Hotel review: Sofitel Legend The Grand Amsterdam

Wednesday newsletters always feature a luxury hotel and/or flight review.

Today (March 11, 2015): Review of the Sofitel Legend The Grand Amsterdam (Netherlands).

Sofitel Legend The Grand Amsterdam stands out among 5-star luxury hotels in the Dutch capital.  The history of this iconic hotel is deeply entwined with the city’s past. After a meticulous renovation of $80 by French designer Sybille de Margerie, it became a place of hospitality, art and culture, housing 177 rooms including 52 suites. With the Michelin star restaurant Bridges, a Parisian themed bistro, Amsterdam’s first Raw Bar, a Vinothèque, the Library ‘Or’ and a brown café, this is definitely the perfect spot for the discerning business traveller or for a luxury stay in Amsterdam.

Sofitel Legend The Grand Amsterdam features in my top 10 list of the best luxury hotels in Amsterdam.

In this review (more info below my Youtube clip & slideshow):

  • Pros & things I like
  • Cons & things to know
  • My verdict
  • Tips for future guests & save money
  • Best time to visit
  • How to get there

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PROS & THINGS I LIKE
  • The hotel enjoys a terrific location in the heart of Amsterdam, within walking distance of the city’s major attractions, such as the Royal Palace on Dam Square. For those coming by train, the Central Station is only a 10 minute stroll away.
  • Although centrally located, the Sofitel’s historic Renaissance building is set back in a large walled courtyard off a quiet canal, so it is very peaceful and feels worlds away from the hustle and bustle of the bars, restaurants, and coffee shops nearby. Amsterdam is quite hectic and coming home to a hotel in such a quiet location, yet so close to the action is an incredible treat.
  • You will follow in the footsteps of the rich and famous: since 1578, The Grand has welcomed celebrated authors, actors, ambassadors and heads of state, such as Willem van Oranje, Maria de Medici, and Napoleon Bonaparte.
  • The arrival through the large gate in the pristine, historic courtyard is an impressive start, topped off by the 2 F-Type Jaguars which are there for the complementary use of hotel guests.
  • The hotel building’s past is riddled with stories of intrigue, romance, and mystery. Originally the site of two convents – St. Cecily’s Convent at the northern part of the property and St. Katherine’s Convent to the south – this address came into being in the 15th century, when women vastly outnumbered men and Amsterdam was a city of monasteries and convents, a place where God’s graces gave way to hearts in search of holiness. Later, the building was used as royal lodgings, the Dutch Admiralty headquarters and the city hall of Amsterdam. Queen Beatrix was even married here (in 1966).
  • The hotel organises complimentary, daily tours in the morning to show the hotel compound and its historic significance to their guests (make sure you don’t miss that).
  • Check-in is quick and efficient with some nice thoughtful gestures (such as small pastries for guests to help themselves).
  • The warm decor is beautiful throughout the hotel. The marvellous lobby stands out, not only because of its design, but also because of the bountiful and continually refreshed floral displays that decorate the space.
  • The rich history is, as naturally, incorporated into the new architectural details in many ways. The students of the Design Academy of Eindhoven used legendary persons from the history of the building as a source of inspiration: their creative contribution with historical influences is draped across the 177 beautifully appointed rooms including 52 suites. All rooms feature high ceilings and are equipped with an excellent Sofitel MyBed (you will not want to get up!), air-conditioning, working desk, Nespresso machine and a safe deposit box.
  • The real stars of the hotel are the Legendary Imperial, Opera & Canal House Suites. The latter are located in the former homes of famous Dutch Admirals dating back to the 17th century. These spacious suites are marked by timeless elegance with cream-colored walls, wooden ceiling beams, warm autumn colors and a subtle mix of classic and contemporary furnishings.
  • The hotel’s refinement extends to a perfumed bath with fragrance products from Hermès.
  • WiFi is complimentary throughout the hotel and of excellent quality.
  • The speciality of the hotel’s fabulous restaurant “Bridges” is a local fresh fish served in a Dutch way. The “Bridges” serves also rich choice of other dishes of the Dutch cuisine with a contemporary French twist. The professional connoisseurs must have liked its kitchen and service because within a year the Bridges got its first Michelin star. The hotel has also a bistro (Le Petit Bistro), a cosy library, a cocktail bar and a traditional Dutch brown cafe style bar called “Flying Dutchman”.
  • Breakfast is served in Bridges Restaurant and is presented buffet style with hot dishes served on an a la carte basis. There is large, nicely presented spread of fresh fruit, cereals, breads/pastries, juices and cold meats & cheeses to keep everyone happy. The hot dishes included various egg dishes, pancakes, bacon etc, and guests are offered a complementary glass of sparkling wine to accompany their breakfast, should they wish. The staff will do their best to meet your request if you want something that is not listed on the menu. Breakfast can also be served in your room at no extra cost if it’s included in your room package.
  • The gorgeous courtyard-garden is an urban oasis of tranquility which is lovely in the warmer months to relax after a day of sightseeing.
  • The hotel has a (small) spa on site (So Spa), which has great facilities such as an indoor pool, a steam room, sauna, and gym.
  • Sofitel is the luxury hotel brand of Accor Hotels, offering a genuine experience of the French “art de vivre”. Sofitel Legend is a label that has been added to the Sofitel Luxury Hotels brand to designate properties that are in fact legendary places imbibed in the history of their town or country.
  • The staff and service at this hotel is beyond excellent. From the maids to concierge to the management, everyone goes the extra mile to make you feel very welcome and comfortable.

