Amster-dam Fine: Kimpton De Witt Amsterdam
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I’ve traveled to Amsterdam nearly a dozen times in the past few years, thanks to how convenient it is to use KLM to transit from Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (AMS) to other points within Europe. That's given me the chance to check out many of the city’s newer or newly renovated hotels, including the gorgeous Pulitzer Amsterdam, the trendy Andaz Amsterdam, the stately Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam, the chic W and the garden-inspired Hyatt Regency Amsterdam.
For a recent weekend visit to the city, I was searching for somewhere new to stay where I could earn or redeem points, and that’s how I came across the Kimpton De Witt, which opened in May 2017 and turned out to be an excellent option for my needs.
The Kimpton De Witt is only the second Kimpton property outside the US (the other is the Kimpton Seafire on Grand Cayman, which opened in November 2016). Kimpton and its Karma Rewards program have now been fully folded into IHG Rewards, so you can earn and redeem IHG points at the hotel, too.
For the weekend of my stay, you could redeem points at a rate of 50,000 per night or 35,000 plus $104 per night for a king standard room that cost $206.55. That gave me a value of 0.3 cents to 0.4 cents per point, way below TPG's current valuation for IHG points at 0.6 cents apiece.
Instead, I decided to gamble on a one-bed standard room for $189.96 per night. I call it a gamble because the room looked almost exactly like the king standard but cost $17 less and was described as 55 square feet smaller. I figured I might have a good shot at an upgrade, though, since I have the IHG Rewards Club credit card and thus IHG Platinum status.
I also decided to put the charge on my IHG card since I would earn 5x bonus IHG points per dollar by doing so rather than just 3x Chase Ultimate Rewards points with my Chase Sapphire Reserve or 3x Citi ThankYou Rewards points with my Citi Premier® Card. That meant I would be earning 20x points per dollar in total, thanks to my Platinum status and the bonus earning on the credit card. Plus, with my personal IHG Rewards Club Accelerate offer from this spring, I earned an additional 8,000 points.
I arrived in Amsterdam at 8:00am after an overnight flight from Asia. I paid 5.40 euros ($6.30) to take the train from Schiphol to Amsterdam Centraal Station in the city. From there, the hotel was a five-minute walk. It was right in the historical center of town on Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal in the Palace Quarter, just to the east of the canal belt and the Nine Streets district.
The hotel was within walking distance of the Dam, the red-light district and sights like the Anne Frank House. I walked to the Rijksmuseum, Hermitage Amsterdam and several canal-house museums in town as well, but these might be a bit far for some. The hotel lent guests VanMoof bikes for free, but I was not brave enough to take one out for a spin on Amsterdam’s notoriously busy bike lanes.
I thought the location was perfect, since it was easy to get to and from the train station and many of the city’s major attractions.
I arrived at the hotel at just before 9:00am, and the lobby was already busy. The drab brick exterior of the main building was not too inspiring. Don’t let the faded façade fool you, though: It used to be the Crowne Plaza Amsterdam, but Kimpton’s creative director, Ave Bradley, really spruced up the interior and added flourishes like a neon-pink sign on the outside. Three of the hotel's five buildings dated back to the 17th century, and there was even a three-story, two-bedroom suite called the Little House that you could book. (It was the home of 17th-century Dutch playwright PC Hooft.)
I am glad I got to the hotel when I did, because after I arrived, a group of cruise passengers came and checked in. Everyone else checking in at the same time as me seemed to be American.
One of the agents at reception was free when I walked in, so he checked me in right away. He confirmed the details of my stay, thanked me for my IHG loyalty and explained that there was complimentary wine served lobby from 5:00pm to 6:00pm every day, a signature Kimpton amenity.
He said that I was lucky because my room was available. He explained that I should connect to the Wi-Fi via IHG Connect rather than the Kimpton network.
I headed directly to the room on the fourth floor.
When I got there, I found a sign hanging on the door that said, “Resting.” Confused, I headed back to the lobby and got the attention of the same agent to ask if he had given me an occupied room. He was alarmed and started checking into it with his supervisor.
