There's a reason one survey company found that hotel customers' emotional connection with their lodging rose or fell on interactions with staff members. Staff makes the difference between a hotel visit that's as comfortable as a feather bed with servants rubbing you down with Cristal and waving palm fronds over your furrowed brow, or one that feels like you're enduring an 18-hour flight in an economy-class airline seat when bathroom's broken.
That's why the NL-Hotel Museumplein ultimately was a reasonable-priced haven in a city where the best hotels have a cost the 1% can afford but only if they fire one of the butlers first, or decide to rent a yacht instead of buy.
First, as its name implies, the hotel's set right next to the Museumplien, meaning it's within 15 minutes' walk to the Stedelijk Museum, the Van Gogh museum, the Rijksmuseum, and Vondelpark. It's also near several outstanding restaurants, including Cafe Pompa, Cafe Toussaint, and the College Hotel. If you want to save money and shop at a market, an Albert Heijn supermarket is just a few steps away from the Stedelijk.
With all of the city's offerings (pot, half-naked girls in windows and, oh, yeah, Vermeers and Rembrandts you can go visit like they're a next door neighbor), you may not spend a great deal of time in your room. But if you do, you'll enjoy the most comfortable bed I've ever had the pleasure to drop into an inebriated slumber on. While rooms are small -it's Europe, people, not the Grand Canyon- the diminutive size is compensated for by the stylish design and amenities. The room had four cabinets for storage and a safe; good lighting (including reading lights next to your bed); a bathroom with decent space for toiletries, excellent water pressure, and a built-in hairdryer. The beds have enough open space beneath them to slide your suitcase in. There's a coffee machine to satisfy your 24-hour-a-day coffee jones.The housekeeping staff is outstanding. Free wifi is available in the rooms and throughout the hotel.
Downstairs, the quirky design reflects the hotel's relaxed charm. Cut-out figures adorn the front window, while a photo mosaic of Vermeer's Girl with the Pearl Earring (great,though not as luminous as The Kitchen Maid, but that's not important right now) adorns the eating area, along with a lovely selection of Delft plates arranged on the wall.
Speaking of eating, the morning breakfast was substantive, including cereals, croissants and other pastries, fruits, sliced cold cuts, hard-boiled eggs, yogurts, orange and apple juices and coffee. Bottled waters and sodas were available were purchase too, if you want something to take with you when you leave for the day.
All of that would have earned the hotel several stars, but the staff was the gild on this lily. Fun, friendly, always willing to find a restaurant for you or map out how to get from point A to point B, concerned over any little problem that crops up, the staff, collectively became one of NL-Hotel Museumplein's truest attractions -and one of the best reasons to return.