A once-sleepy hotel scene has awoken in the Dutch capital thanks to a surge of noteworthy arrivals—The Pulitzer, W, Hoxton—cropping up in the historic canal ring. But the most interesting news these days is coming out of the Amsterdam-Noord neighborhood, a five-minute ferry ride across the IJ River, where a new creative energy is taking hold in a formerly industrial pocket of docklands and erstwhile factories, seemingly a world away from the tourist hordes.
Perched on the water beside the Eye Film Institute, architect Arthur Staal’s Toren Overhoeks building, a postmodern masterpiece that was formerly the headquarters of Shell Oil, has been rechristened as A’Dam Toren. The mixed-use development has tenants that reflect the area’s emergence as a nerve center for the music and movie industries: Sony, Gibson, and Sir Adam, the city’s most daring new hotel.
The sister property to Sir Albert in the city’s De Pijp neighborhood, Sir Adam occupies the bottom eight floors of the building, which could almost be mistaken for an air-traffic control tower. At street level, one of Staal’s original concrete columns pierces the hotel’s glass-walled lobby, a voluminous space filled with eclectic clusters of seating (including a pair of Moroso’s hanging steel cocoon chairs, designed by Patricia Urquiola), a green wall, and game tables. Because the check-in desk is situated somewhat atypically—up on the mezzanine—the lobby remains “incredibly porous and inviting, like the neighborhood living room,” says Jesse MacDougall, director of strategy and brand development for Icrave, the firm behind the design. “People can move through the building easily. Whether you’re a hotel guest or just working nearby, anybody can walk in and enjoy a burger,” he adds, referencing the Butcher Social Club, the all-day burger joint whose vivid lenticular bar sculpture, a collaboration between Icrave and Dutch artist Floor Bijkersma, is lined with colorful graphics. At the Forbidden Garden, craft beers are poured on a landscaped rooftop terrace, and a suite of “Studios” offer an aptly named alternative to stuffy conference rooms.
Upstairs, 108 guest rooms showcase exposed concrete walls with visible pencil etchings from contractors mapping out electrical work in the 1970s. “It’s like the hieroglyphics of construction,” MacDougall says. “We kept the walls as [they were] to celebrate the rawness and history of the building.”
Other elements nod to Sir Adam’s musical neighbors in A’Dam Toren: Gibson guitars on the walls; Icrave-designed, rosewood-veneered beds that mimic guitar wood; and night-light switches that resemble an electric axe’s pickup toggle. Framed portraits and collages by Dutch artists lean casually against the wall, as if a collector-friend with great taste couldn’t figure out where to hang them. And as tempting as it may be to relieve Spotify withdrawal by firing up the Bluetooth on the Crosley Cruiser turntable, Icrave makes it just as easy to embrace a throwback approach, topping each custom-designed console with old-school vinyl from the ’70s and ’80s. “If you think about it,” MacDougall points out, “one side of a record is about how long you stay in a hotel room.”
That’s just the thing about the rhythm of the hotel: Every nook, whether a guest room or a public space, invites you to kick back and turn up the volume. “We wanted to keep it easy—there’s no preciousness to it,” says MacDougall. “There’s a laid-back feel in places like the Netherlands, where hospitality bleeds into design. Above all, it’s about being comfortable.”