Ambassade Hotel, Amsterdam $$$$
Concierge.com's insider take:
The Ambassade isn't the most stylishly renovated of Amsterdam's Golden Age hotels, but the privately-owned landmark beats out the competition, with one of the longest stretches of ethereal canal-front views and the most authentically local arty vibe. The 59 guest rooms are typically Dutch (a.k.a. small) but hold an eclectic collection of Louis XV bureaus, armchairs, and desks, as well as modernist paintings by members of the Northern European Cobra school. Reserve one of the beamed third- or fourth-floor rooms facing the Herengracht canal to claim a quintessential Amsterdam view: Westerkerk's blue crown rising above the treetops to the north, exuberantly gabled houses built by the city's wealthiest burghers on the Golden Bend of the canal to the south. Authors on reading tours make the lobby resemble opening day of BookExpo (Salman Rushdie, among others, has been spotted here); the staff is one of the most cheerfully efficient in town, always at the ready to offer directions or make reservations; guests zoom back to the womb in an egg-shaped saltwater tank in the hotel's adjoining Koan Float and Massage Centre; and a filling (16 euro, about $22) breakfast buffet of pastries, Dutch cheeses, smoked meats, and fruit is served in a dining room with bay windows overlooking the Herengracht. The only real drawbacks are the Escher-like maze of staircases that connect the hotel's ten 17th- and 18th-century canal houses and rattling windows that can't cushion the street noise—although the clamor is mostly from the bumping of bikes on cobblestones, and anyway, that's all forgotten when the light of a Dutch dawn seeps through those tall windows.
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I stayed at the Ambassade for a week and absolutely loved it. The location is perfect, within walking distance of everything in the city. The best staff, clean,... more