If there's one thing you won't struggle to find in Amsterdam, it's a good hotel. While there are tons of lovely places to choose from, many of which are truly spectacular, there's one we find ourselves gravitating toward time & time again: Hotel De L'Europe. From its glorious perch on the Amstel, the grand hotel seems to rule the city. We had the pleasure of speaking to the bright & innovative General Manager, Edward Leenders, to find out a little bit more about the wonderful hotel we love so much.
You might have heard the good news: we're having a baby! Well, a book baby, that is. After years of bringing you the best of the best of travel tips on the web, we decided to take pen (or printing press) to page and bring you an amazing, practical, beautiful guidebook to the city that is nearest & dearest to our heart. Which city is that, you ask? Why, Amsterdam of course! So now it's time for the countdown to begin.
As our publishing date grows ever closer, we want to give you some sneak peeks into what's to come to get you as excited as we are. Our book is nothing without the incredible shops, restaurants, bars & businesses we love, so it's important to us that you get to know them a bit as well. That's why, until the launch of our book, we are going to be bringing you interviews with the inspiring founders of some of our very favourite spots.
gloobles: Hi Edward! Thanks for chatting with us today. We know you became the General Manager of Hotel De L’Europe relatively recently. How are you finding it so far?
Edward: In one word: great! De L’Europe Amsterdam is genuinely unlike any of the other luxury hotels I have managed in my 21 years abroad. It surpassed my expectations. De L’Europe is deeply connected with the city & its residents. With its foundation dating back to the 1400s, the hotel possesses a wealth of history. It has always been home to people who seek and appreciate authentic experiences. Having aged gracefully along with the city, the hotel is still at the centre of social circles. De L’Europe is a true destination on its own for foreign travellers & locals alike.
gloobles: Absolutely. It's one of the few hotels in the city where we frequently see other locals. Amsterdam has a fair few luxury hotels, but we think De L’Europe is a particular standout. What do you think makes it so unique?
Edward: We have a story that is like no other. Our charming monumental property lies hidden in plain sight in the very heart of the city, with the Amstel river at its feet & opposite of the “Munttoren”. De L’Europe is the oldest independent luxury hotel in Amsterdam, dating back to 1896. The hospitable origins of the property date back even further. Not being part of a hotel group allows us to be generous by abiding by our own unique & personal standards and not those imposed by a head office. Here guests aren’t treated according to a book of rules but according to genuine hospitality. We pride ourselves on our timeless luxury, and our longstanding team of professionals & young talent go out of their way to continuously provide guests with an authentic experience. The combination of our location, heritage, deep-routed connection with the city and warm & hospitable attitude is what we call Original Amsterdam Luxury. You won’t find it anywhere else.
gloobles: You're truly one of a kind. The building is stunning. Can you tell us a bit about its history?
Edward: The history of De L’Europe is quite interesting. Our foundations date back to 1480 when the first wall around Amsterdam was built to guard it from outside threats. The wall had gates, various watch towers & a roundel. This roundel, or as we say in Dutch ‘Rondeel’, was located exactly where De L’Europe now stands. One could say that our guardianship roots were laid very early. The tower was sold & demolished in 1633, after which the first inn, ‘Het Rondeel’, was built. Over the years the inn expanded by connecting to adjacent buildings and adding an extra floor & a Renaissance-style façade that overlooked the Amstel. In the early 1880s Het Rondeel closed its doors, only to be opened again in 1896 as Hotel de L’Europe. The original roundel is still, after more than a century, present in the hotel today. It sits beneath the area near the bay window of the Rondeel Lounge. Next year, in 2021, we will celebrate our 125 year anniversary.
gloobles: 125 years! That's incredible. If it weren’t for your job, would you be living in Amsterdam? What intrigues you about the city?
Edward: In all honesty, we came to Amsterdam for De L’Europe. Once here, we fell in love with the town’s culture, craftsmanship, diversity & peacefulness.
gloobles: It sounds like you're here to stay. Do you have a favourite corner in the hotel?
