American Hotel, Leidseplein, Amsterdam

American Hotel

In the 19th century the Netherlands was one of the largest investors in the United States, second only to England. The first American Hotel (1882-1900) on the Leidse­plein was designed by architect Cornelis Steinigeweg, who had traveled in and lived in America from 1850 until 1876. He had planned to build on the entire strip of land now occupied by the current American Hotel, but the city insisted on having a police station and a fire department building there as well.

Leidseplein, Amsterdam, between 1882 and 1888, with first American Hotel

Leidseplein between 1882 and 1888, on the right the first American Hotel and on the left the building of the fire department.

The café was already named Americain on the drawings. The society Architectura et Amicitia had their meetings as well as their admini­stration in this first American Hotel. A relief above the hotel entrance on the Leidse­kade is all that remains of the old hotel’s appearance. Amsterdammers, by the way, insist on calling the entire building, the hotel and the café, “the Americain”, finding it too hard to remember two names for one location with two entrances…

Reliefs above the entrance of the American Hotel on the Leidsekade, Amsterdam

Reliefs above the entrance of the American Hotel on the Leidse­kade (now Hard Rock Hotel). On the left the year the first hotel was built, in the middle the first hotel, on the right the year the second hotel was built (photo 2020).

The current American Hotel was built in place of the old one from 1900 to 1902, designed by the architects W.G. Kromhout and H.G. Jansen in a style that resembled Berlage’s work. In 1927-1928 an expansion was added. The life-size statues on the façade at the Leidse­kade by Theo Vos symbolize ten different cultures. That part of the hotel was build in 1928 by G.J. Rutgers.

Interior of the Café Americain, Amsterdam (2020)

Interior of the Café Americain (2020).

The Café Americain has a beautiful Jugendstil (German counterpart of Art Nouveau) reading room, which attracted musicians, artists and intellectuals from the start. It has large arches, original Tiffany lamps and high stained glass windows. The wall­painting shows a scene from Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream.

American Hotel, Amsterdam, side on the Leidsekade seen from the Leidsebosje (2020)

American Hotel (now Hard Rock Hotel), side on the Leidse­kade seen from the Leidse­bosje (2020).

The hotel was extended again in 1954 and renovated in 1985, 2000 and 2007. The hotel, expansion and café are National Monuments.

In April 2020 it became the first Hard Rock Hotel in the Netherlands, but despite initial fears from locals, its interior will be carefully preserved. The hotel façade will not be changed and the Café Americain, which was refurbished in 2018, will also remain untouched and will even see a return of its famous reading table (the oldest in Amsterdam).

Hans Snoek Fountain

The fountain from 1962 in front of the American Hotel, mostly made of yellow Chinese granite also used on the hotel, was named after ballerina Hans Snoek (founder of the Scapino Ballet) — contributions by her, the American Hotel and the Holland Casino paid for its renovation, finished in 2006. The fountain survived a remodelling of the square in 2016-2019.

Hans Snoek fountain in front of the American Hotel, Amsterdam (June 2020)

Hans Snoek fountain in front of the American Hotel (June 2020).

Café Americain

Website of the Café Americain:

Hard Rock Hotel Amsterdam American

Website of the Hard Rock Hotel:

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