When you think of Amsterdam, the chances are that you’ll conjure up an image of its beautiful canals. The three main canals, Herengracht, Prinsengracht and Keizersgracht, form a belt around the old city and act as its beating heart. Offering a diverse array of cultural highlights, from museums to shops, restaurants to cinemas, Amsterdam’s Canal Ring is a wonderful place to soak up the best of everything the Dutch capital has to offer. It also offers some of the most elegant and chic hotels in the city, as we explore here.
The Herengracht canal is arguably the most famous of the canals in Amsterdam. In the 17th century, the city’s most influential residents and richest merchants lived here, and it remains a prestigious area. Many of its grand buildings have been turned into leading hotels, including The Hoxton. Occupying a prime position next to the picturesque canal, The Hoxton is an ideal spot for those wanting to be within walking distance of the city’s main attractions. Gloriously romantic, The Hoxton comprises five historical terraced houses which have been turned into one of Amsterdam’s top hotels, showcasing modernist décor and relaxed neighbourhood vibes. Also located in the Herengracht area is the Tassenmuseum Hendrikje – Museum of Bags and Purses. Located in a magnificent 17th-century canal house, the museum is the ultimate place for discerning bag lovers. With a unique collection of more than 5,000 bags, including timeless classics, celebrity pieces and top styles from up-and-coming designers, this is a must-see. Other popular sights in the Herengracht area include the official residence of the mayor of Amsterdam and the oldest residential house in the city, built in 1590, at Herengracht 81.
Prinsengracht, or Prince’s Canal, is the longest of the main canals in Amsterdam. Located in the cool Jordaan neighbourhood, it is surrounded with chic art galleries and fashion houses. The most famous point of interest along the canal is the Anne Frank House at Prinsengracht 263, where Anne Frank lived up until 1944. The house has since been turned into a museum and is a sobering and important attraction in Amsterdam. While home to one of the most sombre points in Amsterdam’s history, Prinsengracht also offers some of the most uplifting, including the annual open-air Prinsengracht Concert, held in August. The free concert is a wonderful celebration of classical music and takes place on a pontoon on the canal, outside the Pulitzer hotel – one of the best boutique hotels in Amsterdam. The hotel encompasses 25 interconnecting Golden Age canal houses and is ideal for those wanting a neighbourhood feel and old-time charm. Offering 225 bedrooms, many with canal views, it is one of the most elegant places to stay in the Dutch capital.
Keizersgracht, or Emperor’s Canal, is the widest canal in the city and home to many of the its most luxurious destinations. The picturesque area is the perfect spot for a romantic retreat and The Dylan is hard to beat for those wanting a secluded stay. Pass through the 17th-century archway and cross an atmospheric courtyard to enter one of the city’s leading design hotels. Using the building’s original 17th-century fixtures alongside modern amenities, it has become an attraction in its own right. The Canal House hotel is another stylish location in the area and the gorgeous venue is set across three 17th-century merchants’ houses, offering 23 guest rooms. With details such as original fireplaces and elegant colour schemes, you might it hard to leave your room at all, if it weren’t for the stunning private gardens and the irresistible Nine Streets shopping district, located just a short walk away.