Heineken, cyclists, tulips, the Red Light District, Van Gogh, liberal views, and the colourful herenhuizen lined up alongside the many canals; whatever comes to your mind when thinking about Amsterdam, it certainly is a city with lots on offer.
I was most fascinated by the canals and the fact that so many people get around on bikes. It really does match that image you conjure up when thinking about the Dam. There are literally bikes everywhere, and it seems everyone has one. Families even go out together for a ‘walk on wheels’ along the canals.
Amsterdam is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe and is slowly becoming even more popular globally, attracting an increasing number of visitors a year. 4.63 million International visitors is where it’s at currently, and for a city that isn’t overly huge, that’s a lot of people!
Two thirds of the city’s hotels are in the centre and Marriott Amsterdam, my next stop, is amongst them. Just a 15 minute walk to Dam Square or, if I don’t feel like walking, I could catch one of the funky trams this city is also famous for (in which case I’d get there in five minutes) and being just across the Leidseplein shopping and entertainment in the city centre, the location is hot.
When checking in, the receptionist asked if it was my first time in Amsterdam. I replied ‘Yes, and because it’s my first time, I should be given a nice room’. I was just being cheeky, but he surprised me by giving me a free upgrade from a Deluxe to an Executive and I was on the top floor. He obviously knew I have a thing about being high up. Loving the Dutch charm so far.
Service was swift and courteous throughout my stay. When I ordered room service, I asked how long it would be and was told ‘we make everything fresh so please allow 20 minutes’. And she wasn’t lying. My bread rolls were freshly made and delicious. The presentation of my fruit basket was gorgeous, with a colourful mix of kiwis, strawberries and orange. Quite Van Gogh.
My room was a good size, but not overly big, making me think about how much smaller the deluxe room must be. The signature Marriott red is continuous throughout the carpets, lifts and walkways. The lobby, however, adds a slightly contemporary twist to the authentic branding, with chic leather sofas and copper gold cushions. Although there is just the one restaurant here (the Steakhouse), room service is 24-hours and there is also a bar and lounge to chill out in. There is a 24-hr gym with a sauna, but sadly no spa. So, there’ll be no lazing about with bubbles at this hotel unfortunately.
My room had all the amenities, plus weighing scales, and the mini bar was stocked up, although a little tacky looking. Hairdryer, iron and safe were all conveniently placed and the bathroom was modern with an elegant black colour scheme. Oh, and the best thing was my satin-like slippers.
In a city where Van Gogh was inspired to create some of the best art known to man, the strokes and colours of the buildings today, the canals and its people are an inspiration to those that come here. The red Marriott sits in the middle of it all with its classy and artistic charm. This is the end of an era for me, and what a place to end my journey, besides some of the greatest art to have imitated life.