For the tourist who wants a stylish address with a history to match, and on top of that wants to see the most in the least amount of time, the Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky on Amsterdam's Dam Square is at the very centre of this busy city.
The Kras (as it's called by the locals) had its beginnings in 1866 as a coffee house managed by a Polish tailor, Adolf Wilhelm Krasnapolsky. An entrepreneur, Mr. Krasnapolsky snatched the opportunity to expand his dreamed of 'empire' when houses and buildings came up for sale. He would never look back. In 1883 he built the now world famous Winter-Garden especially for the World Exhibition and to this day the Winter-Garden looks much as it did in 1883.
The hotel's luxurious foyer is reminiscent of the days when the wealthy of the world travelled around on Grand Tours. In a far corner a pianist strokes the ivories of a massive grand piano providing soothing background music.
Well equipped with restaurants: the Belle Epoque specializing in Mediterranean food, the Brasserie Reflet where visitors can enjoy fine French cuisine in a room that would have done Marie Antoinette proud and the Bedouin Restaurant Shibli serving Middle Eastern fare, provide guests with a tempting array of culinary experiences. The Winter-Garden' with its stylish decor, although somewhat pricey, is a great place for breakfast.
For those travelling on a budget, a drink at the Golden Palm Bar comes at a discount price - 50% off - during the 'Happy Hour' between 5 and 6pm. It's a noisy vibrant place with a multi-cultural clientele.
There are 468 rooms and 6 Junior Suites in the hotel. A beauty salon, and a fitness centre to pare those extra pounds after days of apple pie and cream and countless glasses of Dutch coffee, are comfortably close. For those arriving by canal boat, the hotel has its own landing dock. Travelling to and from the airport - no problem - there is an airport shuttle service.
Royal Wedding bells
When Prince Willem married Maxima back in 2002, Queen Beatrix rented the entire hotel to house the couple's wedding guests. The Hotel Krasnapolsky was ideally placed for the hundreds of invitees who could walk across Dam Square from the hotel to the Nieuwe Kerk, the historic church beside the Royal Palace where traditionally Dutch royalty marry.
On my visit I experienced a vastly different Dam Square. Strolling out after dinner, I was confronted by all the razzmatazz of a funfair in full swing. The night sky was filled with flashing neon and the blaring thump of carnival music. Youths shrieked with fright as they were catapulted into the sky aboard the'Bullet'. The roar of a giant monster gorilla with outstretched claws, children mouthing candy floss while balloons bobbed jauntily at the end of thread attached to their clothing, couples salsa dancing on the sidewalk, all were an incongruous but joyous sight against a backdrop featuring the Royal Palace.
Posted by Anne Gordon on Tuesday, 12th October, 2010