The first time I ever appreciated art and design as an adult was in Amsterdam. I was 21, tagging along on a work trip with my boyfriend, with five days to spend in a strange city on my own. It's amazing how much you take in when you're seeing a new place without someone by your side. I wandered through the flea markets and flower stalls, got lost lusting after the merchants' mansions along the canals, read books at countless cafes, and spent an entire hour silent and enraptured in front of Rembrandt's "Night Watch" at the Rijksmusueum. I fell hard for the mix of classic facades and cutting-edge design. If I could pick one city to wake up in tomorrow, it would be Amsterdam, and my hotel of choice would be the newly opened Hotel V Nesplein.
Like its sister property, Hotel V (also in Amsterdam), the place is run by 11th-generation Amsterdammers, and their love for the city is evident in every detail. Behind a smart and buttoned-up exterior lies an atmosphere that combines industrial chic and theatrical flair and makes it all look seamless. The concrete stairwell above, for example, is hung with old black-and-white showbiz posters, a tribute to the hotel's setting on Amsterdam's theater strip. Loving the mix of finishes and textures that make up this reception area. The oversized mirror leaning casually against a wall, the exposed pipes along the ceiling, the threadbare-looking rug underneath an almost 10-foot-tall chandelier: elegant yet quirky, much like the city itself.I admire any hotel with a good reading library, and this one in the Lobby (as the property's central living area and restaurant are known) does justice to its sink-right-into-me armchair and deep-seated sofa. Oh, and the bar-cart–meets-globe doesn't hurt. The floor-to-ceiling drapery (again, evoking the theater-district setting) provides a sumptuous backdrop to the proceedings.The bar, above, is lit like a stage set; guest rooms, such as the one below, combine artfully mismatched furnishings with a utilitarian bent, including the metal desk chair and the bare-bones floor lamp in a corner.(Photos courtesy of Hotel V Nesplein)
Above, a canal scene at dusk, complete with houseboats; just a little glimpse of the city that awakened my aesthetic imagination.