Conservatorium: Inside Amsterdam’s Dazzling Design Hotel

By Ellie Smith

2 months ago

What to expect at the Dutch grand dame

For a long time, Amsterdam was known as Europe’s most liberal party capital: home to the Red Light District, and a hotspot for stag dos. But in recent years, the Dutch capital has been working hard to shake its hedonistic reputation and instead showcase its chic, classy side – the boutique hotels, beautiful architecture, historic museums and buzzy restaurants. Nowhere is this demonstrated better than at the Conservatorium Hotel, an ultra-sleek property nestled in the heart of the city’s upmarket Museum Corner.

Review: Conservatorium Hotel, Amsterdam


Part of The Set Collection (which also includes Hotel Cafe Royal in London), the Conservatorium Hotel is housed inside a grand building with a long and storied history that dates back to 1897. It was originally a bank, then a music school, and nods to its past are dotted throughout – stone pigs are carved into the staircase to symbolise piggy banks, for instance, and there’s a large artwork featuring a collection of guitars hanging from the ceiling. 

Conservatorium Amsterdam

Italian interior architect Piero Lissoni spearheaded the hotel’s design, upholding the original gothic feeling of the building while adding new elements to give it a contemporary look. It’s a prime example of Lissoni’s signature style: seamless, stylish and muted, with pops of colour to break up the predominantly neutral tones. The glass-enclosed, central lobby is a sight to behold, with floor-to-ceiling windows allowing sunshine to flood in. It’s a majestic setting, and attracts a string of cosmopolitan Dutch locals as well as hotel guests.

All 129 rooms follow a similarly elegant aesthetic, with a minimalist feel, brushed oak floors and an autumnal palette. There are a wide range of different room categories, ranging from the entry level Superior Guestroom to a collection of incredible Signature Suites. Spread across three floors and boasting its own rooftop terrace, the ‘I Love Amsterdam Suite’ is surely up there with the city’s most luxurious. We stayed in a Grand Junior Suite, a spacious room with a living area and a huge marble bathroom, complete with a deep soak tub and a rainfall shower. Many suites are split-level, and have space for a child as well as two adults.

Conservatorium Amsterdam


The hotel is home to an award-winning, subterranean Akasha spa, which was sadly undergoing a renovation during our stay. When it reopens, guests will have access to a sauna, a jacuzzi, private hammam for scrubs and massages, and the city’s only watsu pool, a type of therapy pool filled with hydro-treatments (in the meantime, the hotel can arrange for you to visit a nearby spa free of charge). There’s also a large, well-equipped gym, plus studios offering a variety of classes, from Pilates and meditation to yoga and HIIT.

It’s a treat to have access to such top-tier wellness facilities – but ultimately Amsterdam is a city for exploring, and you couldn’t be better placed for this here. Although it has a relaxed feel, the hotel is located right in the hub of the city, with the Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum and Stedelijk Museum one on one side, and one of the city’s most famous shopping streets on the other (often dubbed Amsterdam’s Fifth Avenue). Vondelpark is also just down the road – and no trip here is complete without a scenic boat trip down its world-famous canals, a great way to get a real sense of the city. You’re also in walking distance of De Pijp, one of Amsterdam’s coolest neighbourhoods.

Conservatorium Amsterdam


There are two restaurants: an Asian-inspired eatery called Taiko, and a recently opened Mediterranean spot, Barbounia. The former is located in what used to be the music school’s drum room (hence its name, which is inspired by a particular Japanese drum), with photos of musical icons like John Lennon lining the walls. Guests can opt for the omakase tasting menu, or a la carte dishes including Alaska black cod, szechuan Dutch lamb, char sui monkfish, and plenty of sushi.

Barbounia, meanwhile, is located within the main atrium, open all day from breakfast through to dinner. Being right in the heart of the hotel, it has a buzzy vibe, with floor-to-ceiling windows allowing natural light to flood in, with dishes drawing on the cuisines of France, Italy and Greece. Begin with a selection of sharing plates: there’s burrata with tomatoes and blood orange; chraimeh (a spicy tomato stew); fried calamari; rock oysters and beef carpaccio. For the mains, choose from an array of pasta, fish and meat – highlights include a perfectly executed vodka pasta, grilled salmon with caponata, beef cheek with saffron risotto, and chicken paillard with parsley and lemon. Everything tastes fresh, light and healthy, and it’s clear the ingredients are all top-quality.

It’s also worth popping into Taiko’s bar for a cocktail. It serves twists on classics, jazzed up with Asian ingredients: the Thai Smash is made with Roku gin, Thai basil and Kiwi foam, while the Pandan Sgropino is made with coconut rum and yuzu sake. If you’re lucky, the bar might be hosting one of its jazz nights, which take place every third Thursday of the month.

Conservatorium Amsterdam


With its striking interiors, sophisticated vibe and unbeatable location, The Conservatorium is easily one of Amsterdam’s best hotels. The service is genuine and attentive, and the hotel has a cool, laid-back feel, which is a nice respite from the madness of the ever-bustling city. It feels worlds away from the city’s cliches of sex shops and space cakes – a prime example of the new Amsterdam.