Netherlands: The Dylan
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AddressThe Dylan, Keizersgracht 384 1016 GB Amsterdam , Netherlands 31/20/530-2010 dylanamsterdam.com
Vinkeles on the Water, a chef's table concept aboard a fully renovated canal boat.
The Dylan's signature "High Wine," a late afternoon food and wine pairing.
Explore Amsterdam on the seat of a rented a bicycle from the front desk. (The bikes, custom-designed for the hotel by Johnny Loco, have extra wide tires to avoid the tram tracks and gaps in the streets.)
- 40 unique rooms and suites
- Michelin-starred Vinkeles restaurant
- In-room spa treatments and massages
- Private boat tours
In the course of an instant, the private, gated courtyard of the Dylan winks out from a crack in the architecturally impenetrable streets of Amsterdam, a pinhole in the endless procession of prim and tidy townhouses which tower along the Keizersgracht like spines on a densely-packed bookshelf. Two silver-haired porters in smart, dark suits graciously relieve us of our bags and welcome us with a humanizing dignity that is so often lacking in the anonymous life of a traveler. The swell of relief only grows—a process expertly-designed, it seems—as we explore the grand structure and its comforts more deeply.
Our shoulders un-yoked from trunk and valise, we positively swan through a large door held open by a handsome young chap who looks fresh off a modeling assignment, and are shown to a cool slate-and-white receiving lobby with towering ceilings. Sharply-dressed women greet us fluidly in our native tongue, and a silver salver of tart and refreshing sangria is offered. We are seated, handed the dossier which will brief us on the many features, and easily absorbed into the cocoon of genteel luxury which has appeared magically just off the hot, gritty sidewalk.
Our suite would be in the Dylan's "Kimono" style, with gentle Japanese inflections integrated seamlessly into the big-boned old eighteenth-century building. Our quarters are an utterly isolating sanctuary, a nest within a nest, which completely eradicates any memory of the outside world. As the feng shui and artfully-placed, color-coordinated apples calmed my frazzled soul, the fortress-like silence envelopes us.
The suite's bathing facilities are up an artfully curved staircase and out of sight, a floor unto themselves. On the dark stone counter are custom-manufactured soaps and lotions, mixed to the Dylan's specifications, and, our guide charmingly tells us, tested on the employees. The sycamore and fig-scented creams will freshen us in the bespoke bouquets of the orchid-strewn Dylan, making us belong in many senses.
After hearing of our dinner desires during check-in, the concierge has made us a list of several suggestions, all within convenient walking distance. Though they have their own fine-dining restaurant—Vinkeles, with its immaculate kitchen, sumptuous dining room, and elegant, classically French-based menu—they are proud to serve as a home base for the Michelin-hungry, well-heeled set, and with nearly 100 starred restaurants in Holland, there is no finer jumping-off point. We linger in the handsome lounge to collect ourselves before dinner, enjoying a flight of amuses paired with wine by the Vinkeles' excellent sommelier.
The lunar calm of the rooms is a godsend after a tourist's long hours of tromping the endless cobbled streets, and nothing less than soul-deep respite is available in the room. After a long, hot soak in the spacious tub, a cozy wrap in a plush terrycloth robe, and a glass of wine, to settle into the crisp white sheets is to surrender to a sleep so thoroughly restorative that to awake the next day, and realize that one is, indeed, at the Dylan, is to enjoy the pleasure of arrival all over again. —Chris Onstad
In the Area
- De Carrousel: This is the place to go for good pannenkoeken in Amsterdam. The Dutch take on the pancake is thin like a crêpe and dinner-plate-sized, made by skillet- frying a buckwheat flour batter. Sweet and savory pannenkoeken toppings abound at De Carrousel—from snow-white icing sugar to cheese and mushrooms—but they're not the only thing that recommends it. The restaurant is housed in an old carousel, located across the street from the Heineken brewery, and right beside one of the city's best playgrounds, where the ample, sturdy tire swing is truly exemplary. — Eesha Sardesai
Weteringcircuit 1; tel: 31/20/625-8002
- Café In' t Aepjen: At once one of Amsterdam's oldest and newest bruin, or brown, cafés, Café In' t Aepjen is housed in a late medieval wooden house—one of the last still standing in the city—but the ground floor only became a café in 1990. The walls are dark wood and the lights are warm; there's gin, apple pie, and soft conversation. — E.S.
Zeedjik 1; tel: 020/428-8291; cafeintaepjen.nl
- De Admiraal: Jenever, geneva, or Dutch gin is distilled from the pungent, piney juniper berry, after which it's named. Jenevers are served in bruine cafés and tasting houses throughout Amsterdam, but for the authentic experience head to De Admiraal in the city centre. There, between the used-cask tables and pot still kitchen, one can try old jenevers from A.van Wees Distilleerderij De Ooievar, Amsterdam's last remaining authentic distillery. — E.S.
distillery. Tastingroom De Admiraal: Herengracht 319, 1016 AV; tel: 020/625 4334; proflokaaldeadmiraal.nl/en
- Albert Cuypmarkt (Albert Cuyp Market): Two-hundred-sixty stalls snake down Albert Cuypstraat in Amsterdam's Latin quarter. They're there six days a week, forming the city's largest outdoor markt, and beneath their breezy canopies one can buy flowers, jewelry, clothing, and, of course, Dutch food. This means yeasty, syrup- filled stroopwafels baked to order, frites with mayonnaise, dozens of fresh cheeses and produce, and raw herring crusted with pickles and chopped onion. The herring you're supposed to eat out of hand, dangling it over your mouth in a feat of haring happen. — E.S.
Albert Cuypmarkt; albertcuypmarkt.nl
- Tempo Doeloe: One of the most exciting facets of Dutch cuisine isn't even purely Dutch; it's rijstaffel, an Indonesian feast tailored to Dutch interests, a product of long colonization in Southeast Asia. Tempo Doeloe offers a solid rijstaffel, or "rice table," with bowls of sweet and savory stews, meats, fish, and spicy vegetables planted between mounds of rice. For dessert, try the pisang goreng, a flambée of bananas in Grand Marnier. — E.S.
Utrechtsestraat 75; tel: 020/625-6718; tempodoeloerestaurant.nl