One of only five Legend-level Sofitel properties in the world, the Hotel Sofitel Legend the Grand Amsterdam has the fare, service, and guests to live up to the designation. Stepping off the redeye from Washington, DC, I joined Ninon, a young, worldly Dutch woman of the Sofitel hospitality team, to hear about the hotel, history, and unique culture of Amsterdam.
The hotel itself, like all Grand Sofitels, is built on an historic property. The “Grand” designation, saved only for Sofitel properties in Amsterdam, Cartagena, Hanoi, Xi’an, and Aswan, indicate the rich historical importance of the location. In this case, the Grand Amsterdam welcomes diplomats and distinguished guests on the grounds of the former Town Hall of Amsterdam. The site of many important events spanning centuries, including the (relatively) recent marriage of the country’s then-Queen (now Princess) Beatrice in 1966, the Grand Amsterdam’s significance is tangible from the moment one walks into the beautifully-appointed lobby.
The dining room sprawls across several rooms on the first floor and even through the leafy courtyard–unfortunately closed due to torrential rain on this particular morning, and approximately two out of every three mornings in this city. Throughout our breakfast, we’re greeted by a team of roving staff who ensure our comfort and happiness: a waitress to take our a la carte menu orders; a hostess showing us to the breakfast buffet full of traditional Dutch treats like sugar bread and no fewer than six kinds of peanut butter spreads including white chocolate and hazelnut; a barista who presents me with a specially-made juice packed with about a dozen fruits and roots that’s “perfect for busy travelers;” and even a woman doling out champagne to any guest who’s willing (It’s 9:45 AM and I’ve just arrived from a redeye with a day full of sightseeing ahead of me. She is clearly speaking my language).
We are sitting in Bridges, the Michelin-star restaurant of the Grand Amsterdam that attracts travelers and locals alike. The famed breakfast spread is currently up for the Villegiature Awards for the best of its kind in hotels across Europe, and its fellow competitors are up against a tough act to beat. The French toast is described to me as “legendary,” by my server, and I see why. I am not much of a sweet tooth, though many foods in Holland are quite starchy, sugary, and chocolatey (and, incidentally, yummy). The French toast is incredibly fluffy. There is plenty of egg richness, with every bite giving way to a chewy, scrumptious interior. This is undoubtedly a must-order item, no matter your usual palate.
We also sample the Norwegian Benedict, similar to its recognizable brunch counterpart with a few key differences. Instead of an English muffin, this hearty dish is served atop a flaky bun. The hollandaise is perfectly tangy, which contrasts beautifully against cured salmon. The meal is rounded out with a light yogurt bowl, purple in color from acai berries that have become very trendy in the city.
Though not at all stuffy, elegant touches across the hotel and restaurant are constant reminders that you are, indeed, in a 5-star luxury hotel. One of the key tenets of all Sofitel properties is to give guests “le cousu main,” which literally means “hand sewn” but indicates providing something a little extra, above and beyond the expected, to each guest. I see this in my special surprise juice that’s delivered by the mixologist, and in the curated “sweets” tray the hostess sends over. It includes a waffle, crepe, Dutch waffle, and American-style waffle, along with cherries, mixed berries, and syrup and nutella spread.
The hotel building itself dates back to 1411. Since then, royalty from every corner of Europe have visited or stayed. In the 17th century, the building housed the admiralty that are responsible for making Amsterdam the canal city that it still is today. In 1808, the building became the city of the Town Square. The Town Square was only later moved to another part of town because of Napoleon, who gave his younger brother Louis Holland in 1806. Bridges, one of four restaurants of the hotel, was former the canteen (cafeteria) for the workers of Town Hall.
Located between two gentle canals in the heart of the city, Sofitel Legend The Grand Amsterdam boasts a rich history. From 15th-century convent to royal lodgings to Dutch Admiralty headquarters to the city hall of Amsterdam. The Grand offers five-star luxury in a unique “Amsterdam” ambiance, furnished with French elegance and grandeur. The rooms, restaurant Bridges, the banqueting halls and the beautiful Garden Terrace captivate and seduce everyone into visiting the hotel. Cuisine is distinctly influenced by the school of French grandmaster, Paul Bocuse, the founder of international culinary arts. For more information, visit www.sofitel.com/Hotel/Amsterdam.