Last month, Sauce Travel was lucky enough to spend an indulgent weekend at the Conservatorium in Amsterdam. Part of The Set, a collection of luxury, design-led hotels, the Conservatorium has been both a bank and a musical school through its famed history but is now enjoyed as a fantastic hotel by both guests and locals alike.
Arriving at Heathrow on a cold, dark and miserable morning in February at 5 o’clock is never anyone’s idea of fun, but thanks to the wonderful British Airways staff, before we knew what was happening, we had landed in Amsterdam, welcomed by a crisp sunny morning.
Having checked into our rooms, complete with mezzanine bedroom and two bathrooms (and personalised key card) – one hidden behind the enormous bed, we were whisked across Museumplein to the world famous Rijksmuseum, just a stone’s throw from the Conservatorium. Our fantastic guide gave us a whistle-stop tour of the museum, including some of his personal favourites and the renowned collection of moody Dutch masterpieces by Rembrandt and Vermeer.
For us at Sauce, it is impossible to go anywhere without eating our bodyweight in food. Luckily, the Conservatorium’s Executive Chef Schilo van Coevorden has truly excelled with the culinary options at the hotel. After a tiring two hour tour of the Rijksmuseum, a feast of gin and tonics and sushi had been laid out in the hotel’s Tunes Bar, a chic hangout for the elegant socialites of the city – think low lighting and intimate booths. The bar is famous in Amsterdam for its gins – the list of cocktails and infusions is extensive and bartenders will create anything guests fancy. Needless to say, we managed to force a few down!
The activities continued well into the afternoon, with a classic bike tour over the beautiful series of interconnecting canals to the red light district – the quick but essential trip made us all realise that we had definitely picked the right part of town! My heart went out to our fearless guide Romy who had to deal with six totally incompetent cyclists who couldn’t work out stop signs, crossroads, riding on the opposite side of the road, and sometimes even the pedals.
Back in the safety of the hotel, more feasts had been prepared and this time in the form of the eight-course tasting menu at Taiko. For four hours, we sat (next to Raymond Blanc may I add!) and indulged in the most divine Asian-inspired food I have ever tried. Highlights included succulent wagyu beef served on its own charcoal grill, the tastiest dim sum imaginable and super-fresh watermelon sashimi. I say those are highlights but in fact there wasn’t anything that wasn’t a highlight!
The next morning after a very deep sleep in the enormous bed (which had been turned down with a personal note and lavender sleep spray), it was straight to the spa for a well-earned leisurely morning. The swimming pool is very very cool…
Finally, a trip to Amsterdam couldn’t be complete without properly experiencing the canals – and the Conservatorium won again. We met our captain behind the Rijksmuseum with his beautiful little private boat that would look more at home in Venice. For the next couple of hours, we meandered through the canal system, sipping glasses of champagne from the boat’s bar, watching the sun go down over the city – the perfect end to a fantastic weekend.
Thank you so much to the Conservatorium for hosting us over the weekend, we will not be able to experience Amsterdam in any other fashion again!
Sauce Travel x