Destinations

Is this Amsterdam's best hotel art collection?

Pulitzer, Amsterdam
Pulitzer Amsterdam boasts an enviable art collection that showcases the unlikely, the aesthetically titillating and the absurd. Credit: (c)sanderbaks.com/Sander Baks

A chair fashioned from giant golden hands – palms facing the ceiling as if in supplication. A porcelain sculpture of a pug dog painted highlighter-yellow. Garish artwork in 3D frames that seem to lunge at you like attention-seeking celebrities. Welcome to Amsterdam’s most arty hotel.

Pulitzer Amsterdam – a funky five-star hotel spread across 25 houses on the Prince’s Canal – doesn’t just offer gourmet dining, luxurious beds and glorious canal views. It also boasts an enviable art collection that showcases the unlikely, the aesthetically titillating and the absurd.

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The first piece that most guests see when they walk in the door – by Richard Kuiper on the wall in the lobby – always causes a stir.

The first piece that most guests see when they walk in the door – on the wall in the lobby – always causes a stir. At first glance, it is a 17th-century Dutch still life oil painting of a flower bouquet, perhaps by Pieter Claesz or Adriaen Coorte.

But squint and you realise it’s actually a photograph; the flower petals are not strokes of oil paint but bits of recycled plastic cutlery. Richard Kuiper is the man behind it, an artist who parodies the old Dutch Master paintings that depict aspirational objects like flowers, glassware and porcelain; wealthy merchants of the Dutch Golden Age would commission them to show off their wealth.

There’s a deranged loveliness to the unwieldy collection of strange objects at every turn, from three-dimensional diamond panels, vintage typewriters and tenebrous Renaissance portraits to patchwork Persian rugs and one particularly strange display of old trumpets tacked to the walls. The hotel’s walls and floors, doused in eggplant-purple, citrus-green and slate-blue, are a colourful canvas base.

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There’s a deranged loveliness about the unwieldy collection of strange objects at every turn. Credit: (c)sanderbaks.com/Sander Baks

Bibliophiles with an eye for design will appreciate the installation of every Pulitzer-prizewinning book in the hotel library (it’s okay to touch – or, God forbid, take one off the wall to read). The gardens have also been given the art treatment, decorated with bronze statues by Nic Jonk; their deliciously grotesque shapes (apparently inspired by the female form!) cast interesting shadows on the ground through the day.

All the rooms have pieces of modern art from the hotel’s collection. They also have zany touches of yellow, green and indigo, come with potted histories of the particular canal house they occupy, and enjoy wonderful Canal views.

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Bibliophiles with an eye for design will appreciate the installation of every Pulitzer-prizewinning book.

But serious art fans should check into the hotel’s Art Collector's suite, which showcases Pulitzer’s most prized piece: a raucous reinterpretation of Leonardo Da Vinci’s The Last Supper by Thierry Bruet – except the disciples are drinking 7 Up, chomping on hamburgers and M&Ms; one of them is even hunched over their laptop, another has a skateboard propped against his knees.

The two-room apartment, which has its own private entrance, is so dense with modern art, the walls are hardly visible. Details like a quirky drinks trolley, and retro yellow telephone help keep the feel frivolously grounded though – this is a hotel that takes art seriously, but still has a wicked, playful sense of fun.

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Prinsengracht 323, 1016 GZ Amsterdam, Netherlands (00 31 20 523 5235; pulitzeramsterdam.com). Doubles from €259 (£222) per night. Breakfast €29 (£24) per person. One adapted room for guests using wheelchairs. For more information on Pulitzer Amsterdam, read the full review, and for more Amsterdam recommendations, read our guide to the best hotels.

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