The Old South (Oud-Zuid) district of Amsterdam is, according to the owners of the boutique hotel De Ware Jacob, a miniature version of Chelsea in London. They are not wrong. The leafy residential neighborhood home to the Museum Quarter and famous Vondelpark has a chic village feel and is dotted with stylish cafes where equally stylish locals meet for after-work aperitifs and weekend brunch. The discerning shopper’s paradise that is Pieter Cornelisz Hooftstraat is also a lookalike of Sloane Street with its assortment of top boutiques including Hermès, Gucci and Chanel.
The hotel, a grand and slender building erected in 1920, is a fine example of traditional Amsterdam School architecture, notable for its decorative brickwork. Like many properties in this exclusive neighborhood, it has a rich and poignant history: it was once home to a Jewish family who emigrated from Russia after the revolution. Tragically, when World War II broke out, the owners were arrested and deported to the concentration camps of Auschwiz and Sobibor. Look closely at the sidewalks and you will see brass plaques etched under the thresholds of the houses honoring the Jewish residents who once resided there.
Inside the hotel
Owners Andre and Tania have overseen a two-year top-to-bottom renovation of the block, christening their new boutique in 2020. As a result, interiors feel fresh and spacious and every surface gleams with newness.
Influenced by a refined yet understated style, interiors are welcoming and sophisticated with only a hint of color in the form of modern artwork and ornaments collected during the couple’s travels around the world. A gem breakfast/lounge area on the ground floor leads to a garden terrace whose centerpiece is a magnificent magnolia tree.
Nineteen uncluttered rooms exude a refined and warm atmosphere, as if you were staying in the spare room of a chic interior designer. Nothing seems unnecessary and everything is carefully selected, from illy coffee machines and rich white cotton bed linen to elegant lighting by Dutch designer William Brand and luxurious M-line beds equipped with “deep sleep” technology. These comfortable mattresses were used by the Netherlands team during the Olympics, which certainly speaks to their gold standard.
A family atmosphere
“We have a son and we always struggled to stay in high quality hotels when he was little,” Tania said. For this reason, the De Ware Jacob is particularly suitable for families. There is a bunk room for tweens/teens as well as a 30m² family room with two queen beds pushed together. For those who want complete self-sufficiency, the hotel also has two one-bedroom apartments with kitchenettes. The couple also thought deeply about what kids (and parents) want after a long day exploring the city: namely great Wi-Fi, Netflix and Apple TV, and an honesty bar.
Breakfast is quick and easy with a generous buffet of fresh croissants, homemade granola, local Dutch cheeses, cold cuts, eggs and waffles. Try organic Georgian wines made using the natural Qvevri method, in which large earthenware pots are sunk into the ground for fermentation, storage and aging processes without chemicals or additives.
Eat and drink
As it’s a quiet residential area, restaurants are a mix of family-friendly restaurants such as the nearby pizzeria Le 4 Stagioni (established in 1978) and upscale brasseries like George on nearby Williams Park Avenue which owns various branches in the Netherlands. The latter specializes in French cuisine fused with American classics with signatures such as glazed black tuna, duck confit and, of course, oozing stacked burgers. The cocktails are great too.
What to do
Vondelpark is the largest park in Amsterdam and the perfect place for a picnic or a bike ride. Hidden gems in the park include the 19th century neo-Gothic Vondelkerk Church and a monumental sculpture of a bird by Pablo Picasso called figure cut out (l’Oiseau), as well as the open-air theater which is free and hosts dance and music performances as well as plays throughout the spring and summer months. Be sure to look up near the lake, on specially built platforms you are sure to spot nests of rare white storks.
A stone’s throw from Vondelpark is Amsterdam’s 19th-century Museum Square, home to the Rijksmuseum, Stedelijk Museum and Van Gogh Museum. Foodies should explore nearby De Pijp district, famous for its colorful Albert Cuypmarkt, a street market with over 300 stalls that promise a generous tasting.
De Ware Jacob Boutique Hotel, Jacob Obrechtstraat 69, 1071 KJ Amsterdam, The Netherlands; dewarejacobhotel.com