Walk a little too quickly, and you might just miss the Dylan, a hotel tucked seamlessly between the tall canal houses of Amsterdam’s Gratchengordel district. Arguably one of the nicest—and most magical—Dutch neighborhoods of all, the famed canal district gives off a palpable charm, though it’s hard to put a finger on exactly why. Whether it’s the vibrant energy of the boutiques and buzzing cafes by day or the romantically lit and tranquil canals by night, the neighborhood will surely give you a good feeling.
From the outside, the Dylan looks like it has been taken out of a fairytale. White and enchanting, the building stands tall, yet flawlessly camouflaged among its surroundings. High iron gates and a small, cobblestone courtyard lead into the marble lobby, where reception welcomes you like a treasured friend.
If the main exterior of the hotel sounds more rustic, the rooms in contrast, are very contemporary. Take for example the junior canal suite, characterized by black, white, and deep purple accents that form a sharp and sleek interior. The view of the glistening Keizersgracht canal outside the window balances the room’s modernity, while giving guests a most dreamy sight to take in. The bath area is spotless, with a spacious bathtub, minimalist rain shower, and toilet separated by sliding frosted doors. Hefty bathrobes and slippers are laid out too, ensuring your stay will be a comfortable one.
Signature Suites Jacob van Campen
Unlike those of conventional hotel chains, rooms at the Dylan each speak to their own character, with no room like the one before it. Designs range from vivid to demure, and deep jades, luscious oranges, and bright linens accent a handful of suites, while more neutral tones warm others. Subtle touches of wood and glass neutralize the eclectic details through and through. Look carefully, and you might even notice that in all quarters, from the rooms to the main areas, there’s a delicate touch of white orchids–the Dylan’s official flower.
I meet Venke Schoenmaker, executive of Sales and Marketing of the Dylan, who greets me in the polished, antique lounge, a space that breathes life from years past. With high, earth-toned ceilings and a vintage fireplace, it tells the story of the Dylan’s humble beginnings. Historically an 18th century theatre, the building transformed into a charitable foundation after being seized by fire. It remained as such for the next two hundred years, helping the poor and disadvantaged. In 1999, it was completely renovated into a boutique hotel, but hints of history live harmoniously within the hotel walls.
Vinkeles, the Dylan’s Michelin starred, French inspired restaurant, is a prime example. Here you can see the same ovens used when the building was a charity, and the space, while exquisite and luxurious, remains intimate and cozy. Today, Executive Chef Dennis Kuipers serves up the ever-evolving menu, composed of the highest quality ingredients here. The restaurant kitchen houses an even more hidden treasure, the chef’s table, where two can splurge and dine right beside the chef. With an old school bar, contemporary dining hall, and multiple eclectic reception areas, the Dylan marries the sharply modern with the feeling of warm comfort.
Humility is the heart of the Dylan’s charm, and it’s apparent in every encounter, service, and detail. Venke describes it as a “discreet beauty,” and she could not be more accurate. There’s nothing about the hotel that is loud or flashy, and the elegance, though very much present, speaks modestly for itself. As we explore through its narrow halls and twisting staircases, Venke shares with me a fun fact: previously named the Blake, the hotel was once significantly sharp in décor, heavy in angular blacks and whites. The name change seemed to spearhead a more egalitarian, memorable, and inviting atmosphere. “It just sounds more pleasing to the ear, doesn’t it?” she asks with a smile.
With a total of 60 rooms, the Dylan is surely boutique, intimate enough to make you feel truly at home though you may be far from it. Every member of the staff is multilingual, and given that 85 percent of its guests are international, offering the best service to every individual is a tall order that the Dylan carries out with confidence. Like a good friend, every staff member you encounter is extremely thoughtful, always knowing what you’ll want or need next without being intrusive or overbearing.
And while there’s a world of luxury within its gates, there’s no denying that the Dylan lies against an unbeatable backdrop. Sitting on Amsterdam’s most prime real estate, the hotel is located minutes from Westerpark, the Anne Frank Museum, Van Gogh museum, Rijskmuseum, and the world’s only floating flower garden. Enlivened by the pulse of the city’s heart, but grounded by its serendipitous charm, the Dylan is the classic definition of a hidden gem—so don’t let it pass you.