Words by Sarah Kelleher
Upon first glancing at my map, the city of Amsterdam appeared as a spider’s web, with rows of interlocking canals. And the Dylan, situated on the Keizersgracht, is very nearly at the heart of the web, in a series of tall row houses overlooking the canal of the same name. Something about the lofty windows set into the front of the hotel suggested that I might be in for a treat of a view when the sun came up, but as I’d arrived in the dark I had to content myself with exploring the inside of the hotel instead.
Fortunately, the Dylan’s interior is at least as beautiful and fascinating as the outside of historical Amsterdam. The building was originally the site of a theatre, the Duytsche Acadamie, which played host to many illustrious figures down the years, including Vivaldi, the Prince of Orange, the King of Poland and the Russian Tsar. In 1772, the theatre succumbed to fire, and the site was sold to one of the Regents of the Roman Catholic Church charities, known as the Old & Poor People’s Office, until 1999, when the building was re-opened as a luxury boutique hotel. The Dylan now offers five different styles of room – Serendipity, Loxura, Klassbol, Kimono and Loft. There is an interior to fit the taste of any hotel guest, from the grey and red striped décor of the Klassbol rooms, which marries modernity and classicism, to the luxuriously modern Serendipity collection, which was designed in partnership with acclaimed interior architect Remy Meijers.
On my way to my room I was taken through the lounge area for the guests with wood panelling and a warmly crackling fire in the grate, and Bar Brasserie Occo where breakfast for the hotel’s guests is served, and which is also open all day to guests and non-guests. Up and up we went to the top of the hotel; I was convinced that there couldn’t be any further to go but when the door to my room was opened, a short flight led to a delightful loft space, which spanned the width of the roof of the hotel. Beautifully lit, with natural tones and sloping ceilings, the loft was divided into three spaces using furniture rather than walls and included a bathroom, a sitting room area and a snowy white bed in the centre of the space. What better invitation to sleep could there be than this?
In the morning, feeling thoroughly refreshed, I was pleased to find that I had been right: the view from the room was lovely. On the one side, the windows looked over the hotel courtyard, which offers outdoor seating in the spring and summer. On the other, I could see a patchwork of the sharply gabled rooves so typical of Amsterdam’s old city skyline. Breakfast was served, and I was able to eat my (delicious) Eggs Florentine and enjoy my coffee in peace, whilst admiring the blend of historical and modern interior design characteristic of the hotel, which was showcased by the gleaming brickwork floor, wooden ceiling beams, and wire-hung light fixtures.
After a long day’s exploring in and around the canals, I was glad to return to The Dylan for dinner at Bar Brasserie Occo; it must be said that the hotel is perfectly located near to any number of Amsterdam highlights, from the Rijksmuseum to the old town. The Dylan actually has two restaurants: Occo, and the Michelin-starred Vinkeles. The two restaurants mirror both sides of the hotel – while Occo is warmly smart-casual, with a sleek curved bar illuminated by a brass light fixture, Vinkeles is more formal, set in a sunken dining room with 18th century cast iron ovens that once served as the bakery for the Catholic Poor People’s Office set into the walls and traditional/ modern French cuisine.
As I gratefully sipped on my Aurora Borealis cocktail, with a raspberry hue as pretty as its name, I was able to peruse the Occo menu at my leisure, which features a blend of continental and world cuisine. My starter was a flavoursome and creamy oyster mushroom soup and guinea fowl confit with a goat’s cheese crostini. Although seriously tempted by the burger, I eventually decided on the weaver fish special for my main, and was not disappointed when it arrived; the fish was succulent and served with perfectly cooked asparagus. A sweet toffee pudding with honeycomb ice cream was a fitting end note to the meal, and my stay in Amsterdam. It was an experience made all the better by the impeccable service I enjoyed at the Dylan, and I cannot think of anyone whose trip to this beautiful city would not be improved by enjoying all that this hotel has to offer.