantic Jordaan District known for wonderful modern art galleries, speciality shops, and restaurants.
Some of the best places to visit nearby include:
Anne Frank House – One of those unmissable places to visit, here you’ll wander around the former space where Anne Frank and her family hid from the Nazis and learn about the events that lead up to her death. With interviews, excerpts from her diary and her original diary on display.
Woonbootmuseum – An unusual and unique visit, the Houseboat Museum lets you experience life on a houseboat set within a traditional cargo ship.
Gallery Vassie – A leading authority in the European fine art photography scene, this is a must-visit for lovers photography. The museum features a diverse collection of work from both key historical and established photographic artists.
Oudemanhuispoort – A must on any book-lover’s Amsterdam itinerary! ‘Old Man House’ is an ancient passage filled with stalls selling used books was once visited by Vincent Van Gogh. Make sure to take a peek at the beautiful courtyard through the windows.
Don’t forget to pick up some delicious waffles while you’re wandering
For those who want to enjoy a cultural and historical overview of Amsterdam, the hotel also offers tailored art and history tours with a guide. My guide, Michael, took me on a walking tour around the centre of Amsterdam meaning that I saw the highlights of the historical centre of the city.
Like all good guides, Michael shared his vast and encyclopedic knowledge of the area and pointed out things that I certainly would have missed. These cultural insights are priceless and the fact that this can be booked as part of your stay is incredibly convenient.
Staying at The Ambassade Hotel
Living in Luxury
Staying at the Ambassade Hotel is undoubtedly luxurious, the kind of place to stay for a special occasion or if you simply want to treat yourself. The service is top quality and the staff are genuinely interested in making your stay perfect, they’re also incredibly helpful if you want to know more about Amsterdam and are happy to book excursions and attractions for you.
The room is large with beautiful views and unique art above your bed. It’s perfect whether you want to relax, take a bath, or spend a few hours writing at your desk.
There are plenty of added extras you can request to meet you when you get there from champagne on arrival to chocolate in the room. If you’d like a relaxing experience while you’re here then don’t miss the opportunity to try floating or experience a relaxing massage at Koan Float which is just a few doors up from the hotel.
A Fine Dining Experience
Breakfast is served every morning in the beautiful Brasserie Ambassade which includes a continental breakfast with fresh coffee, tea, and juice as well as a choice from the menu. I couldn’t resist having eggs both days which were perfectly scrambled and poached and served alongside a range of sides like mushrooms or bacon. You can enjoy more COBRA art as you eat your breakfast and enjoy a morning view of the canal.
It’s also very worth having at least one dinner there as the menu is full of wholesome French classics and light dishes that are made with fresh produce. Even the table bread and butter were particularly moreish and difficult to resist.
I’d highly recommend the duck confit which it one of my favourite meals and didn’t disappoint and the salmon and avocado starter which was perfectly balanced in flavour.
With flares like vibrant pink beetroot powder garnish, the refined meals at Brasseries Ambassade are as pleasing to the eye as the stomach. You can view their menu online and make a booking even if you’re not staying at the hotel.
The Library Bar
A snug library bar with leather chairs surrounded by shelves lined with thousands of books sounds too good to be true, but, thankfully, the Ambassade Hotel Library Bar is available for anyone who wants to visit and enjoy the experience.
Like any good bar, the drinks menu is extensive with everything from coffees to cocktails, and a whiskey menu with options from Japan, Taiwan, Ireland to name but a few. Tables are also set up with backgammon and chess for a classic game of wits post-drink.
The hotel is a favourite among Dutch publishers who consistently book rooms for their authors here which explains why the cross-section of contemporary international literature displayed here is so dynamic and enlightening.
The guest book is well worth taking a look at with notes from writers such as Salman Rushdie, Isabel Allande, and John Le Carre.
As you might expect you’ll find select pieces of COBRA Artworks in the library and sitting unassumingly behind a glass case you’ll also see a gift from Rex Cowan who is known for salvaging Dutch East India Company shipwrecks. The oxidized wine bottle was salvaged from The Flying Deer Ship built in 1729 and still contains its contents.
Of course, the bookish experience doesn’t stop there. The hotel holds monthly literary salons where authors are interviewed or topical themes discussed in an intimate setting.
The experience is then followed up in the bar where you can get your book signed or mingle with everyone involved. The salons are free but you must reserve in advance as seats are claimed fast. A musical salon is also held three times a year in partnership with the Amsterdam Sinfonietta.
The hotel also manages a publishing company named Samsara where you can pick up a number of books in Dutch and some in English. One of the highlights is the introduction to COBRA artists which really helps you understand how special the hotel is from an artist’s perspective.
The hotel is also planning to open a bookshop named Samsara Books & Art which will be located right around the corner of the hotel. Being able to browse their books as part of your hotel experience is an exciting new additon to an already special literary hotel.
My stay at this special literary and art hotel is one that will stay with me for life, I’m very grateful for my chance to stay there and thank the Ambassade Hotel for hosting me for two nights.You can make a reservation with the Ambassade Hotel on their website.