Hotel Roemer

Vondelpark, Amsterdam, Holland Book from

Reviewed by Emilie Witham
Cosy and very comfy, this bijou hotel near the Vondelpark has friendly staff and a charming courtyard garden
First impressions can make all the difference. Which is why, when we arrived at the Roemer one winter's evening to be greeted with a warm smile and a roaring open fire, we knew we were onto a winner. Despite bursting at the brim with mod cons - WiFi, iPod docks, Nespresso machines and endless flatscreens - the 3-storey red-brick townhouse has a snug, sexy feel. Beyond reception is a lovely contemporary lounge with soft lighting, leather sofas, floral armchairs and reams of funky artwork on the walls. French doors open onto a Zen-like courtyard garden and pond.

Up in our garret bedroom, second impressions were equally good. Owner Arjen van den Hof has used neutral colours and splashes of art to create calming refuges from the city; granite bathrooms, Jacuzzis, bijou balconies and decanters of spirits add class. Friendly staff offer maps and advice on the best bars and restaurants - and there's no shortage hereabouts.

Highs

  • Sleek designer furniture (arcing chrome lamps, Vitra swivel chairs) and bold, oversized artworks create a sophisticated mood
  • Great location within 5-10 minutes' walk of the Leidseplein square, Vondelpark, the Museum district and some great eateries and drinkeries
  • Loved-up couples will relish the big Jacuzzi tubs in the Executive Rooms and Junior Suites
  • One of the best beds we've ever slept in
  • Very affordable

Lows

  • The hotel is undergoing renovation and expansion during 2015 which may cause some disruption; we have not seen the rooms in the new annex
  • The breakfast costs extra and was a disappointment when we stayed: lukewarm food and a lack of organisation
  • Service, while always friendly, can be a little chaotic
  • Room sizes can vary, even within a given category, and few have space for children
  • This is Amsterdam: expect some street noise at weekends

Best time to go

Amsterdam is a year-round city. In winter, the open fire in the lounge makes it a cosy place to relax (as are the many coffee shops and bars nearby). In summer, there is a pretty garden to unwind in, and some rooms have their own balcony - but you should be prepared for crowds at the main sites and museums.

Our top tips

Take comfy shoes for walking or cycling around Amsterdam, glad-rags for a night on the town, and your laptop if you want to check emails from your bedroom. Bedrooms are thoughtfully stocked with socket adaptors for US/UK plugs, digital bathroom scales, iPod docks and Nespresso machines. Reception staff will give you a city map and plenty of advice, but a good guidebook is always useful.

Great for...

City Style
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 38
  • Breakfast (+ lunch on request)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Concierge Service
  • Jacuzzi
  • Bicycles Available
  • Vespas for hire
Room:

Rooms

Rooms differ in size and shape, but all decorated in the cool neutral colours beloved of boutique hotels across the world, with big splashes of fun, funky artwork to lift the mood. These range from black and white prints of Dolly Parton or Grace Jones to the colourful, chunky tableaux of Peter Keizer and Anton Heyboer (who was himself a colourful chap, rarely seen without his fisherman's cap, shades and one of his 7 wives...).

We stayed in one of the Executive Rooms - a lovely garret room on the top floor, with a kingsize bed and - in common with all Executive Rooms and Junior Suites - a big round Jacuzzi bathtub. The bed was supremely comfortable - one of the best we can remember sleeping in. These rooms either have a private balcony looking over the hotel's garden, or face onto Roemer Visscherstraat, which is generally quiet apart from Friday and Saturday late evenings.

Also on the top floor are 3 of the Junior Suites, tucked under the original beams of the 18th-century mansion. There's enough additional space for a glass dining table and a pair of sleek Eames-Vitry chairs, as well as a work area. The last suite is in the basement (#14) - not to be sniffed at, being even larger than the rest, with double Jacuzzi bathtubs and a double rainshower, as well as direct access to the garden.

The Standard Double Rooms, also facing the Roemer Visscherstraat, are a little cramped, with a double bed (instead of kingsize) and just a shower (no bathtub) in the bathroom. For a light-travelling weekend break on a budget, they would be fine; for anything more, we would recommend an Executive Room. All rooms come with 2 flatscreen TVs: 1 in the bathroom, 1 in the bedroom - and an extra one for good measure in room 14!