CONS & THINGS TO KNOW

For lovers of history, hopeful romantics, and jet-setting travelers alike, a visit to Sofitel Legend The Grand Amsterdam is an absolute must. This is one of the city’s most iconic and prestigious addresses, and we highly recommend it. I could not find real faults during my stay, perhaps just some very minor details that you may want to know when considering a stay here:

  • The location of the hotel is fabulous, although proximity to the red light district can lead to some sights which won’t appeal to everyone. But let this not put you off as the red light district is part of Amsterdam’s charm and perfectly safe.
  • There’s only a limited amount of chairs to relax on near the swimming pool (2 recliners) and the gym is quite small. But you won’t spend too much time here anyway, since Amsterdam has so much to offer!
  • Breakfast is excellent with significant attention to details, but obviously pricey (€37,5 per person). Make sure you book a breakfast inclusive package.
  • Food at the hotel is excellent, although the dinner portions at Le Petit Bistro are rather small for a brasserie-style restaurant.
  • The elevators’ interiors need a refurbishment as they look a little worn and dated.

MY VERDICT
  • Location: 9/10
  • Design: 9/10
  • Rooms: 8/10
  • Food: 8/10
  • Service: 10/10
  • Overall experience: very good: 8,6/10

TIPS & SAVE MONEY
  • Save money: read my tips for getting the best deal at a luxury hotel like the Sofitel Legend The Grand Amsterdam. Book a room at the cheapest price and/or receive many free perks!
  • Read my tips for preparing your trip in time.
  • When you book the hotel through Virtusoso, you will receive some extra perks such as upgrade at time of booking (subject to availability), daily full breakfast (for up to two in room guests), $100 USD food & beverage credit, and early check-in/late check-out (subject to availability). Click here for more details.
  • I would recommend to take advantage of the in-house tour at 11am each day, it’s only about 20-30 mins but showcases the wonderful art of the buildings that guests might not necessarily see, such as the stained glass windows overlooking the staircases, the incredible painted walls and ceilings in the Marriage Room, and the wonderful carvings in the Council Chamber.

BEST TIME TO VISIT

Amsterdam is best visited between April and May (spring) or September through November (autumn), right before or directly after the summertime high tourist season. You’ll contend with fewer tourists, you’ll enjoy somewhat mild temperatures (the city’s weather is notoriously finicky), and you’ll also experience Amsterdam as the locals do, at its laid-back best.


HOW TO GET THERE

Amsterdam can easily be reached by plane, train or car. For those coming by plane, the hotel is located a 20-minute cab ride from Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (AMS). Check the Wikipedia page of Amsterdam Airport Schiphol for the lasted updates on airlines that have direct flights to Amsterdam.


