Prized place in history: The famous Pulitzer Amsterdam

Jansz - Pulitzer Amsterdam
Jansz - Pulitzer Amsterdam

This relaxed haven of quintessential Dutch elegance offers much more than a luxe place to slumber – it’s a place of rich history and discovery

Tasked with completely reinventing the famous Pulitzer Amsterdam in 2016, celebrated London designer Jacu Strauss chose to totally immerse himself in the project by making the Dutch capital his home for a time. The goal was to authentically express the canal city’s eclectic energy and distinctive aesthetic in the redesign and restoration he masterminded for the revered hotel, which was Amsterdam’s first five-star property when it opened in 1970.

“I wanted to live and breathe the task,” explains Strauss. “I wanted to understand not just the building but Amsterdam itself and its energetic mix of people.” What Strauss boldly and inventively crafted was a relaxed haven of quintessential Dutch elegance that seamlessly championed four centuries of architectural heritage, and the latest in northern European style and design.

Stay in the Canal Houses of Amsterdam

It wasn’t just one building Strauss had to reimagine. The multi-award-winning Pulitzer Amsterdam embraces no less than 25 restored, gabled – and interconnected – canal houses dating back to the Dutch Golden Age in the 17th Century. Each guestroom was conceived to echo the historic house in which it is located and the people who lived in them. As a result, each of the 223 sumptuous rooms is unique and, like the richly fashioned public areas, filled with a carefully curated mix of bespoke furniture, vintage pieces and lush, beautiful artwork – all purposed to reflect traditional Dutch craftmanship.

Pulitzer Amsterdam is today a fascinating maze of elegantly lavished spaces, corridors and glass-encased walkways through tranquil, hidden gardens bookended by two of Amsterdam’s famed canals – the Prinsengracht and Keizersgracht. All this in the very heart of the city’s World Heritage listed Old Town, with its lively streets, chic boutiques and cosy cafes, and Anne Frank House just a few steps away. Rather than just another luxe place in which to rest and indulge, the Pulitzer is a veritable treasure chest of discovery brimming with history and intrigue.

Rich Heritage

In the late 1960s, Peter Pulitzer, the grandson of newspaper magnate and Pulitzer Prize founder Joseph Pulitzer, saw great potential in the beautiful but dilapidated canal houses of Amsterdam and purchased and restored a collection of them to create the Pulitzer Amsterdam – architectural wizardry which Jacu Strauss refined further in 2016 to fully express the rich heritage of the prized hotel.

My Classic King Room with Canal View overlooks the lovely Keizersgracht Canal, which is plied by two of the hotel’s own canal boats, and is located in the Saxenburg House, built in 1615 by a barley merchant and thought to be one of the places in which Rembrandt painted. I ponder my place amongst such illustrious history as I sip tea by the window and watch a peaceful procession of boats on the canal below.

My airily spacious and luxuriously appointed room is graced by exposed, age-old wooden beams that would be even more alluring if they could talk! My luxe, cloud-inspired, gable-headboarded bed is hard to get out of in the morning and the calming scents of fragrance house DS & Durga emanate from the deluxe amenities in the marble bathroom. There are complimentary Dutch treats to relish and quirky touches like a vintage dial phone and bike repair kit – a nod to Amsterdam’s status as the bicycle capital of the world. So ‘when in Rome’…..I grab one of the hotel’s hire bikes and cycle aimlessly through the city’s labyrinth of canal-lined lanes, captivated by the grace and charm of the city.

Restaurant and bar

This soothing fusion of grace and charm permeates the Pulitzer’s art-filled public spaces. It would be so easy for a place of such rich history and sophisticated luxury to feel stifling, but the ambience throughout the hotel is one of effortless and relaxed elegance, echoed by the impeccably charming staff for whom nothing is too much trouble.

Before dinner, I nestle in an inviting armchair by a canal-view window, cocktail in hand, in the hotel’s elegant, art deco-styled Pulitzer Bar – an institution in Amsterdam that wonderfully captures the city’s playful spirit. The laidback vibe flows next door into Restaurant Jansz, once the home of 17th century craftsman, Volkert Jansz, a man noted for his discerning taste, eye for style and passion for scintillating conversation and debate.

Jansz embraced the finer things in life but also believed that decadence and luxury were more enjoyable when shared. That spirit lives on in the restaurant’s devotion to elegant, culinary craftsmanship that showcases classic European dishes that respect the simplicity of quality, local produce and ingredients. A delectable meal of Dutch oysters, sole meuniere and an assortment of Dutch cheese (of course!), accompanied by French chardonnay enchants my palate. I take a post-dinner stroll along the canals in the lingering 10pm summer daylight to digest the feast of fine fare before retiring to my gracious canal house room for the night, window open so I can hear the rippling water of the canal.

The soul of Amsterdam

Next morning, I take the wood-panelled lift to the hotel’s excellent, two-storey gym (graced by a wooden staircase) for some exercise, and enjoy a vast spread of choices for breakfast back in light-filled Restaurant Jansz. It’s with reluctance that I leave the warm embrace of the Pulitzer, now confident that designer Jacu Strauss, through his inspired fusion of history and understated opulence, fulfilled his intention of encapsulating the soul of Amsterdam in the very heart of the city.

What’s New

In recent months, Pulitzer Amsterdam has unveiled a new luxury day spa in another historic canal house and also three new, luxury, over-sized, canal-fronting suites, each with a theme – tulips, porcelain or merchantry.

Rooms start from around AUD$800 per night.

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