We stayed at the Westcord Art Hotel Amsterdam two weekends in a row, the first in one of their standard rooms and the second in one of their junior suites.
The first thing you notice about the Westcord Art Hotel is that it’s not in the CBD. Westcord has four hotels in Amsterdam:
- two Art hotels (a 3 star and a 4 star) beside each other in Spaarnhammerdijk,
- the Fashion hotel opposite the World Fashion Centre and
- one opposite the Central Train Station in the CBD.
We stayed all four nights in the 4 star Westcord Art Hotel.
The second thing you notice heading to the Westcord Art Hotel is the Art. A pair of life sized cows painted in Batman and Robin costumes stand on the roadside outside.
A red cow sits nearby (I never did figure that one out) and as you enter the hotel foyer there’s a smart car parked in the corner and various art works on the walls.
Both the three and four star hotels are served by the same reception area, the four star rooms in an annexe accessed by a glass walled corridor.
Check-in went smoothly and we were suitably impressed by the board explaining all the amenities available, from bike hire, through to bus and museum tickets. A selection of snacks sat on the counter along with a price list, saving a trip across the road to the service station for a guilty treat.
Good news for swimmers: the public swimming pool behind the hotel was free for guests.
The Standard Room
We headed through the glass corridor and past a suitably arty robotic mannequin, up two lifts to our room where we were pleasantly surprised.
We were on the top floor facing away from the street, our view overlooking the neighbouring Train Repairing Centre, and while the room itself wasn’t huge, there was enough room to unwind.
The bed was a good size although it had two mattresses in the European fashion (not a fan).
There was a window seat in front of the window allowing for natural light while you read or relaxed and some framed art above the bed.
The bathroom featured a sunken bath and glass walls meaning that you’d need to be on close terms with anyone you shared the room with!
Thankfully the toilet was in a separate room closer to the door, so no dangers of sharing too much through glass doors there. The separate shower had dual heads and the toiletries were Fayr.
The Junior Suite
The Junior Suite was closer to the lifts and on a lower floor, but was also in the Four Star annexe. It was largely the same, but the window seat was that little bit little wider and the bed that little bit bigger.
Again, there was art above the bed, but this time the cupboards were hidden on each side of the bed, and little alcoves on either side of the bed were the perfect size to hold a cup of tea.
The bathroom was a little bigger and had a separate shower plus a generously sized bath and separate toilet.
The slightly larger sizes of room, bed and window seat weren’t hugely noticeable by themselves, but in total they did add up to a greater sense of space and comfort.
So, what do you get for breakfast? Almost anything you like. There’s a great spread, with eggs two ways (scrambled and boiled), potatoes two ways (rosti and hash browns), bacon and sausage, baked beans and mushrooms in the hot items.
Cereals and a salad bar complemented the cold cuts and an array of colourful conserves accompanied the varieties of breads and pastries.
Amusingly enough above each of the bins of breads there were “inspirational” sayings. In front of the last bin (“If I call you darling will you make me pancakes?”) were boxes of chocolate sprinkles.
One of the staff members noticed Ange checking them out and came over to let us know just how popular the sprinkles were, and not just among the children.
The breakfast area was busy but not over full and the indoor outdoor flow allowed you to sit outside allowing a view over the neighbouring public pool.
I thought I had read that the pool admitted nude swimmers from 7am to 9am, and mentioned that to Ange. She’d just finished telling me that I must have misread whatever poster or brochure I had read, when a long haired young man left the water to dry himself under a tree, completely starkers. Ange didn’t know where to look!
So we decided that we’d eat in and try various dishes on the different nights that we were at the Westcord Art Hotel.
I introduced Ange to bitterballen – the Dutch delicacy consisting of deep fried broth, served with a small dish of mustard for dipping.
For the main Ange had the risotto and I had the burger, and we finished off with the trio of ice creams.
Strangely enough we were given sorbet instead of ice cream, but we thought we’d give them a go. I must admit I was very happy with my burger: it came with fries (as you would expect) and a corn on the cob (which I did not). Ange was disappointed with her risotto – the consistency was all gluggy, and when I tried it I had to agree. The sorbets were a bit weird in that they had a powdery bits at the bottom.
Always game for another try (every chef has an off night), we ordered room service again the following weekend, and were so glad we did. This time we tried the fried prawns and onion rings with dipping sauces plus a prawn salad, beetroot salad and satay pork skewers with a cheesecake to finish.
We loved it all – the prawn salad was my favourite: a good balance between the boring yet healthy lettuce and the more exciting boiled egg and prawns.
According to Google Maps, the nearest places to get food nearby was a service station and a micro brewery gastro pub separated from the hotel by a confusing intersection.