OUDEZIJDS VOORBURGWAL (LOCATION OF HOTEL)
OUDEZIJDS VOORBURGWAL (LOCATION OF HOTEL)
HOTEL EXTERIOR
HOTEL EXTERIOR
HOTEL EXTERIOR
HOTEL EXTERIOR
HOTEL EXTERIOR
HOTEL EXTERIOR
HOTEL EXTERIOR
HOTEL EXTERIOR
HOTEL EXTERIOR
HOTEL EXTERIOR
HOTEL EXTERIOR
HOTEL EXTERIOR
HOTEL COURTYARD
HOTEL COURTYARD
HOTEL COURTYARD
HOTEL COURTYARD
HOTEL COURTYARD
HOTEL COURTYARD
HOTEL COURTYARD
HOTEL COURTYARD
COURTYARD
COURTYARD
HOTEL ENTRANCE
HOTEL ENTRANCE
LOBBY
LOBBY
LOBBY
LOBBY
LOBBY
LOBBY
LOBBY
LOBBY
LOBBY
LOBBY
LOBBY
LOBBY
LOBBY
LOBBY
LOBBY
LOBBY
LOBBY
LOBBY
LOBBY
LOBBY
LOBBY
LOBBY
LOBBY
LOBBY
LOBBY
LOBBY
LOBBY
LOBBY
LOBBY
LOBBY
LOBBY
LOBBY
LIBRARY
LIBRARY
LIBRARY
LIBRARY
LIBRARY
LIBRARY
SO SPA
SO SPA
SO SPA
SO SPA
INDOOR SWIMMING POOL
INDOOR SWIMMING POOL
INDOOR SWIMMING POOL
INDOOR SWIMMING POOL
GYM
GYM
GYM
GYM
HOTEL CORRIDOR
HOTEL CORRIDOR
PRESTIGE SUITE: ENTRANCE
PRESTIGE SUITE: ENTRANCE
PRESTIGE SUITE
PRESTIGE SUITE
PRESTIGE SUITE
PRESTIGE SUITE
PRESTIGE SUITE
PRESTIGE SUITE
PRESTIGE SUITE
PRESTIGE SUITE
PRESTIGE SUITE: WELCOME LETTER
PRESTIGE SUITE: WELCOME LETTER
PRESTIGE SUITE
PRESTIGE SUITE
PRESTIGE SUITE
PRESTIGE SUITE
PRESTIGE SUITE
PRESTIGE SUITE
PRESTIGE SUITE
PRESTIGE SUITE
PRESTIGE SUITE
PRESTIGE SUITE
PRESTIGE SUITE
PRESTIGE SUITE
PRESTIGE SUITE
PRESTIGE SUITE
PRESTIGE SUITE
PRESTIGE SUITE
PRESTIGE SUITE
PRESTIGE SUITE
VIEW FROM PRESTIGE SUITE
VIEW FROM PRESTIGE SUITE
VIEW FROM PRESTIGE SUITE
VIEW FROM PRESTIGE SUITE
VIEW FROM PRESTIGE SUITE
VIEW FROM PRESTIGE SUITE
JUNIOR SUITE
JUNIOR SUITE
CANAL HOUSE SUITE
CANAL HOUSE SUITE
CANAL HOUSE SUITE
CANAL HOUSE SUITE
CANAL HOUSE SUITE
CANAL HOUSE SUITE
BAR 'THE FLYING DUTCHMAN'
BAR ‘THE FLYING DUTCHMAN’
LE PETIT BISTRO: DINNER
LE PETIT BISTRO: DINNER
LE PETIT BISTRO: DINNER
LE PETIT BISTRO: DINNER
LE PETIT BISTRO: DINNER
LE PETIT BISTRO: DINNER
LE PETIT BISTRO: DINNER
LE PETIT BISTRO: DINNER
LE PETIT BISTRO: DINNER
LE PETIT BISTRO: DINNER
LE PETIT BISTRO: DINNER
LE PETIT BISTRO: DINNER
LE PETIT BISTRO: DINNER
LE PETIT BISTRO: DINNER
ENTRANCE TO BRIDGES RESTAURANT
ENTRANCE TO BRIDGES RESTAURANT
BRIDGES RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST
BRIDGES RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST
BRIDGES RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST
BRIDGES RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST
BRIDGES RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST
BRIDGES RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST
BRIDGES RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST
BRIDGES RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST
BRIDGES RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST
BRIDGES RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST
BRIDGES RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST
BRIDGES RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST
BRIDGES RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST
BRIDGES RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST
BRIDGES RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST
BRIDGES RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST
BRIDGES RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST
BRIDGES RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST
BRIDGES RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST
BRIDGES RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST
COUNCIL CHAMBER
COUNCIL CHAMBER
COUNCIL CHAMBER
COUNCIL CHAMBER
MARRIAGE ROOM
MARRIAGE ROOM
MARRIAGE ROOM
MARRIAGE ROOM
COURTYARD AT NIGHT
COURTYARD AT NIGHT
HOTEL ENTRANCE AT NIGHT
HOTEL ENTRANCE AT NIGHT

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