Edward: De L’Europe has many beautiful corners, but my favourite is our spa terrace. A little patio, slightly hidden away under a most charming balcony. Plus it even has its own glorious little garden. When sitting there very much tucked away, you have the most stunning views over the Amstel & the beautiful facades of the old canal houses that are so typical for Amsterdam.
gloobles: What a dreamy little spot. If we were you, we'd want to keep it for ourselves! Walk us through your typical day.
Edward: A typical day is not so easy to describe, as no day is the same. Different guests, different meetings, new outcomes & new inspiration can sometimes lead the day. However, my most typical day starts early in the morning. At 6:00 am I check emails that came in overnight, followed by a run in the park or a cycle session at the gym. At 7:30 am, I do my first walk-around at the hotel to greet the morning team & guests on their way to breakfast. One of my daily standard routines is reading the morning papers at 7:45 am to catch up on all the news: national, local & international. From 8:00am to 9:15 am, I plan some time for myself to think with a clear head about our projects. After 9:15 am, the meetings start for that day. Firstly, our morning meeting with all departments to prepare for the day, followed by hourly sessions with different heads of department to discuss outstanding projects, a general catch-up or share creativity. When the afternoon arrives, I plan my lunch appointments with sales, marketing or networking guests, either in the brasserie or Sur l’Eau or in Trattoria Graziella in the Nieuwe Doelenstraat, at 1:00 pm. The rest of the afternoon is filled with 1-2 hours of project time & group meetings. When the evening arrives at 6:00 pm, I always make sure to be present in the lobby to meet & greet our guests. On the evenings when I am not entertaining, I like to go for a swim for an hour before returning home for a late dinner with my wonderful family.
gloobles: Wow, that sounds insanely busy. Plus two workouts in one day?! We're impressed. Walk us through your perfect day.
Edward: A perfect day for me is when I see my team shine, all of our guests smile, sales are good and we have managed to create value for all involved. That might sound easy, but it takes a lot of effort & dedication. Everyone at De L’Europe goes out of his or her way to positively contribute to the guest experience & the organisation in general. Seeing positive results & smiles is the ultimate feeling of gratification.
gloobles: We couldn't agree more. Which places would you recommend guests visit whilst in Amsterdam?
Edward: Amsterdam is about diversity. The energy is omnipresent in the city and fuels new ideas every single day. From art to fashion & from architecture to craftsmanship to gastronomy, Amsterdam is truly an inspiring destination. We want to unlock these experiences for our guests. Our team can be seen as guardians of local culture & craftsmanship. We pride ourselves on being able to offer our guests authentic experiences. Of course guests can visit the renowned Rijksmuseum, but we like to propose off the beaten track alternatives. For instance, a visit to the Hortus Botanicus (one of the oldest greenhouses in the world) or Museum van Loon (the residence of one of the founders of the Dutch Trading Company V.O.C.), look around ‘Onse Lieve Heer op Solder’ (a uniquely preserved seventeenth-century house from the Dutch Golden Age with an entire church in the attic), taste one of the 70 genevers & liqueurs from the 17th century Wijnand Fockink distillery or pop into the family-run jeweller Lyppens.
gloobles: Those sorts of places are the ones we love as well, the places that will really make people feel as if they've seen something special. Where do you like to go to escape the city?
Edward: I really like being outside to connect with nature. In balance with my wonderfully dynamic days at the Hotel, I appreciate tranquillity, especially when being active. I love a good bike ride through spectacular landscapes, soaking up the views, enjoying the calm & the excitement of the activity at the same time. A slightly less frequent occurrence is going to our little house near Aix-en-Provence with my family, visiting our friends in Italy or spending time together in the mountains.
gloobles: All are such wonderful escapes. Sometimes you just have to get out of the city. What would you order from room service if you were staying at De L’Europe?
Edward: My guilty pleasure would be ordering a great bottle of wine from our award-winning wine cellar (with over 8,000 bottles & 900 labels!), turning up my favourite music whilst soaking in the royal bathtub with Diptyque bath oils, and then feet up, order delicious comfort food to share and watch our favourite movies!
gloobles: Oh man. We'd love to do that right now! What’s on your travel bucket list?
Edward: Every year, I plan a trip with my family to discover new cultures. (So far) I have the following on my travel bucket list: visit the Botswana Okavango delta, Mongolia, Argentina, Patagonia, hike in the Amazon & go skiing in New Zealand.