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Renaissance Amsterdam Hotel

Koepelkerk photo

ABOVE: The Koepelkerk, a domed 17th Century Lutheran church with a working organ and carved wooden pulpit, serves as the Renaissance Amsterdam Hotel's conference center.

"Quirky" isn't a word that you'd normally associate with a five-star hotel, but the Renaissance Amsterdam Hotel deserves the adjective. After all, how many luxury hotels have a 17th Century domed church and a genuine Dutch "brown café" on the premises?

To be sure, the Renaissance Amsterdam Hotel is mainstream in other respects. The hotel (which is owned by Marriott International) has 402 well-equipped guest rooms and suites, plus a friendly staff and an amenity that makes sense in Europe's bicycling capital: two-wheelers for guests.

The Renaissance Amsterdam Hotel recently underwent a €20 million renovation that included a new lobby, a Mediterranean restaurant, a fitness center, redecorated guest rooms, and other improvements. It was a comfortable and well-equipped hotel even before the renovation was complete, so if you visit, you'll probably enjoy the hotel even more than I did when I stayed there in October, 2008.

Dome sweet dome and a brown pub

Back to those quirky extras that make the Renaissance Amsterdam Hotel so intriguing:

  • photoThe Koepelkerk, or "Dome Church," was built in 1671 and is leased from the Lutheran denomination, which last held services there about 100 years ago. In the 1970s, the Renaissance Amsterdam Hotel leased the church, which was being used as a carpet warehouse, and restored the interior to serve as a conference center. The carved wooden pulpit alone is reason enough to schedule a convention, meeting, or banquet here: Imagine the video presentation ending, the screen going up, and your marketing director giving a sales sermon or leading the corporate hymn with music from the Koepelkerk's pipe organ.

  • The Koepelcafé came with the property when Marriott International acquired real estate for the Renaissance Amsterdam Hotel several decades ago. It still operates as a freestanding "brown café" next to the hotel. You can stop in at the end of the work day for a beer or a jenever, as the locals do, or you can enjoy lunch and dinner amid the pub's traditional brown wooden fittings. (The Koepelcafé's bar food is excellent; my traveling companions and I enjoyed platters of bruschetta, spring rolls, and bitterballen, a traditional deep-fried Dutch snack.)

A cozy location near the station

The Renaissance Amsterdam Hotel is easy to find and reach, although it's more low-key than you might expect: Much of the building is hidden behind the façades of traditional houses and storefronts on a quiet little street named Kattengat, just around the corner from the Singel Canal and a three-minute walk from Centraal Station. (Unless you've got piles of luggage, don't bother with a cab.)

For more information, including rates, visit the Renaissance Amsterdam Hotel Web site. To see more pictures of the hotel and its surroundings, go to page 2 of this article.

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Top photo copyright © Renaissance Amsterdam Hotel.