Amsterdam InterContinental Hotel InterContinental Hotels Group

A History of Wellness at Amsterdam InterContinental Amstel Hotel

InterContinental Amstel Hotel in Amsterdam is an historic property purposefully built in 1867 as a luxury hotel for the city on the east bank of the Amstel River in central Amsterdam. The current hotel ranks regularly in the Top Ten of hotels in Amsterdam as ranked on TripAdvisor (#8 at time of post). In my opinion, the stand alone presence of Amstel Hotel on the riverbank places it in position as the ‘Grande Dame’ of Amsterdam hotels.

Amstel Hotel ext-1

The Amstel Hotel project was the idea of Dr. Samuel Sarphati 1813-1866, a descendent of 17th century Portuguese Sephardi Jews religious refugees to Amsterdam. Dr. Sarphati was a leading activist for the city’s poor and developed into a city planner during his life with an aim to improve the public health of the city. His projects included public health improvements within Amsterdam for waste disposal and transport and bread factories to supply consistently good quality, low cost bread.

Amstel Sapharti

Amstel Hotel was Dr. Sarphati’s second large construction project in Amsterdam. Sarphati visited London and saw the 1851 Great Exhibition Crystal Palace, the largest building in the world constructed from prefabricated glass. He created a company in 1852 to build a similar type of glass palace for Amsterdam.

“Paleis voor Volksvlijt” – Palace for Industry of the People.

The Palace for Industry of the People opened August 16, 1864. The grand palace featured a glass dome and hundreds of arched windows. The Palace for Industry burned down in 1929. An etching of the Palace can be seen in this link to Getty Images.

Dr. Sarphati died during the construction of the Amstel Hotel. Financial issues limited the hotel to only half of its originally planned size.

Amstel Hotel entrance

InterContinental Amstel Hotel front entrance.

Amstel Hotel staircase

Grand Stairway Amstel Hotel.

InterContinental Amstel is a relatively small, boutique hotel with only 55 Executive rooms and 24 suites. Entry level room rates frequently top $400 to $500 per night much of the year. Finding award availability can also be a challenge, yet a relative bargain at 50,000 points per night. A check of availability shows only 35 dates with reward nights between March and August 2016 with 60% of those dates in July and August.


We were greeted at the door after a quick two-stop Metro ride to Wesperplein from Nieuwmarkt Station, over by the Radisson Blu Amsterdam where we had stayed the previous two nights. We walked about 200 meters to the hotel. Our luggage was taken by bellmen and we were escorted to a check-in table to the left of the front doors.

There were no other guests checking into Amstel Hotel at 2:00pm in the afternoon and there seemed to be four to six people focused on us. Drinks were offered, identifications checked, credit card imprinted and loads of information about the hotel imparted before we were off to our room.

The two elevators on either side of the hotel lobby had lovely cushioned benches inside. There are four guest floors and the –1 level goes to the pool, spa and fitness center at river level.

Amstel Hotel elevator

Bench, lamp and paintings in historic elevators of Amstel Hotel.

Our room was located on the top floor on the side of the hotel looking east, over the entrance, and not an Amstel River facing view. I did not expect as much as a free river view upgrade on a free IHG reward night. We still were quite impressed with the size of the room. Kelley adored the décor. I have fond memories of slanted walls of a European top floor flat from when I was a nine-year old kid living in West Germany on a walk up fourth floor, top-floor 8-bedroom apartment for a couple of months. My parents loved it when we were reassigned military housing on the second floor.

Amstel room-desk

InterContinental Amstel Hotel desk and minibar cabinet.

Amstel Hotel Room door    Amstel Hotel entry room

For the spatially curious, the front door view is straight on view of desk when you enter room. The presence of ceramics and so much space in a non-traditional hotel room is not too common in Amsterdam hotels.

Amstel Hotel chair

Comfortable cushion chair and sound system TV with a wall extender to move it out and 90 degrees to face bed.

Amstel Hotel bed

While close examination of some aspects of the décor showed wear and tear, the overall effect is impressive. Drawers were filled with useful items, like emergency lights for hotel evacuation. Books were all Dutch language as I recall, except four volumes of Victor Hugo in French.

Amstel Hotel view

InterContinental Amstel Hotel view looking east, away from Amstel River.

Ever since going to Leiden In January, I now think all large trees I see around Amsterdam are Dutch Elms. They might or might not be elms in the window view?

Amstel Hotel bathroom-1

The hotel website describes Executive rooms as having two windows. In the case of our room the second window was located in the shower and actually opened, although a little too public for our manners.

Amstel Hotel tub   Amstel Hotel shower-window

Amstel Hotel toilet   Amstel Hotel room size

Amstel Hotel bath amenities   Amstel Hotel bath counter

The bathroom offered a separate toilet room on opposite side of room from shower.

The Illy coffee machine only had a few pods. I learned from my trip to Amsterdam three weeks before that I frequently ran out of coffee in the morning. I packed ground coffee and filters to make my own coffee after the coffee pods were gone (in about one real cup of coffee).

Amstel Hotel Coffee   Amstel minibar

Mini-bar refrigerator was stocked, but not electronic, so moving stuff to make space was no problem.

No ice machines on hotel floors, but a call to room service and a ice bucket soon arrived. No charge.

Turndown Service

In the evening we returned to a tidied room with a bed turndown service.

Amstel turndown   Amstel turndown-2

Amstel turndown-4   Amstel turndown-3

Amstel Hotel has a long history as a spa and wellness destination. The fitness center and indoor pool with Amstel River views was one of the hotel highlights for me. We had good intentions to try the hotel restaurant, but late mornings and other evening activities prevented a restaurant meal at the hotel.

I’ll follow up in the next post on InterContinental Amstel Hotel Amsterdam with photos of pool, fitness center and more interior and exterior hotel views.


  • ThomasK March 5, 2016

    refreshing and interesting read. Thank you!

  • Raffles March 7, 2016

    In my experience they often open up reward nights at short notice, possibly when they are almost full and can get the rull rate back from IHG! I stayed there 2 years ago, booked on the day, and got a suite.

    Went again last year, booked earlier, and found I was sharing the hotel with Paul McCartney.

  • Deb March 9, 2016

    Interesting stuff, as I’m a city planner (as well as points enthusiast). I’ll be staying there in a couple of weeks (booked before reward nights went up to 50k). Very cool!

  • […] reviewed the InterContinental Amstel hotel room for our stay in this post last week – A History of Wellness at Amsterdam InterContinental Amstel Hotel. That post is mistitled since I focused on Dr. Sapharti, the hotel’s founder and never really […]

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