Craig spends a few days in the Netherlands visiting Amsterdam and saying in the Inntel Hotels Amsterdam Zaandam Hotel.
After getting bored with the usual two weeks on a sunbed in baking heat we decided it was time to get a bit more cultured and take some city breaks. With Budapest, Marrakesh, Reykjavik and Prague under our belts we decided it was time to visit Amsterdam.
I’ll cover the trip in two posts as I simply have too much to tell you in one post, and I’d hate to bore you!
We all know about the drug culture and the red light districts, and I am sure that these two things have resulted in some couples deciding to give Amsterdam a miss. All I will say about this is that it’s there if you want it, but it’s so easily avoided and while we didn’t go out of our way to make sure we didn’t engage with these pursuits, we didn’t see or here a single example of either. So be confident that if either of these things is offensive to you that it’s not what Amsterdam is all about.
We wanted something slightly more cultured from our visit, we wanted to eat well, see the sights, rest up and do the things that you just don’t do in every day life like visit museums and take a canal trip.
While most days we spent in the centre of Amsterdam we stayed just a ten minute train ride away in Zaandam (pronounced Zan Darm), which while very close to Amsterdam has an entirely different feel.
Historically Zaandam was a milling centre with thousands of windmills dotting the landscape, sawing wood for the ship building industry. Over the years it has had a couple of face lifts like those below in 1953 and 1960, but nothing like the most recent one which saw the Inntel Amsterdam Zaandam hotel built in 2010, which is where we stayed for the duration of our visit.
Zaandam is a quirky lego town of relaxation. The buildings are all very individual and offer something completely different to what you’re probably used to from a city break. While the hustle and bustle of Amsterdam city centre is a short ride away, Zaandam is calm, almost tranquil.
THE INNTEL AMSTERDAM ZAANDAM HOTEL
Right on the doorstep of Zaandam train station, this hotel has to be one of the most architecturally interesting hotels in the world. Constructed out of 70 different traditional style dutch houses, it’s an incredible sight, and I have seen nothing like it before.
As you’d expect from an Inntel Hotel, it’s super stylish, and each room is themed around a historical aspect of Zaandam. The Taste Deluxe room focuses on the tastes of the local area while the Craft Deluxe room centres on traditional crafts.
We stayed in the Tsar Peter Suite, named directly after Peter The Great, historic ruler of the Russian empire who stayed in Zaandam to learn ship building. This is a special room in the Hotel, as while other rooms are repeated across its 159 rooms, this room is the only one of it’s kind in the entire hotel.
With designer lighting, bathroom fittings by Alessi and an Illy coffee machine it’s a great room. The bed is huge and super comfortable, plus it’s fun to have to climb up steps to go to bed. It’s not a large room by any means but it was more than adequate for us humble travellers.
If you want to go a little more fancy take a look at the Founders Suite which boasts two separate areas and comes with it’s own sauna, whirlpool bath and coffee machine, as well as comfy slippers and bath robes. Not only that but it’s on the twelfth floor so you can imagine the views!
The hotel itself is very well designed and boasts a good sized restaurant and breakfast area, a great reception with a spiral staircase which leads to various meetings rooms, and a stunning deck where you can watch the sun go down while enjoying a glass of wine and listening to the water rush by beneath you, directly from the Hotels own waterfall which cascades just outside the restaurant windows.
While we didn’t use the fitness suite we did stop by on our way for a morning swim in the pool. Had I bought my running kit I may have made use of a running machine but as our case was already over weight we decided to leave it at home!
In the fitness suite there’s more opportunity to unwind, as the Hotel also has a sauna and steam room. You can even book a massage to really de-stress.
EATING AT THE HOTEL
Of course we ate while at the hotel, and I highly recommend that you have at least one meal there. We thoroughly enjoyed every plate of food that was presented to us.
We started with olives, bread and a selection of dips. That was followed by tartar of summer vegetables with poached egg along with soup of the day.
For main course we had the Greek marinated chicken which was an absolute delight in its filo pastry case and coupled with feta cheese, olives and yogurt dip. In addition we had the home made linguine with summer vegetables, basil oil and brandrood cheese.
Desert was amazing! The chocolate truffle tart served with nougat ice cream and Grand Marnier orange was incredible and I stopped just short of licking the plate.
We also sampled the Mocha Special which consisted of mocha ice cream, mocha whipped cream and mocha foam, again not to be missed!
While Zaandam is a much more relaxed option to Amsterdam, it still plays host to a really good array of shops. You’ll find many high street favourites such as Zara, Primark and H&M alongside more boutique stores, all either side of the water ways which run through the city.
Further on as you get to the older part of the town you’ll find a selection of cafes and restaurants, all at reasonable prices and offering a wide variety of dishes.
So if you’re planning a city break but want something a little different to impress your friends, please consider Zaandam as a place to stay. As a little insider tip, the Hotel does get busy in April and May due to the tulip season. July is less busy and you’ll easily get a room in December.
Just 12 minutes from Amsterdam with the train station a stones through from the Hotel it really is an ideal location.
In part two I’ll take you through what we did in Amsterdam and also show you the stunning windmills of Zaanse Schans. Thanks for stopping by.