Come out of Amsterdam’s Centraal railway station onto the Ij river (rather than the main square), and you’ll experience a thoroughly different part of the city. Here, instead of quaint canals lined with townhouses, you’ll find the modern quarter, with contemporary, edgy architecture that glistens in the sunlight as the water bounces off its facades. Room Mate Aitana faces the low-slung gull-like form of the Eye Film Institute just across the river.
The asymmetrical structure of the hotel doesn’t give away its hipster credentials, but the I-Dock restaurant terrace stretching out across the water certainly does. The architectural knowhow continues inside, where interior designer Tomas Alia’s deft touch is everywhere, beginning in an airy, chic reception area stretching away to a bar, lounge and restaurant filled with colour and unusual materials. Gold organic pillars that look like the giant alien spines dot the reception area, oversized blue glass pots and vases decorate the bar, and in the lounge, a huge wall in blue and white Perspex boldly references Dutch Delft crafts.
Each floor in The Aitana is themed by colour, so subtly and skilfully that we don’t notice our room is on the slick, but slightly dull, brown and beige floor. Everything in our large, bright room is perfect, from the space and 11th floor views to the toiletries supplied in little capped sachets (to cut down on unnecessary packaging). There’s a comb in a funky wrapper with ‘comb for sexy hair’ on it, a shaving kit is for ‘pirates’, and a dental kit for ‘monster’s teeth’. Designs lean on the right side of twee.
The overarching sense of space, water and light lifts the spirits. This rare combination of modern, functional and creative is refreshing, compared to the all to familiar boutiques that replicate the pages of Elle Deco magazine.
But such spaciousness comes at a price; The Aitana’s location is in no-man’s land, and just under a kilometre away from Centraal station. Getting to the museum and historic quarters is bit of a slog. The big sites, including the Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh museum, Stedelijk Museum, the heartbreaking but unmissable Anne Frank Huis, are at least a bus or tram ride away.
That said, you can be sipping a great coffee in the trendy Jordaan area in less than 10 minutes, and you won’t be stepping over stag parties to get back into your hotel in the early hours.
Those who set up camp in this vibrant hotel can admire the great views from the upper floors, and be served by some of the nicest, most efficient staff in the city.
Eating & Drinking
The buffet breakfast offers the standard spread of cereal, charcuterie, pastries and hot foods, all served on resin-dipped tables in the light-filled waterside and terrace restaurant. Amazingly, breakfast is served until noon. The rest of the time, the space is home to the I-Dock restaurant, which serves modern European dishes, including a tempting selection of salads and seafood, along with a pleasing ‘small bites’ menu of tapas-style snacks. The nearby Jordaan district, filled with young hipsters browsing the numerous gourmet food shops and vintages stores, has lots of great coffee shops and restaurants spanning the gamut of international cuisine, from sushi and beigels to Italian and Mexican.
Price: Rates for double rooms from £87 (€109).
Hotel address: IJDok 6, 1013 MM Amsterdam, + 0031 (0) 20 89 14 800, http://aitana.room-matehotels.com
Radio Times Travel rating 8/10 – a young, vibrant city hotel that literally turns its back on old Amsterdam.
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