Even in a design-conscious city as avant-garde and competitive as Amsterdam, it’s clear that the Conservatorium has the edge. Of course, it belongs to The Set Hotels group, which owns equally chic properties in London and Paris that do much to set the standard for today’s modern grand hotels. True to form, the Conservatorium showcases the artistry that goes into The Set, starting with its unique combination of heritage and contemporary aesthetics, thanks to the Milan-based designer Piero Lissoni.
The Neo-Gothic and Art Nouveau building itself dates back to the 19th century, when it was constructed as the Rijkspostspaarbank by the Dutch architect Daniel Knuttel. It became the Sweelinck Conservatorium in the 1980s, housing three musical institutes until its purchase by The Set Hotels in 2008. The lobby – the beating heart of the hotel – features a glass facade that cradles half the building’s exterior, letting in the daylight and lending the Conservatorium’s rich historical detail s a distinct lightness and sophistication. Such is the mastery of Lissoni’s handiwork – that, and his characteristic pops of colour, which are to be found in all 129 guest rooms, suites, and signature suites.
The enormous appeal of the Conservatorium’s suites, in particular, lies in the fact that they are all so very different, and finding the one that suits you best is enormous fun. Granted, you could take the easy route by booking the Penthouse Suite (€10,500 per night, roughly RM51,150): a slick, unabashedly sexy 170-square metre residence with its own dining room, living room, mirrored glass bedroom walls, and a pair of Stutterheim raincoats at your disposal. The triplex I Love Amsterdam Suite (€5,500 or about RM26,800) remains a firm guest favourite thanks to the 360-degree city views from its incredible roof terrace, as well as its two travertine-stone bathrooms and an acoustic guitar for the musically inclined.
The proximity of the Conservatorium to Amsterdam’s prime attractions means that you don’t even have to consider negotiating the complexities of hopping on a bicycle as the locals do – they’re right on the hotel’s doorstep. Those who aren’t culturally inclined can take advantage of the luxury boutiques belonging to the in-house Van Baerle shopping gallery, and the spa treatments and fitness classes at Akasha Holistic Wellbeing on the lowest floor. But at least have a soak in your bathtub, surrounded by rum-scented Malin and Goetz bubbles, as you gaze out at the magnificent Rijksmuseum glowing against the night sky.
So close is the hotel to the Van Gogh Museum, Stedelijk Museum, and Moco Museum that you can have a quick word with the Conservatorium’s Host Department about securing tickets in the morning, then head for the tree-framed Brasserie and Lounge. Pick your way over the famous Ice Table breakfast spread of house-baked breads, bio yoghurts and sliced fruit (perhaps add a glass of Veuve Clicquot for good measure) and you’ll still be first in line when the museums open – smug smile optional.