While they handled that, I had a chance to look around the lobby. It wasn't big, but it was bright, thanks to large windows. The furnishings were stylish and cozy.
There was a little sitting area near the front windows. The blue-and-white floor tiles seemed to be an updated version of traditional Dutch Delft tiles with eye-catching geometric patterns.
Up a small set of stairs on the landing was the Miss Louisa Coffee and Beignets counter, serving pastries and drinks made with locally roasted Lot Sixty One beans.
I had a cappuccino here both mornings of my stay. Each cost 3.50 euros ($4) and was delicious. The people manning the counter were friendly.
There were several seating areas in this wing, with a table for coworking and chairs and low tables for lounging and hanging out.
In one corner was a DIY tea station with bags of Earl Grey, peppermint and chamomile teas.
On the way to the hotel’s restaurant was a small atrium with plotted and hanging plants, chairs and two hanging swing chairs that were quite popular with guests.
When I got back to the front desk, my agent was checking other people in, but one of his colleagues spotted me and came right over. He apologized for the confusion and said that they had located me another room — with no one in it this time! This one was a king standard — one category up from the room I booked, which was their way of saying sorry.
This room was in the other wing of the building, so I went to the single elevator adjacent to the atrium, which you needed a key card to access, and headed up to the third floor.
The hotel hallways were bright and airy, with lots of colorful contemporary paintings lining the walls.
The knocker on each of the doors was a different animal. Those I saw included a scarab beetle, a dragonfly and the fox on my door.
The room was small but configured efficiently.
Like the lobby, the bathroom had geometric Delft-inspired tiles that made it seem cheerful.
There was a single sink and not much counter space, but since it was just me staying there, it didn't get too cluttered. On either side of the sink were the toilet and the glassed-in walk-in shower.
The shower had overhead and handheld shower heads. The bath products were by local beauty brand Marie-Stella-Maris and came in large-format bottles, which was an environmentally conscientious touch at a moment where single-use plastic seems to be public enemy No. 1. The scent, "fresh black pepper," was fresh and clean-smelling without being too floral or overwhelming.
Across from the bathroom was a cupboard holding an iron, ironing board and a Gaiam yoga mat, a Kimpton hallmark.
Next to this was the minibar, which included snacks and candy and a refrigerator stocked with drinks.
There was also a Nespresso machine with complimentary capsules, cream and sugar in a classic stroopwafel tin. I loved the traditional porcelain cups, saucers and spoons.
The coffee bar was stocked with a lot of capsules my first day, but housekeeping replaced almost all the regular ones I used with decaffeinated ones the next day, which peeved me. What good is a decaf capsule when I want fully leaded in the morning? They also did not replace the milk packets I’d used, and threw out two plastic bottles of water that were almost empty but that I’d placed on the desk, not in the trash. Again, I know these are small things, but I think they should know not to throw out anything not in the trash.
The king bed was a Kimpton Ultra Comfort Mattress from Hypnos, and I found it to be comfortable, just the right balance between firm and soft. It had a gray, upholstered headboard and was dressed in white linens with a fluffy duvet and a soft, gray throw blanket. Above it were five small paintings, which was a nice way to bring some of the art in the public areas of the hotel into the room itself.
To either side were pink marble nightstands, one holding the phone and the other an old-school clock.
An electrical plug and USB port were on either side of the head of the bed. I also really liked the whimsical Atelier Areti Alouette Black Bird reading lamps attached to the bed.
Along the interior side of the room was the “closet.” I use quotation marks because this was really just a hanging rack that I’ve been encountering more and more in hotels like the Hyatt Regency Sydney and the MOXY Times Square in New York.
As you can see, there was a mirror, behind which was a short rack with hangers, and then another of these on the other side. Between them was a longer rack that was out in the open and where you could hang your clothes. Below this were two small doors and a shelf (where there were cool art books about Amsterdam). I know it was a space saver, but honestly, I would rather not have my clothes out in the open in the room. It just felt like a cheap touch to me. I did, however, like the Frette bathrobes hanging there.
