For me, it's always a delight when I find a hotel that allows me to feel like I'm outdoors while still enjoying the luxury of a boutique property. That's what I found at Hotel Pulitzer in the old quarter of Amsterdam. Basically down the street from the Anne Frank House and overlooking two scenic canals, Prinsengracht and Keizersgracht, the location can't be beat.
But one of the things that makes this property so endearing is that the hotel is made up of 25 merchant houses that date from the 17th and 18th centuries. They're all connected by a series of mostly glass-enclosed corridors that lead to my favorite hotel feature: several leafy courtyards.
As I roamed around the hotel, I strolled along corridors that zigged and zagged, and then climbed up and down short sets of sometimes steep stairs, all understandable given the different character of the more than two dozen different structures that comprise this eccentric but elegant accommodation. The rooms in the front of the property have wood floors and low ceilings and are completely different from those in the rear which come with wall-to-wall carpeting and high ceilings.
For those who love sunlight like me, room #326 will be your favorite -- you've got a view down into one of the garden courtyards and the light simply pours in.
A good way to start the day is to visit the hotel's espresso shop for a cappuccino. (You can imagine my surprise when I didn't have to ask for skin milk; that's all they serve!) Then take your steaming cup into the light-filled leafy courtyard that has a pergola draped with wisteria, stone benches, bronzes and a water feature. I sat at one of the tall tables and planned out my day from my perch.
Across the corridor from this courtyard is a shady garden with ivy coated tree trunks and tulips. From here you have a good view of the church at the rear of the property. This garden is usually peaceful unless there is a group of business people hosting a breakfast meeting there. (Luckily, I had the place to myself.)
Interestingly, the corridors also double as mini-art galleries displaying some contemporary works by local artists.
The breakfast buffet is a real treat with an array of different breads, cheeses, fresh fruits, smoked fish, yogurts and more. But, among these offerings, I most enjoyed the creamy yogurt that came in small glass jars. This was an organic yogurt and I have to say one of the tastiest yogurts I've ever sampled. Of course, eating breakfast next to the glass windows overlooking the canal front where you can see the sitting waking up and locals pedals past made it all the more picturesque.
The restaurant, Keizergracht 238, also serves lunch and dinner and is most noted now for it's grilled dishes -- they even cook everything on a lava grill. From grilled halibut and king prawns to grilled veal and corn-fed chicken breast, they've got something for everyone. (And they even label their menu with low-cal and low-fat options -- something I don't often find on my European travels.) In nice weather you can enjoy a meal in one of the courtyards.
Hotel Pulitzer -- named for the owner whose great great grandfather established the eponymous prize -- is loaded with history. Part of the hotel is an old pharmacy with the interior dating to the early 19th century. And, should you want to hop aboard a boat for a canal cruise, the hotel has their own teak and brass vessel dating from 1909 and the same boat that Winston Churchill once traveled in when he visited Amsterdam.
I can't wait to return to Amsterdam and stay a few more days at the Hotel Pulitzer. Once you stay there, it's hard to stay anywhere else in the city.