It would have been easiest to get to the pub by merely crossing the road outside reception, but the dual carriageway had barricades in the middle indicating that someone in authority had deemed that too dangerous, so we needed to walk away from it, over an over pass and then past the service station and finally across the road.
We ended up heading to De Prael Houthavens and the place was packed. The sun was out, so the outdoor eating areas were rammed with mainly locals who had cycled to the micro brewery for an artisan ale or two and a meal before heading back home on the dedicated cycle lanes.
While the picnic tables outside and the bike racks were filled to capacity, inside was a different matter so we had our choice of seats. Very much a good news/bad news situation:
- Good news: lovely day with sunshine.
- Bad news: every man and his dog was there.
- Good news: inside was near empty, so our choice of seats.
- Bad news: crowds meant delays in getting someone to take our order and then to get our food.
- Good news: being inside gave us front row seats for when the chef had a meltdown.
- Bad news: It was all in Dutch so we had no way of following the drama.
- Good news: when we got our food (ribs & slaw, sausages & couscous) it was delicious!
Our arrangement with the Hotel meant that we had free bike rental for the time we were there (normal price €12.50/day), so we decided we’d take advantage with a couple of rides. After deciding where we were going to go, we headed downstairs.
Reception were helpful when we picked up the bikes, letting us know how to unlock the bikes and making sure we knew how cycling worked in the Netherlands:
“Stick to the cycle lanes and where there were none, keep right. Traffic will look out for you.”
We asked about helmets and were told not to worry about it – we’d be fine. We were then given a key with a license plate number on it and headed outside to find our respective bikes.
The license plates numbers ended up being stamped on a plate below the seat and after a quick search through the racks we found our bikes and unlocked them. Each one had a heavy metal chain which we looped around itself and around the frame under the seat.
The area beside the statue of the red cow turned into our impromptu testing area as we adjusted the seats and familiarised ourselves with the bikes. The bikes were good – padded, adjustable seats and most importantly 7 gears and a bell.
After cycling up to Zaanse Schans for a day trip, we decided on a separate occasion to head into the CBD and go to the Ann Frank House.
Ann Frank House
The Museum at the Ann Frank House is an iconic Amsterdam landmark. We decided to try the bikes out on a more urban route and so rode the fifteen minutes into town from the hotel.
It was really easy to make our way into town, most of the way was dedicated bike lanes or quiet back lanes with minimal traffic. Then we cut through a park and then we were onto the city streets themselves. We pretty much joined the flow of other bikes and did what they did, pulling over periodically to consult Google Maps.
The ride was progressing nicely when barrier arms started to descend, blocking off the road in both directions and an alarm went off. Everybody else stopped so we did too. Turns out a boat was traversing the canals carrying a load of something or another and needed to go under the bridge.
The bridge was cantilevered and we watched amazed as the two halves of the bridge swing skyward. You wouldn’t want to be caught in the middle when those raised up!
We chuckled as we watched the captain glued to his phone while the boat made its own way slowly between the two arms of the raised road. It didn’t take long to get through and then the road came back down, the barriers raised up and first the pedestrians and then the cyclists and lastly the cars returned to their journeys.
We were coming up to the turn off for the island that the Museum sat on when we heard sirens and in the distance saw a motorcycle police man dismount and stop traffic. We got our our cameras in preparation, and sure enough a cavalcade of three official cars came around the corner, preceded and followed by another brace of motorcycle cops.
Seconds later they were all gone and traffic again returned to normal. I’m guessing it was a politician of some sort.
When I first went to the Ann Frank House back in 2011 I could wait in line to get in, but now they only allow timed entry tickets bought online which sell out months in advance. No photography is allowed inside so we can’t share what it’s like inside but there’s two parts to the experience – the house itself and an attached museum.
By all accounts it’s still a moving experience and certainly worth the trip: just be sure to go online as soon as you know that you’re coming to Amsterdam to book your tickets.
Heading back was uneventful: the 7 gears in the bike making short work of the distance, and even trying a different route back proved that Amsterdam is a true cycle-friendly city with fellow road-users who actually notice cyclists.
Would I go back
If I didn’t need to be in the centre of Amsterdam, then I wouldn’t hesitate to stay at the Westcord. Having both the three and four star hotels on the same site allows the flexibility of having a stay driven by either comfort or budget. The rooms we had were great and you couldn’t fault the breakfast.
Where the Westcord Art Hotel Amsterdam really stands out though is in the lengths that they will go to to support your trip. They have a concierge desk where you can buy bus tickets, museum tickets, hire bikes and arrange tours.