One of my favorite things about Amsterdam—along with the history, the canals, and the prevalence of bikers speeding around town—is the distinct architecture of the houses. I adore the way they lean, ever just slightly towards the canals, as though they find the waterways that crisscross the city as charming as I do and must get a closer look.
Houses in Amsterdam are also typically tall and narrow, and attached to the attic, you’ll see a beam with a hook or pulley. Given how narrow many of the houses are, and how steep the staircases are as a result, it’s no surprise the Dutch had to devise a way to hoist furniture and other large items into the upper floors. I’ve always wondered what these upper floors look like inside, so when I had the opportunity to stay in an attic room at the top of The Dylan hotel, I jumped at the chance.
The Dylan sits on a historic piece of land in the Grachtengordel, the city’s central canal belt. It’s a short stroll to “The Nine Streets” (De Negen straatjes), a popular shopping area, and centrally located to just about everything you’d want to see in the city. In the 17th century, a stone theatre was built on the site, but it burned down and the land became the site of a charity home for the poor and elderly. In 1999, it reopened as a luxury hotel.
The hotel definitely gives off a luxury feel from the moment guests arrive in the white marble entranceway. My husband and I were greeted by staff who immediately took our bags and invited us to sit on comfortable lounge chairs while they checked us in. While we were given a short tour of the property, a porter whisked our bags to our room.
The Dylan offers several types of rooms including double rooms, suites, and duplex suites. We were in the latter, a 480-square foot luxury room at the very top of the building. And this is where I discovered the first challenge of an attic duplex. From the hallway, we opened our door to a very steep, downright vertiginous stairway which led to the main floor of our room. Once we ascended that, there was a second staircase that led to the bathroom. I quickly made a mental note not to drink too much water before bed.
Despite the climb to reach it, our room was lovely. On one side, under the steeply pitched roof, there was a plush Queen bed and a cozy sitting area with a curved sofa. On the opposite side, underneath a small window that opened to a view of a canal, there was a small dining table with two chairs, and a TV facing the bed. Exposed blond wood beams—including the pulley beam, which ran the length of the room in the apex of the ceiling—gave the room an air of old-world charm.
However, the steep pitch of the roof presented the second challenge of an attic room: reaching the outlets, which were located in the corners of the room, meant crouching down or crawling along the floor to reach them without risking hitting our heads on the lower slopes of the roof. Other outlets close to the bed were used to plug in the bedside lamps, but an extension cord would be an easy fix.
Other than a lack of reachable outlets, the room had everything we could need: plenty of closet space, room for lounging, a safe, coffee and tea maker, air conditioning, free wifi, and cozy Frette bathrobes, bedsheets, and slippers. Upstairs, we had a spacious bathroom with a tiled shower and a deep soaking tub with a view of nearby rooftops.
Onsite, the hotel offers two restaurants. The Michelin-starred Restaurant Vinkles is housed in an 18th-century bakery complete with its original ovens, and the Bar Brasserie OCCO is a more casual bar and brasserie open all day.
I stopped into the latter and found the staff more than accommodating; it was actually about five minutes after closing when I arrived and staff happily made me a nightcap to take up to my room. The experience was similar to my other interactions with the staff. From the concierge to the room service waiter, every staff member I encountered made it clear that no ask was too big or small and they were happy to help make sure my stay was enjoyable.
While I learned that staying in a typical Dutch attic room may come with a few minor inconveniences, I appreciated the atmosphere and historic charm. I wouldn’t recommend this type of room to anyone with mobility issues, of course, but those who don’t mind a few extra steps will be rewarded with a cozy room with a canal view—and a little glimpse into life in an Amsterdam home. Given the stellar service, great location, and luxurious amenities of The Dylan, I’d certainly return. I’d just opt for a single-floor suite instead.
I received a media discount at The Dylan, but all opinions are my own.