Amstel Hotel, Amsterdam

Amstel Hotel

The luxurious Amstel Hotel at Professor Tulp­plein 1, over­looking the Amstel river near the Sarphati­straat, was designed by architect Cornelis Outshoorn (who also designed the Fodor building, now Photo­graphy Museum Foam). Commissioned by Samuel Sarphati, the Amstel Hotel opened in 1867 — Sarphati died in 1866 before the hotel opened.

In the original plans it was meant to have four wings, but only one has been realized due to initial financing issues. The entrance, origi­nally planned to be at the Sarphati­straat, is now on Professor Tulp­plein. The hotel changed owners quite a few times, but is still run by the Inter­Continental Hotels Group.

Amstel Hotel, Amsterdam, seen from the water of the Amstel

Amstel Hotel seen from the water of the Amstel, looking towards Sarphati­straat (June 2020).

Samuel Sarphati

Samuel Sarphati (1813-1866) was a physician, chemist and bene­factor of Portuguese-Jewish descent. Sarphati was a brilliant and driven man, full of ideas and initiatives — he shook the lethargic city up quite a bit, clashing many times with the bureau­cratic Amsterdam council. In the 19th century, Amsterdam was a city well past its heyday, still beautiful but with many neigbor­hoods filthy, derelict and dirty.

Portrait of Dr. Samuel Sarphati, by Sybrand Altmann

Dr. Samuel Sarphati, portrait by Sybrand Altmann (1822-1890) (Stads­archief Amsterdam).

Sarphati devoted a lot of energy to his efforts to improve the city and the living conditions of its inhabitants. He played an important role in the develop­ment and growth of education, public health, city planning and industry, spear­heading projects of city expansion. He wanted to make the city more beautiful and give it more international prestige with projects like the Paleis voor Volks­vlijt (Palace of Popular Dili­gence, burned down in 1929) and the Amstel Hotel.

His initiatives helped to improve quality of life in the city — he had a bread factory built to provide cheaper bread and created a trash collection service. Amsterdam’s Sarphati­straat and Sarphati­park are named after him. He was buried at the Portuguese-Israëlite cemetery Beth Haim in Ouder­kerk aan de Amstel.

View from the Amstel Hotel towards Hoge Sluis and Paleis voor Volksvlijt in Amsterdam in 1890

View from the Amstel Hotel towards the Hoge Sluis bridge and the Paleis voor Volks­vlijt in 1890.

A Slow Start & Important Guests

In the first years of the Amstel Hotel tourism was only just starting and it seemed like the investment was not going to be profitable. But in 1870, when pioneer of physio­therapy Johann Georg Mezger started his business in the hotel, his fame soon attracted many patients and the hotel became a spa destination for royal and aristo­cratic guests from all over the world.

In modern days the hotel has been receiving a multitude of famous guests, as well as pop and rock stars. Many royals stayed at this hotel during the wedding of Prince Willem-Alexander and Máxima Zorreguieta in 2002, as well as during the Dutch succession in 2013, when King Willem-Alexander took over from Queen Beatrix.

Amstel Hotel façade from the Amstel river, Amsterdam

Amstel Hotel façade from the Amstel river (June 2020).

Physical Therapy in the Amstel Hotel

Johann Georg Mezger (1838-1909) was a GP and massage therapist who worked from the Amstel Hotel for many famous clients. His parents had migrated from Württemberg (Germany) to Amsterdam. After training as a gym teacher and learning about thera­peutic exercise, he studied to be a GP in Leiden. His therapies proved quite succesful — after treating a son of Dutch King Willem III succes­fully, his fame rose and he got his first royal decoration.

Portrait of physician Johann Georg Mezger by Petrus Johannes Arendzen, 1886

Portrait of physician Johann Georg Mezger by Petrus Johannes Arendzen, 1886 (Rijks­museum).

From 1870 until 1888 Mezger treated many royal and noble clients in the Amstel Hotel, where he also lived during the first years. He succes­fully treated 13-year old Prince Gustav (later King of Sweden) in 1871, adding to his fame. This supplied him with many important clients, like Empress Elisabeth of Austria (Sisi), baron Lionel Walter Rothschild, Empress Eugénie of France (wife of Napoleon III), Queen Elisabeth zu Wied of Romania and Dutch literary professor J.A. Alber­dingk Thijm.

Amstel Hotel, Amsterdam, seen from the Amstel river

Amstel Hotel seen from the Amstel river (June 2020).

An extensive restoration of the Amstel Hotel in 1992 took care of the façade, the roof, the ornaments, sculptures and windows, restoring the original colors from when the hotel was built. All was done in the original materials. Faithful repro­ductions of the eight lions on every corner of the roof, once disappeared, were put back then as well.

Amstel Hotel website:

Travelers' Map is loading...
If you see this after your page is loaded completely, leafletJS files are missing.