A landmark 17th century building on one of Amsterdam’s oldest canals, last year, reopened its doors as Hotel The Craftsmen. After what was a year of extensive renovations, the luxury boutique hotel offers a unique design based on its rich history and craftsmanship.
The Craftsmen is spread over three historical canal houses at the Singel, which are together listed as a national monument dating from 1652. Roelof Swaen, deputy to legendary Dutch sea admiral Michiel de Ruyter, constructed the oldest of the three buildings in 1652. His ‘Huis de Swaen’ (The Swan) was initially a ferry house but was turned into a hotel in the nineteenth century. An original stone plaque on the sidewall of the building, shows a swan, referring to its historical name.
In 1917, an Amsterdam local by the name Brouwer bought Huis de Swaen and opened his hotel, aptly called Hotel Brouwer. Exactly 100 years later, the Brouwer heirs sold it to the current owners, the Zandbergen family. The latter took on the challenging task of turning the national monument into a luxurious boutique hotel.
During the extensive redesign, the original 17th-century architecture had to remain intact in accordance with the requirements of Amsterdam’s monument care. As a result, authentic elements were either preserved or meticulously restored. Any new design elements had to respect the distinct historical character and charm of the property.
For instance, it was stipulated that in some places within the hotel, the original features or elements had to be brought back. These can now be admired by guests staying at the hotel, including authentic bedsteads, a so-called ‘Keulse goot’ (a 17th-century indoor gutter) and Delft Blue tiles. The rich history is also reflected in the monumental staircase, the exposed beams and eaves, the original wooden floors and in the intimate and narrow hallways.
Michelle Zandbergen, daughter of the Zandbergen family and the one responsible for the day-to-day operation of the hotel, said: “Amsterdam has a wonderful history of craftsmanship, we want to bring that cultural heritage to life by not only creating a beautiful hotel, but also by letting the guests touch and feel the craftsmanship that is behind it. To achieve that we have combined the raw, authentic crafts that define this city with a modern, luxury boutique experience.”
The Zandbergen family turned to artist Stef van de Bijl, to re-imagine the hotel. He brought in more local craftsmen such as illustrator Aart Taminiau and steel designer Joram Barbiers.
With their collective expertise and craftsmanship, they have given antiques and curiosa, a contemporary and practical function within the hotel. Period delft blue tiles, bedsteads, monumental floors and the original staircase pair perfectly with beautiful antiques, vintage finds, modern materials and clever reuse of craft related items that the designers introduced to offer the comfort of today.
Amongst the unique elements are an old canoe serving as a ceiling lamp, a wardrobe made with the emergency exit door of a Fokker F28 jet airliner, and reclaimed aluminium shoe-stretchers from the 1940’s getting a second chance in life as wall mounted reading lights. Every corner, nook and cranny offers another design surprise.
The hotel offers fourteen distinct and well-appointed rooms. Each room’s design represents a local craft, and they are, therefore, named after prominent craftsmen – such as the Boat Builders Signature Suite, The Instrument Makers Single Room and the Bike Builders Deluxe Double Room.
Twelve of the fourteen hotel rooms boast impressive views of the Amsterdam canals. The other two are located at the back of the hotel and overlook the vibrant Lijnbaanssteeg alley. The rooms offer exquisite baths, Dyson hairdryers, comfortable beds and carefully selected amenities.
The breakfast, served in the art-filled gallery overlooking the canal, offers an extensive selection of freshly baked bread and pastries. Guests can further enjoy fresh cold cut fruits, fresh juices, teas and any coffee they like. They can also order eggs in any style or try warm Dutch traditional Poffertjes. These are “Dutch pancakes” that are fast becoming a favourite among the guests. The Zandbergen family has hand-picked receptionists, concierge and other staff to offer a personalised experience for their guests. The hotel’s ambassadors are the core of this experience, from hosting breakfast to providing tips and tailored recommendations for selective adventures in Amsterdam, the ambassadors are at the guests’ service.