Going Dutch at an Amsterdam Hotel

In Maurits, the Pillows boutique hotel offers elegant intimacy and a private art collection that includes the likes of Picasso and Klimt.



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BECAUSE I’M A native New Yorker (full transparency – Long Island), trains are not a novelty. Since I moved to Paris, however, where I’m now able to take trains to, is. In New York, I could get on the Amtrak at Penn Station and, after three hours, arrive in Boston. Here, I’m at Gare du Nord waiting for the high-speed Eurostar to take me to Amsterdam.

I’m not trying to throw any shade on Boston – great city – but you’d be hard-pressed to communicate the differences between NYC and old Beantown (socially, culturally, architecturally) without having spent a good amount of time in each place.

Alternatively, when I get off the train in Amsterdam, there is no ambiguity whatsoever. I am somewhere else, completely. Architecturally, the charming, narrow sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Dutch Baroque canal houses are in stark contrast to the imposing nineteenth-century Haussmann buildings that comprise 60% of the City of Light’s housing stock and line Paris’ wide boulevards. There are also thousands (literally, thousands) of bicycles, everywhere in Amsterdam. Both cities are home to world-renowned museums, restaurants, and hotels but, simultaneously, quite different in how they’re presented. This is particularly clear when I walk through the doors of the Pillows Grand Boutique Hotel Maurits at the Park.



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The newest Pillows property is housed in the former University of Amsterdam dissection laboratory. It’s nearly 50-foot-high ceilings create an immediate sense of grandeur, but the soft, understated tones of the interiors (designed by the Studio Linse), along with the hyper-amicable staff, facilitate an accessibility not often associated with research centers.

A thoughtful, welcoming warmth is apparent in every aspect of the building’s design, which is clearly intentional. This is a five-star, luxury hotel, no question, but, what you often find with a property of this caliber is a sort of stodgy separation between the hotel and its surroundings – a calving, if you will, with the intention of engulfing the guest in an immersive hotel experience. Alternatively, at the Pillows Maurits, these barriers aren’t simply absent – they have been intentionally removed. Fences that once surrounded the university have been taken down, opening the property to the Oosterpark, welcoming park-goers to the property, and vice versa. There’s a Dutch proverb that goes something like, “It’s better to have a good neighbor than a far friend.” While a little digging revealed that this is actually a slightly modernized iteration of something found in Proverbs, it still rings true. The mindfulness with which the building was renovated clearly communicates a commitment not just to maintaining the aesthetic of the community, but also to fostering and developing it, as a good neighbor does.


It is all quite impressively Dutch.

This earnest, mindful trend continues throughout the interior, creating the impression of staying with a friend who has a lot of money, great vibes, and really good taste. A small, family-run group owns the hotel, and its sense of intimacy is in no small way attributable to the impeccably curated art selection featured from the owners’ private collection. Nearly 90 works are hung throughout the building, including dozens of erotic Gustav Klimt sketches, a Matisse (“Odalisque au Coffret Rouge”), and a Picasso (“Portrait of Dora Maar”). The Picasso is casually mounted in the far corner of Fitz’s Bar, the dark and moody cocktail lounge that feels like the back room of a Prohibition-era Ratner’s.

On a quick trip to a property like this, I would be happy to spend all of that time at the hotel, eating, sleeping, and reading. My wife, alternatively, for better or worse, is incapable of sitting still, and arrived desperate to see the Vermeer exhibition, opening that weekend at the Rijksmuseum.

However, opening weekend of a once-in-a-lifetime show: You won’t be surprised to hear it had been sold out for months. The exhibit was a huge deal and, frankly, I knew we weren’t getting in. But someone neglected to tell the Pillows Maurits concierge that, because after nearly 12 hours of phone calls, emails, and text messages, this impossibly well-mannered, vertically gifted archetype of Dutch reserve (also, not coincidentally, a member of the renowned Les Clefs d’Or), found out how we could secure tickets.

While I’m not a huge fan of Dutch Baroque painters, the show was beautiful, and I was certainly able to appreciate the artist’s obsessive nature. But, really, more importantly, I appreciated the wild commitment that concierge Stefan Laarman had shown to get us into the show.

Unfortunately for us, the hotel was hosting an event in the VanOost restaurant, which prevented us from being able to experience it. We did, however, have the privilege of sampling a tasting menu orchestrated by the chef at the Spring Cafe Brasserie, and I’m a little embarrassed to report that I took home (yes, home, like on the train, with luggage) several boxes of the chef’s offerings because they were so good that I couldn’t imagine not at least trying to share, with my kids, one aspect of a truly lovely experience.

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Our Contributors

Jeremy Malman Writer

Jeremy Malman is a part-time journalist and full-time dad based in Brooklyn. His writing explores topics including motorsports, design, fitness, farming, and fatherhood — in other words, some conceptually comical notion of modern masculinity. He also really enjoys traveling.

Kasia Gatkowska Photographer

Kasia Gatkowska is Polish by origin but has been based in Amsterdam for the past 34 years. Her work has appeared in interior design magazines worldwide, such as Elle Decoration, Vogue Living, Casa Vogue, Architectural Digest, T Magazine, Conde Nast Traveller, Frame, and more. She has collaborated with leading architects and design brands such as Vincenzo De Cotiis, Massimo Adario, Lissoni Associati, Vincent van Duysen, Porro, Foscarini, Salvatori, Nike, Hermès, and Patek Philippe.


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