Location? Don’t talk to me about location. At Amsterdam’s grand Centraal Station, where we arrive, having travelled by train from Antwerp, a taxi driver summarily empties our luggage from the boot of his vehicle when he discovers the name of our hotel, telling us to walk there. “It’s just one minute away,” he huffs.
Half an hour or more later, cold and wet, and struggling with heavy luggage on wheel-unfriendly cobblestones, we finally locate our lodgings. Rather than walking, we really should have used Amsterdam’s tram network (Routes 1, 2 and 5, for the record, will get you there).
Oh, well, no matter how experienced a traveller you think you are, there is always scope to live and learn, but, as it turns out, the hotel, which opened just last year, is quite conveniently situated.
After a full-blooded whinge to the poor old front-desk staff (sorry, chaps) about Amsterdam’s damned taxi drivers, it doesn’t take long for INK to make an indelible impression. A member of Accor’s MGallery collection of small, characterful hotels, the early-20th century building in which INK is housed is the former home of Tijd, a Dutch newspaper.
Themed hotels either work or not, but INK’s designers – exploiting three themes, of “stories, ink and time” – have deftly and stylishly celebrated the rich history of this trio of canal-side mansions.
The main part of the small, though not poky, atrium style-cum-wintergarden lobby is blessed with natural light, even on a rainy day, thanks to an overarching glass roof. INK’s appealing and engaging public spaces, including a restaurant and a generously sized bar, radiate from the lobby and the narrow reception and entrance area.
Rolls of decorative white paper, ink pots and old typewriters adorn shelves, echoing the building’s use as a printing house and newspaper office, while the walls of the entrance and receptions are graphically decorated in oversized letters from old-style printing presses.
There are six types of irregularly shaped contemporary rooms, each featuring a blackboard-style feature wall with map-like sketches of Amsterdam. Our deluxe room, full of brass, leather and timber notes, offset with touches of the hotel’s signature navy (ink?) blue, is one of almost 150 at INK.
It features all of the these days mandatory mod-cons, including an always welcome in-room espresso machine, as well as a sofa, writing desk, stand-alone tub and a television that swivels 360 degrees, so you can watch it from either the bed or the bath. The big rolls of blank printing paper from the restaurant and bar find their way into the rooms.
INK is a perfect “hanging-out” hotel. The PRESSROOM, its appealing “drink and eat” concept consists of a well priced restaurant, plus bar and lounge.
It also features a library lounge complete with an open fireplace, leather sofa and books. It’s no wonder that the restaurant and bar attracts discerning local Amsterdammers, which adds to the lively atmosphere that pervades the hotel.
One of many smart touches is an old timber ice-box attached to a bicycle, in which a selection of juices and snacks, including sandwiches, are stored and on offer to guests in a rush who may not have time for breakfast.
Despite the regrettable encounter with the taxi driver (Uber, bring it on) INK is actually rather well located, especially with canal tour boats (touristy, but essential) leaving from near the railway station just up the street. Amsterdam is a walking city, with most attractions within reach by foot, tram or, of course, bicycle.
A genuine Dutch treat. Connoisseurs of unconventional, thoughtfully conceived boutique design hotels will appreciate INK. Every aspect of the hotel, from the cool and convivial public spaces to the cleverly designed rooms, as well as the service, impresses. INK is also a relatively affordably priced accommodation option for Amsterdam, which is a typically pricey major European city.
INK Hotel Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal 67, Amsterdam, Netherlands. Phone +31 20 6275900. Doubles start from $290