Check-in: Hotel Okura Amsterdam

- Heidi Atwal, London-based by way of California, is a lifestyle, music, and arts and culture writer. Her work and wanderlust have led her to all corners of the world, including a teaching stint in Barcelona, working as a fashion editor in San Francisco and covering film in Los Angeles. Heidi's writing has also appeared in SOMA Magazine, The San Francisco Bay Guardian, and on Condé Nast Digital.

The story of Amsterdam’s de Pijp (The Pipe) neighborhood is all too similar to that of many formerly dilapidated, but now-thriving boroughs around the world: once regarded as a ramshackle locus of seedy goings-on, it’s currently in the throes of major regeneration, attracting throngs of real estate-savvy yuppies and artistic types in kind. Very much up-and-coming, its trendy cafes and retro bars—more of which are popping up by the moment—serve as safe havens for those retreating from touristy suffocation in the city centre.

Well-connected via tram, with many a tucked away neighborhood gem to discover within its borders, de Pijp was one of two quarters in which I stayed during a recent trip to the Dutch city. Hotel Okura Amsterdam, a sprawling, canal-side luxury complex, illustrates the area’s revivification—it’s just one of many locales attracting an upscale, business-minded travel clientele away from ritzier neighborhoods such as Jordaan. And that’s no easy feat.

Spacious, modern, and just 15-minutes away from the local airport by taxi, Hotel Okura is kitted with all the frills one would expect from five-star accommodations. The suite in which my travel-mates and I camped whilst escaping London for a long weekend was decked out with wide king beds, sumptuously soft linens, and, as a sweet greeting upon arrival, a quartet of macaroons awaited on a large mahogany desk. A good start, indeed.

While my friends went off in search of a cocktail post check-in, I opted to take advantage of the jacuzzi in the suite’s sizable bathroom. Surely, I’m not the only cramped flat-sharer in the U.K.’s capital to go gaga over the rare sight of a sunken bath, fluffy robe, verbena toiletries, and tub-side television. Forty minutes of dim-lit bubble soaking later, my friends reappeared and we found ourselves playing around with the suite’s many techie features, from touch-screen light and temperature controls to… the heated toilet seat. Truly a sight for those used to communal living.

We made an early start the following morning, energizing ourselves for a full day of city trekking with a stop by Hotel Okura’s considerable gym facilities. Half and hour of lazy lap swimming in the indoor pool and (another) jacuzzi dip later, and we were set right for more sightseeing, including a stop by the Impressionists exhibition currently running at the Hermitage Museum.

Between its bevy of on-site perks, marked absence of collegiate-aged backpackers, and the appeal of staying in a budding ‘hood favored by discerning locals, Hotel Okura boasts a breadth of merits. On our next return—and we would most certainly return—we can’t wait to see which lounges, galleries, and restaurants are trending in de Pijp next. At least where to stay won’t be a question.

Read more about Amsterdam:
City Travel Guide: The Auditory, Alimentary and Artistic Pleasures of Amsterdam
Read more of Heidi’s travels:
City Travel Guide: Marrakech, From Souks to Saadian Tombs
Destination Dispatches: Dar Ayniwen Delights in Marrakech

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