Booking a hotel used to be a relatively easy procedure – find the hotel in a guide you trusted, check whether they have space and you can afford it, and then pay. Nowadays the hotel world has become hugely more complicated with the rumbling uncertainty about never paying more than you need to. And, always, once you are committed, you come across the website that tells you how truly awful the place is. So, it is somewhat disconcerting to find that comments on the College Hotel in Amsterdam include an unexpected number in the ‘terrible’ and ‘poor’ categories. The problem seems to be that the College is indeed what it says over the door, a college, given to training young hotel workers yet the tariff is very strictly tied to what some sites describe as a ‘celebrity-studded and award-winning hotel in stylish Amsterdam’. And the training aspect and the expectations raised by the marketing blurb have, seemingly, not always gone well together.
The College Hotel is most conveniently placed in Amsterdam, a brisk ten-minute canal walk from the lengthy queues for the newly refurbished Rijksmuseum, some minutes more for shopping, and well-served with a range of restaurants. If taking a taxi, expect to be dropped the wrong side of a busy road with tramlines and when returned to Amsterdam main railway station expect to be dropped a similar distance from the main entrance, across main roads. It seems to be a Dutch custom. (And, if you are travelling to Amsterdam through Brussels, try to give the toilets in Brussels main railway station a miss as there is a good chance of having your bag pinched.)
The College Hotel is undoubtedly stylish and very Dutch with a striking brick exterior and spacious corridors and public areas, all sharply decorated and all staffed by young people , very anxious to please. The bedroom we had was up in the roof with the timber showing. The decoration was sharp, the bed comfortable, and the bathroom perfectly tidy with all that you might expect. Whether the two steps down from the bed to the bathroom level could cause problems after a heavy evening, well, that we never found out.
The tasting menu for dinner was expensive and included lots of decorative flourishes and technical achievements but was perhaps just a little short of food. The breakfast was limited but with a range of cooked options.
As for the students, I can only say that the service at The College was all that one might expect of a high-end hotel – so my congratulations to them. I do wonder, however, about the teaching staff who perhaps should have noticed that much of the breakfast crockery was chipped, that fresh fruit was kept uncovered, and that the tables were sadly scarred and scratched. These are things that you should not expect, whether in a training hotel or anywhere else.
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