Across from the bed was a beautiful dark wooden desk with a work area and a few drawers. I loved the little surprises it held, including a LEFF Amsterdam Bluetooth speaker, a vanity mirror, cut crystal glasses that added an element of class, and, if you can spot it in the lower right corner, a Pols Potten gold-dipped porcelain parrot statue.
Above the desk was the flat-screen Phillips television with your usual array of European stations and news outlets like BBC World News and CNN International.
The Wi-Fi was free for me as an IHG member and was really speedy, which I appreciated.
My windows looked down into the atrium with the swinging chairs, and I could see into other guests' rooms, so for the most part, I kept the sheer blinds closed during the day and used the blackout blinds overnight so I wouldn’t be woken up by the morning sun.
While I was mostly impressed with the room décor, I will say that the gray bed and gray carpeting did feel drab compared to the other elements like that parrot sculpture and the bathroom tiling. But it also gave the room a clean, sophisticated look that was soothing to this jet-lagged traveler’s bleary eyes.
Food and Beverage
As I mentioned, there was a coffee counter down in the lobby, convenient for a pick-me-up before heading out into the city.
The hotel’s main dining outlet, however, was the Wyers restaurant, which you could access through the lobby of from the street at the back of the hotel. Wyers, which also provided the room service, served what I’d call European comfort food.
Breakfast, which was not included in my stay, cost 21 euros ($24.50) and included a buffet and à la carte options like smoked-salmon scrambled eggs, steel-cut oatmeal and American-style pancakes.
The dinner menu included dishes like chicken wings, pâté with mustard and cornichons, a lobster roll, wood-grilled octopus with Turkish salad and sesame yogurt, wood-fired skirt steak with fries, papardelle with red-wine-braised duck ragu and crispy Berkshire pork belly with sauerkraut and maple-whipped sweet potatoes. In short, there was a bit of everything.
The cocktail list also looked interesting, with options like a New Amsterdam manhattan with Bols barrel-aged genever and Dolin Rouge, and a Damrak gin and Fever-Tree tonic. You could also enjoy these in the swanky House Bar on the other side of the atrium from Wyers. To be honest, the bar was empty whenever I passed by, so I didn’t stop in there myself, though apparently the building it is in dates to 1645 and the wood paneling was salvaged from nearby buildings.
Because my stay in the city was short, I decided to skip dining and drinking at the hotel, hitting Amsterdam’s blossoming dining scene instead.
The hotel’s other main amenities were down in the basement. There was a small fitness center with two treadmills, a stationary bike and an elliptical.
Though that was plenty for my needs, I was mystified by the fact that both the bike and elliptical seemed to be old, and even rusty. Why bother putting in a new gym and furnishing it with old, used equipment?
Behind the row of cardio machines was equipment for weight training, free weights and a stretching area.
Across from the gym was a small business center with computers and a printer.
In terms of service, apart from the check-in hiccup, everyone I interacted with was fantastic. The agents at the check-in desk were always friendly and outgoing, with plenty of recommendations for what to do on a day out in the city. The two concierges I met were also both courteous and had great restaurant suggestions. The hotel even had a page dedicated to their staff members, with short, interesting bios on a few of them, but I didn’t run into any of these particular folks during my visit.
With its first European property, Kimpton managed to keep its quirky branding and hallmarks but with an Amsterdam spin (the artwork, the tiling, the incorporation of historical touches and spaces). That must have been a challenge, but it is one at which the hotel has succeeded.
For a hotel of this quality and in such a central location, the room rates are extremely reasonable, especially considering you can earn and redeem points on stays here. I thought the staff members were spot-on with their service and attitude, and they gave the experience a more Dutch and international feel than you might expect given how many Americans seem to check in here. I will definitely keep the Kimpton De Witt in mind for future stays, especially if the room rates remain this low.