Pestana Amsterdam Riverside – Glamour! History! Interior Design!

Can I just come out and say that I love luxury hotels? As far as I’m concerned, they are the pinnacle of glamour. I don’t care about money or being rich, but give me a night at five-star hotel with all the trimmings and I am a happy man. The latest…

Pestana Amsterdam Riverside – Glamour! History! Interior Design!

Can I just come out and say that I love luxury hotels? As far as I’m concerned, they are the pinnacle of glamour. I don’t care about money or being rich, but give me a night at five-star hotel with all the trimmings and I am a happy man. The latest hotel to bowl me over is the Pestana Amsterdam Riverside. Not only does it deliver the goods in the glamour department, it is also housed in an historic building on the Amstel river and features a restaurant run by a chef who is reaching for the sky. Needless to say, I had ample reason to drop by. Care to join me?

Pestana Amsterdam


How’s this for glamour? Along with 90-odd other luxury hotels and resorts around the world, the Pestana Amsterdam Riverside is owned by the Pestana family. It’s always fun to read how rich families build their fortune – and the Pestanas are no exception. I mean, who can resist a rags to riches story that would give both Dallas and Dynasty a run for their money if it was ever turned into a soap opera? They started out poor on Madeira, made a career in South Africa and used the money to build one of the first luxury apartment buildings in Mozambique’s capital of Lourenço Marques – only to see it nationalized when the country became independent in the 1970’s. If you want to find out how that gripping saga ended, be sure to check out the full family history here. Impressive stuff!

This video of Lourenço Marques in the 1970’s should give you an idea what the world of the Pestana family looked like at the time. It was all so cosmopolitan and exotic at the same time, don’t you think?


But wait – there’s more! Because did you know that the Pestana Amsterdam Riverside is housed in a building that was originally designed to be the city hall for Amsterdam’s southern rival back in 1891? The town of Nieuwer-Amstel was annexed by the Dutch capital only three years later, its city hall turned into the Amsterdam municipal archive. I visited it once in the late 1990’s and let me tell you it was everything you imagined.

It was row upon row of dusty card file cabinets and bossy librarians who made sure that everyone observed total silence. And did you know that a family of anti-squatters lived in what is now the main room of the hotel after the municipal archives were moved to a different building? Just imagine living in such a beautiful building for next to nothing! The Fun fact: You can find an exact copy of the the beautiful Neo Renaissance building in the southern Dutch town of Kerkrade. So yes – even in architecture, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

Interior design!

Thankfully, the interior architects responsible for the Pestana Riverside Amsterdam definitely turned out to be more creative and came up with a concept that condenses everything you should ever learn about interior design into one single word: Contrast. Studio Linse took the curls and swirls of the building and decided to contrast them with a decidedly modern look for the furniture you see around the hotel.

Pestana Hotel Amsterdam Bathroom

I love it when modern and classic get mixed up! It makes everything stand out so much more. Of course, designing a hotel in a building that was never intended to serve as one, can definitely be a challenge. Faced with  narrow corridors, slanted ceilings and many nooks and crannies, Paul Linse and his team definitely had their work cut out for them. But as you can see, they succeeded and the result is both open and mysterious at the same time.

When we move on to the interior styling, however, things get really interesting. If you look carefully, I’m sure you’ll see that the Pestana Amsterdam Riverside features many references to its Portuguese heritage. The wavy pattern on the carpet in the hotel lobby, for instance, symbolizes Portugal’s rich naval history. And yes, that giant golden spherical hanging over it is meant to make us all jealous of the insanely sunny weather the country always seems to enjoy.

Pestana Hotel Amsterdam Ceramic Bee

A word of warning to those among us who are afraid of insects, though. Thanks to Bordallo Pinheiro, you can find a giant ceramic wasp hanging from the ceiling in a corridor just off the reception area. It’s sure to get all the hotel guests buzzing with excitement!


Now, where would a five-star establishment be without a top of the bill restaurant? Nowhere! The Pestana Amsterdam Riverside asked famous Dutch chef Peter Lute to take care of the menu. In ARC. by LUTE, guests and locals can meet over anything from a quick coffee to an opulent eight-course dinner that will please even the most discerning epicurean. Prefer to eat al fresco? No problem – the hotel will even throw in some live music from time to time! And if you want to get cool in the pool, head down to the basement for a refreshing dive in the swimming pool. It’s located right next to the Marc Lubach Spa!

Arc by Lute Restaurant Amsterdam
Arc by Lute Restaurant Amsterdam

In conclusion

So…do you have to be filthy rich to stay at a place like the Pestana Amsterdam Riverside? Well, it certainly helps! But let me tell you something. I can safely say that I am not the wealthiest person I know, nor will I ever be. But once or twice a year, I get the urge to splurge and spend a single night in a five-star hotel. I have a fantastic meal at the restaurant, get a great night’s sleep in an incredibly comfortable bed and then explore the city the following day. That’s how I create memories that will last you a lifetime!

Pestana Hotel Amsterdam

Going to Amsterdam? Book your room at the Pestana Amsterdam Riverside right here. And while you’re at it, don’t forget to oooh and aaah over the other hotels in the Pestana Collection. Much like the Pestana Amsterdam Riverside, they are all housed in amazing historic buildings in cities that should be high on your city trip list.