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The Conservatorium: Architectural Alchemy In Amsterdam

With striking structural features and artistic flair, Piero Lissoni’s contemporary design transforms this former bank – then music school – into a stylish city stay; welcome to the Conservatorium.

Modernity and history meet in this orchestral building, a place that combines flawless hospitality with a thoughtful design approach. This is a space that has led many lives: designed at the end of the 19th century by renowned Dutch architect, Daniel Knuttel, this bank-turned-conservatorium-turned-hotel is an Amsterdam landmark in its own right.

Situated just metres from some of Amsterdam’s most famous cultural sites; the Van Gogh Museum, Concertgebouw, Rijksmuseum and Stedelijk Museum – each home to some of the most notable works of Dutch Masters, from Vermeer to Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Frans Hall and Mondrian – there’s perhaps no better location in Amsterdam for a culture-packed stay. 

The Vibe

Dramatic yet sleek; stately, black-lacquered doors lead to the Conservatorium’s lofty corridors, lined with stone pillars, decorative tiling and stained-glass windows. Lissoni’s dark steel staircases, structural metal beaming and vaulted glass-ceilings lend a modern opulence to the space, yet the building’s history – and story – comes alive. Top-floor suites are built into the typically Dutch, Gothic Revival eaves – and look out for the preserved, 19th-century tiling which is intricately decorated with emblems of the country’s provinces alongside depictions of spiders and bees – creatures that collect and save their bounties. They’re a playful nod to the building’s origins.

The Rooms

Elegantly decorated in natural colours, featuring dark wood floors and furnishings, the 129 rooms and suites at the Conservatorium are a continuation of the clever interplay between heritage and modernity; particularly on the upper floors where suites sit high into the eaves of the building and feature beautiful, vaulted wood beams that frame the high, sloping-ceilings.

No matter your room, soft white linens from the Douxe Collection invite long, lazy mornings in bed. Many of the bathrooms boast floor-to-ceiling windows with superb views of the city – best enjoyed from the comfort of a deep bathtub or large rainfall shower – and come complete with creams and soaps from Italian brand, ETRO. The interior mastery of Pierro Lissoni reaches its pinnacle in the Conservatorium’s iconic bathrooms where small televisions sit flush in the inlay of sandstone marble walls, perfectly showcasing his design approach throughout the hotel; the subtle melding of old and new features. 

The Food + Drink

Start your day with breakfast and the day’s paper in the atrium; it’s at its most magnificent in the morning when the light pours in through the floor-to-ceiling glass. At night, the space transforms into a sumptuously glossy setting for an evening aperitif (we recommend the Jasmine 75 cocktail – a floral and spicy recipe made with Roku gin, jasmine and soda).

BARBOUNIA is the hotel’s all-day Mediterranean-inspired eatery, expertly executed by renowned Dutch chef, Schilo Van Coevorden and his team. From fresh rock oysters to beef carpaccio and tuna tataki, this is a menu that delivers a clever cross-section of Italian, Greek and French influences.

Come evening, settle into award-winning Japanese restaurant and bar, Taikoaptly named after the Japanese drum, the ‘taiko’ (it’s located inside the former-music school’s percussion room). Here, opt for the eight-course omakase designed by Schilo Van Coevorden; dishes served might include Wagyu beef, scallop tartar and a saffron miso-infused black cod, or watermelon sashimi, shiitake dim sum and miso eggplant if a vegetarian menu is more to your liking. The restaurant really comes to life at night with moody lighting and a sophisticated yet buzzy feel. For good reason, Taiko Bar is known as one of Amsterdam’s hottest destinations for cocktails, maintaining an excellent ambience long into the early hours. 

The Spa

Akasha Holistic Wellbeing Centre, the Conservatorium’s spa was named the Netherlands’ Best Hotel Spa in 2023 and has a notably extensive offering. Descend from the central atrium to discover the tranquil ambience within a new-age design aesthetic. Clean lines and strip-lighting illuminate the pool, while treatments and services include Watsu, yoga and nutritional advice. There’s an excellently-equipped gym, plus a Hammam, sauna and Jacuzzi, and the diverse range of products used – from Natura Bissé, Anne Semonin and U Beauty – make for a truly tailorable and holistic wellbeing experience.

The Little Extras

It’s no little extra; the Conservatorium was the first hotel in the Netherlands to be awarded the Green Globe certification (in 2012, a year after opening), recognising its commitment to sustainability and social responsibility and brought to life through sustainable sourcing, water conservation, energy efficiency and support of community development, among other things.  

On arrival, as one of the hotel’s helpful porters subtly sweeps your bags up to your room, relax and enjoy a glass of champagne or take the optional, historic tour of the property. Rooms bear (more) champagne – set to cool on ice and to be enjoyed with a delicious selection of petit fours and an almost too-cute-to-eat chocolate recreation of the building itself – a truly treasurable extra. 

The To-Do List

Museums & Galleries 

Beyond the brilliant Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh and MOCO museums, all just steps from the hotel, the Stedelijk Museum has just opened an exhibition from the legendary Marina Abramović, running from 16 March – 14 July 2024. FOAM photography museum is a must for fashion and design enthusiasts, exhibiting a cross-section of photographic genres. Its Photography Through The Lens of AI exhibition opens on 31 May 2024, and the Viviane Sassen Phosphor: Art & Fashion exhibition will run from 20 September 2024; both are set to be highlights this year.

To The Tulips

Until mid-May, fields around the city are carpeted in resplendent tulip buds. The national flower can be seen in all its forms across the Netherlands, with rows of silky violet, red and sunny yellow petals in full bloom. The frilly-edged parrot tulip, double petal and large triumph varieties are some of the most magnificent. Roughly an hour south of the city by car or train, Keukenhof Gardens, Noordwijk and Lisse are some of the best spots to see them.


Once a month, Amsterdam hosts Europe’s largest flea market, IJ-Hallen in Noord, and it’s a must for those who love a coffee-in-hand market stroll. But there are plenty of other markets to choose from throughout the week, too – highlights include the Saturday market in Jordaan and Noordermarkt, with stalls selling everything from traditional Dutch cheese to fruits and vegetables, flowers and antiques.

Bakeries & Brasseries

The Dutch bakery scene is beginning to rival that of London and Paris, visit plant-based SAINT-JEAN BAKERY for its pistachio croughnut before hopping across the road to newly-opened pastry and wine bar, SAINT-JEAN DELI. Stop at Café Marcella for an afternoon wine in the sun by the canal, or head to Brasserie Margaux for dinner, a trendy spot frequented by locals.

The Canals

If taking a boat along the canals doesn’t strike an all-too-touristy nerve, Pure Boats do a spectacular evening canal cruise on a traditional Dutch wooden boat. If you’re visiting during the winter, don’t miss the Amsterdam Light Festival (28 November 2024 to 19 January 2025).

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