The newly renovated Jan Luyken Amsterdam hotel brings laidback hospitality and intuitive tech to Amsterdam’s most chi-chi postcode. Robbie Hodges reports

In the past decade, services have undergone a radical casualisation. It’s a global trend, albeit one that feels intrinsically Dutch, which explains why it comes so naturally to the Jan Luyken Amsterdam.

Grand Dame traditionalists will squirm at all of the progressive ways the recently renovated Jan Luyken Amsterdam hotel has unpicked Proper Hospitality, capital P and H. Here, concierge desks have been abolished and floating iPads have replaced centralised computer systems. Room keys? How terribly 20th century. Entry is granted with a swipe of one’s phone, of course.

These are not cutting-edge tactics in hospitality, but the Jan Luyken Amsterdam blends this contemporary tech with a comforting human touch – every intervention amplifying, rather than interfering with, its home-from-home approach.

After a 45-minute clatter by train and tram from Schiphol airport, we bundle into the lobby and find ourselves ushered into the warm hug of the library – the heart of the hotel, where illuminated shelves of glowing art tomes, terracotta-hued walls and art deco-style furniture invite you to claim the space as your own. Within minutes we’re slumped unselfconsciously on the sofa, cappuccino cups balancing on our tummies.Jan Luyken AmsterdamThe Dutch have long been known for their openness, often misconstrued as rudeness. Its physical form can be spotted in the expansive ground-floor windows of the Di Pijp and Jordaan neighbourhoods – architectural hangovers from the reformation when anxious Calvinists went to great lengths to prove their honesty to sceptical clergymen.

This Protestant past, coupled with recent successions of progressive governments, has resulted in a communal sensibility that is hard-baked into the social fibre of Dutch society. Naturally, every member of Jan Luyken Amsterdam staff mucks in – baking cakes, plumping pillows or cleaning tables, whether an established manager or complete newbie. This all-for-one-and-one-for-all approach creates a truly laidback, residential feel.Jan Luyken AmsterdamAs this coterie of smiley household staff in pristine white trainers flutter about, it’s easy to imagine yourself one of the shiny happy locals who call this salubrious postcode home. Sandwiched between the Golden Age beauties of the museum quarter and P.C. Hoofstraat (Amsterdam’s answer to Bond Street), the location is perfect for wide-eyed tourists with deep pockets.

Though all of the hotel’s fashionable trappings and chic non-uniforms can be attributed to a recent multi-million euro refurbishment, the Jan Luyken has been a pied-a-terre for well-to-do travellers for decades – with many of its original visitors remaining loyal patrons. Each of the hotel’s 62 keys are staggered across three 19th-century townhouses that have been cobbled together over time to create one impressive property.Jan Luyken Amsterdam Jan Luyken Amsterdam Jan Luyken AmsterdamRather than gut the building of its idiosyncrasies, Nicemakers, the Dutch studio responsible for its fresh swagger, have created a nuanced dance of old and new in which carved wooden panels sidle up against graphic contemporary art.

Many of the canvases staggered throughout are responses to the poetry of Jan Luyken Amsterdam; graffiti-style defacements of Golden Age paintings that echo his work or glaring eyeballs that reference his research into the science of sight. It’s not as creepy as it sounds, promise.

When we finally dredge our wearied bodies from the folds of the library sofa and make it to our room, we find a theatrical stage of a bed dominated by a houndstooth headboard and flanked by red tassel lampshades.

It vies for dramatic effect with the original floor-to-ceiling windows which, despite being draped in swathes of crimson curtain, manage to drench the room in light. The style feels archetypically boutique-y with raunchy undertones. The chef’s kiss? A spicy red phone, positioned provocatively by the bed.Jan Luyken Amsterdam Jan Luyken AmsterdamThere are four room categories, ranging from snug to medium-sized. If you’re lucky, or charming, you’ll clinch one of those with elegant balconies overlooking the gentle stream of cyclists who steadily pootle through Janluykenstraat (hence the hotel’s name).

But this hotel isn’t designed for fly and flop types looking to lounge in bed. The aim is get people jostling in the kitchen and library, making serendipitous connections with their fellow guests as they quaff a local beer or catch their breath in the courtyard after working out in the hotel gym.

As for the gym, there’s potentially a little too much jostling. It’s an intimate space which, for all its handcrafted wooden equipment and stylish cork board finishes, some might find a little poky. Still, to find a period hotel with any kind of gym in central Amsterdam is nigh impossible; you can blame the Dutch merchants of yore for not having the foresight to build open-plan fitness facilities.Jan Luyken AmsterdamAnd besides, who needs to pump iron when the hotel’s fleet of bikes can be borrowed at a moment’s notice? Do like the Dutch and pedal up a sweat instead.

More important than fitness, however, is the food. True to its home-from-home ethos, the Jan Luyken doesn’t have a restaurant but an open-plan kitchen that provides round-the-clock nourishment and nibbles.

Breakfast is a familiar mix of pastries, cakes, smoked salmon, overnight oats and fresh fruit – a disharmonious but delicious combination of old-time favourites and health-conscious bites done well. Those who aren’t kicking about the city’s canals in the afternoon get first dibs on oven-fresh cakes. And, as evening nears, an ever-replenishing supply of cheese and meat antipasti keep tails wagging.Jan Luyken Amsterdam Jan Luyken AmsterdamCrank open the Smeg fridge at whatever hour and an immaculate tetris of sweet fruit and chia seed puddings can be found stacked alongside carafes of fresh juice. It’s truly befitting of a Kardashian McMansion, which might explain why Americans make up the vast majority of the hotel’s guests (approximately 80 per cent, I’m told), with Europeans trailing behind.

As day turns to night, attention shifts from the Smeg to the wine fridge, where organic bottles and beers brewed at the nearby Ij-brouwerij beckon. The decanters of port and liquor that elegantly line the library and pantry shelves transition from ornamental display pieces to trusted companions as conversations about the day’s adventures accompany a melody of tinkling glasses. Every evening feels like an easygoing, glamorous house party.


Inevitably, the party must come to an end. As for checkout? Well, what of it? The hotel’s digital keycard system means there’s no key to return, and where would one return it? As we and our luggage bid farewell to the staff and rattle out from whence we came, we’re left with a real sense of place.

Perhaps it’s the hotel’s location beside the iconic Rijksmuseum, or the countless Vermeer characters who peek out from bookshelves across the hotel. I suspect it’s largely due to the relaxed, no-nonsense nature of the staff, for whom nothing is too much.

Like all the best hotels, the magical formula isn’t to be found in bathroom toiletries (Codage, by the way) or thread counts, but in the atmosphere – and the Jan Luyken is a stellar exercise in easy-going Dutch-style hospitality.