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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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: https://www.amstelhotel.com/
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