As of 2015, a clutch of additional Deluxe, Triple and Quadruple Rooms are available across the street from the main hotel. We've yet to view them, but they promise to be in the same style as the original rooms - though they lack an in-bathroom TV.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Cd player
  • Central heating
  • Coffee tea making
  • Cots Available
  • Dvd player
  • Ipod dock
  • Jacuzzi
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Phone
  • Radio
  • Safe box
  • Satellite tv
  • WiFi

Eating

Breakfast costs extra and is served from 7-11am in a room which is not quite big enough if everyone descends at the same time. It's a good spread of cold meats, cheeses, individual cereals, mini croissants and rolls, jams (including an indulgent chocolate spread), some rather sweet juices and one of those snazzy display boxes of yummy Nespresso capsules. If that's not enough, there are also cooked options: pancakes, toasted muffins with smoked salmon, and eggs Benedict, to name but a few.

If you're around for lunch, there's a slim menu - chef's soup, 100% beefburgers, club sandwich, smoked duck salad - most of it prepared at their sister Hotel Vondel around the corner and brought to your room or, in fine weather, the courtyard.

Guests also have the option of staying on an all-inclusive basis (additional cost), which includes breakfast, room service, snacks, all drinks at the bar and from the in-room minibar.

But Amsterdam is all about eating - and drinking - out. And there's no shortage of wonderful restaurants and bars to choose from nearby, and no want of recommendations from staff either. Le Garage serves upscale French fusion combinations: scallops come with pieces of fried blood sausage, steak tartar is prepared at the table. A short taxi ride away is Toscanini, a gorgeous Italian restaurant, where the most succulent of meat cuts are roasted on charcoal and washed down with fine reds. Lucius comes recommended for seafood, Riaz for Surinamese rotis (and occasional appearances by Ruud Gullit), Hap Hmm for budget bites, and if that's not enough, you'll find a list of many more recommendations in your bedroom.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Breakfast
  • Coffee tea making
  • Lunch by arrangement
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Room service
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

The hotel is within 10 minutes' walk or a short cycle ride from Museumplein, which means easy access to Amsterdam's prime tourist attractions. Here are some of the highlights:

  • The Concertgebouw: said to have the best acoustics of any concert hall in the world

  • The Stedelijk Museum: houses a fine collection of modern art

  • The Rijksmuseum: home to a staggering collection of Golden Age art

  • The Van Gogh Museum: pays homage to the great artist who sold just 2 paintings in his lifetime

  • A surprisingly worthwhile canal tour: start from the Rijksmuseum mooring and let yourself float. Or stroll around the 3 main canals, Herengracht, Keisergracht and Prisengracht, and the 9 streets they enclose: a pedestrian's haven of funky boutiques, coffee shops, bars and restaurants

  • The Anne Frank House: the place where Anne Frank wrote her WW2 diary, and the museum which tells the story of the 8 people in hiding and those who helped them

  • The Vondelpark: 5 minutes walk from the hotel, you can rent skates, go for a jog or borrow a hotel bike for some fresh air (indoors, Amsterdam is one of Europe's smokier cities)

  • Leidseplein is party central so get your clubbing shoes on and hit the dance floors - nearby Paradiso gets rave reviews

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Museums / galleries
  • Nightlife
  • Shopping / markets
  • Traditional cultures

Kids

Children of all ages are welcome, but due to the lack of extra beds we felt this was best suited to families with babies. That said, there's a lovely garden and older children will appreciate the huge TVs and DVD collection.

Best for:

Babies (0-1 years), Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

Executive Rooms and Junior Suites have space for a baby cot. A separate room would be needed families travelling with children.

Babysitting:

Babysitting is available by arrangement.

Baby equipment:

Baby cots and high chairs are available on request (a supplement may apply).

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Families Should Know:

Parents of toddlers should beware the pond.

Kid Friendly: Junior Suite

Our guests' ratings...

7/
Rooms
7/
Food
9/
Service
7/
Value
7/
Overall

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