A bit off of Amsterdam’s beaten path, and away from the hustle and bustle that most visitors assume swallows all of the infamous Dutch city, you’ll find Hotel Jakarta Amsterdam. Set on the city’s waterfront in a hip residential neighborhood, the property is one of the first energy-neutral hotels in the Netherlands.
After nearly an 11-hour flight, I was overjoyed when I arrived at the hotel and found out my room was ready, hours before the normal 3 p.m. check in time. After getting my key I was anxious to get to the room, but I could see a sliver of the indoor garden from the front desk. Curiosity got the best of me; I bypassed the elevator and rolled my carry-on around the corner.
Hotel Jakarta’s indoor garden might be better described as an indoor tropical forest. Boasting dozens of species of subtropical plants and trees that reach a handful of stories into the sky, the garden covers a large portion of the ground and first floors of the hotel.
Created in collaboration with Hortus Botanicus Amsterdam, one of the oldest botanical gardens in the world, placards identify many of the plants. The towering palm trees stand out, but spend time looking and you will spot everything from ginger and turmeric, to banana trees. Solar panels cover the building, but a plentiful amount of daylight still streams through the atrium. Using sunshine cuts down on the need for artificial lighting, and along with collected rainwater, keeps the urban jungle thriving. (The garden uses around 264 gallons of water on a normal day.)
Hotel Jakarta’s name and design are inspired by the history of its unique Java Island location in Amsterdam. During the 1900s, the man-made island was the starting point of steamships headed to the East Indies. The property features 200 rooms; most were pre-fabricated and fit into place during construction.
I stayed in a Waterfront Superior room with a shower, bathtub, and balcony on the 7th floor. Enveloped in bamboo, the room’s neutral color palate and floor to ceiling French doors that opened to a balcony overlooking the water, combined to create a relaxing vibe. Along with a king bed, there was a cushy lounger and glass desk large enough to accommodate charging travel gadgets, or to get some work done.
The open bathroom had a shower with glass walls and freestanding bathtub. Though the layout made it difficult for two people to use the space at once with much privacy, a sliding wood door with striking Indonesian carving, allowed the bathroom to be separated from the room’s main living and sleeping space.
Drawer space is limited, but a tall, freestanding closet system provided adequate space to hang clothes and store a carry-on suitcase. It also housed a laptop safe, small refrigerator, Nespresso machine, and electric tea kettle.
There are two onsite restaurants at Hotel Jakarta Amsterdam: Westers Bakery and Café Jakarta. The bakery offers fresh baked bread, coffee, tea, and sandwiches, along with a selection of pastries and desserts. Though there is an airy, light-filled dining room, this is a great spot to grab something to go.
Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Café Jakarta offers a more formal, sit-down dining experience with offerings the likes of sate ayam (chicken satay with peanut sauce) and gado gado with tofu, tempeh, bean sprouts, and peanut sauce.
A filling breakfast, served buffet-style at Café Jakarta, is included with every stay. A variety of hot dishes including made to order eggs, bacon, and sausage, are available along with yogurt, fruit, cheese, breads, and pastries.
Located on the 8th and 9th floor of the hotel, Malabar stays open late, serving cocktails and small bites with stellar city views.
After a busy day of touring in Amsterdam, the hotel’s Wellcome Wellness area offers a nice spot to recharge. Along with an indoor, waterfront pool, there’s a sauna, fitness center, and two spa treatment rooms.
Hotel Jakarta Amsterdam has won a number of awards for its eco-friendly design and practices. Though offerings like re-fillable toiletry bottles are easy to spot, there’s a long list of environmentally-friendly steps being taken that the average guest will never notice. In addition to hundreds of solar panels and multi-layered windows designed to keep heat and cold outside, the property boasts a high-tech underground heat-exchanger.
Hotel Jakarta Amsterdam is less than a 15-minute bus ride (#43) from Amsterdam Central Station. Tram #26 is even faster, but requires about a 5-minute walk to reach the hotel.
Room rates at Hotel Jakarta Amsterdam start at $205. Wi-Fi and breakfast included. Covered parking is available for an additional fee. Book your stay directly online with the hotel, or through a site like Booking.com or Expedia.
Review and photos by San Francisco Bay Area travel writer and television correspondent Dana Rebmann. Her stay was organized by Hotel Jakarta Amsterdam and the Netherlands Board of Tourism & Conventions, but as always her thoughts and opinions are her own.