This is part 13 in a series about my summer 2017 trip, which took me to Norway, the Netherlands, and Malta. You can read an overview of the trip here.
My plans for accommodations in Amsterdam went through several iterations, including Airbnb, one night at the new Hyatt Regency, one night at the new Kimpton hotel, and one night at the Intercontinental Amstel. In the end, I settled on two award nights- one, using 50,000 Club Carlson points to stay at the Park Plaza Victoria Amsterdam, and one using 60,000 Hilton Honors points to stay at the Doubletree Amsterdam Centraal Station. I definitely recommend the Park Plaza, and definitely do not recommend the Doubletree.
Park Plaza Victoria Amsterdam
The Carlson Rezidor group has a lot more brands than most people think of. In addition to Radisson, Radisson Blu, and Radisson Red, there is the new Quorvus Collection, Country Inns, Art’otel, Park Inn, and Park Plaza. I’ve only stayed at Radisson/Radisson Blus and one Art’otel in the past. Park Plaza is a brand without any real identity, and having stayed at one, I still don’t see a meaningful difference from Radisson Blu, given that the property was full service and fairly large, and had similar décor. I’m sure there’s a historical reason why the Park Plaza Victoria is branded that way, though.
The hotel is quite old, as the “Victoria” hotel. The main entrance is currently closed and under construction, so there is an entrance off of an alley off to the side. Inside, there is a chic area of black walls and counters that serve as the check-in desk, along with a glass elevator. There was a small sitting area there, and there was a table that always had water, mini-muffins, and/or fruit on it for all guests.
From there, there is a walkway into a very old-world lobby. This dichotomy is part of the fact that the hotel is actually two separate buildings, divided by the alley. The older building, “the Victoria wing” was at least partially closed off during my stay due to renovation. My room was in the “Urban Wing,” which is the newer building across the alley. To go from the lobby to my room on the 2nd floor of the Urban Wing, I had to take the elevator up one level, cross a glass walkway across the alley, and then take another elevator up another level. (I couldn’t find an entrance/exit out of the Urban Wing.)
When I checked in, I was told my room wasn’t ready, but I could have a different one unless I wanted to wait. I asked if there was a difference between the rooms, and she said no, so I said okay.
The room was quite nice, and larger than I expected in Amsterdam. It was very modern, with bright red carpet, and a white, grey, and black motif. There was a full-size desk, as well as a weird white leather sofa thing next to the window, which looked out onto one of the streets below – thankfully, no street noise. There were black and white photographs on the walls, and it was all in all quite chic. The room was clean and spotless, but the one thing that was weird is how low everything was – the bed, the night tables, etc. The bathroom was gleaming and white and was clearly newly renovated.
When I returned from my day exploring, my Club Carlson Gold welcome amenity had been delivered – a note, a glass bottle of water, and a package of cocoa covered almonds.
There’s a fitness club connected to the Park Plaza, below the Urban Wing, “Victoria Active Club,” which I had a chance to explore. It’s also quite newly renovated, and a good size for a hotel this size – but small for a private fitness club. There is a small pool area, and then one big room with a range of gym equipment. On Saturday morning, it was mostly private clients.
Given how expensive hotels can be in Amsterdam in the summer, the Park Plaza is a great use of points – particularly if convenience to the train station is important to you.
Doubletree Amsterdam Centraal Station
Hilton has several properties in Amsterdam, but the most centrally located (besides the Waldorf-Astoria) is the Doubletree Amsterdam Centraal Station. It is not in a charming area, but it is in an area convenient to the train station. Under Hilton Honors variable points pricing scheme, my night was 60,000 points, which is insane for what I got.
I had been a Hilton Diamond member for over a year, and only recently dropped down to Gold status. The folks at the Hilton Rotterdam still treated me very nicely, even though I was on an OTA-booked reservation. Not so much at the Doubletree. (Incidentally, this booking was part of Adam’s “Operation burn Hilton Honors Points,” since they are not consistent in ensuring elite treatment, and my horrible experience at the Doubletree Queenstown made me never want to stay at a Hilton property again.)
I walked over from the Park Plaza at 11:15am, so wasn’t expecting a room to be ready, but figured I’d try anyway. I was given a cookie and welcomed as a Gold member, but proactively told “We are fully booked, so we are unable to provide upgrades.” Okay…. I was offered a choice of breakfast or points, and went with breakfast, and then sent on my way. No offer to call or anything when the room was ready. Fine. Annoyingly, there was quite a long wait for me to drop off my bag with the bell desk.
When I returned to the hotel after 3pm, the hotel was a chaotic nuthouse. There was no marked line, so people were forming multiple lines and pushing each other to get to an agent. I waited a full fifteen minutes before I was able to get my keys, which really is unacceptable. I was told I was on an Honors floor (yippee), with no discussion of the rest of the hotel, no apology for the wait, and no lounge access. I then waited again for my bag, before finally heading up to my room.
My Hilton profile specifies a room away from an elevator. So of course, when I got to my floor, I turned from the elevator and hit my room right away. Not only was it near the guest elevator, which had screaming people coming in and out of it all day and night, but it was directly across from the service elevator. Lovely.
The hotel is a bit of a weird shape, basically two trapezoids. My room was facing an interior courtyard, but the angles of the courtyard meant my room was at an angle extremely close to the room across- I’d say about 20 feet away. There was one small window in the room, and no overhead lighting, so if you wanted light, you had to have the curtains open, which meant I could see directly into the room across from me as I assume they could see into mine.
As for the room itself, it looked like an undecorated college dorm room. (Apparently, the property was designed as part of Hilton’s “MINT” failure.) There wasn’t even a television, just an Apple computer on the desk which took forever to boot and couldn’t be turned on/off easily from the bed, and could hardly be seen.
The room was poorly laid out, with a task chair at a small round table blocking the tiny wardrobe. The bathroom was fine but for a tiny shower I barely fit in. But don’t worry, they managed to stock the room with a minibar.
I tried to nap in the afternoon, but the noise from the elevator made it hard. Every time I dozed off, I’d be woken by a slamming door or a suitcase in the hallway. In the evening it was worse; my room was below a rooftop bar, with loud music and bass that finally seemed to stop at 1am.
Breakfast at the restaurant was also okay, though I had to work very hard to hail a waitress down to get coffee. It wasn’t a huge spread, with waffles and pastries, and a small hot display, along with a small cold meat display. I did find champagne on the buffet, which was surprising. It did have a nice view. It was quite civilized, but it was 8am on a Sunday in Amsterdam, so I assume many guests were either sleeping or still out.
On the Hilton app, there’s a feature which you can leave feedback about your current stay. I did. So when I checked out, the agent asked if I’d wait for the Duty Manager, who apologized, and said I should have called the front desk to complain. He offered me a taxi, but the hotel has Central Station in its name, so that seemed silly and my train ticket to the airport was paid for.
So yeah, I hated the hotel. My notes from the trip said “Insane how many Hilton Honors points this shithole is.” Indeed, it was going for 339 EUR a night the following weekend. No upgrade is one thing, but elite guests SHOULD NEVER GET THE WORST ROOM. (The room category I booked said “River, Courtyard, or Dock view.” Conceivably this was courtyard, but it really was “building.” But an elite guest should get river or dock.) Especially if I had to wait for it. Yes, I was on an Honors floor- but WHO CARES? There was the running of the bulls in the hallway, and I couldn’t even walk around the room in my underwear. I couldn’t sleep. The end. I’d rank this as on par with a bad Hampton Inn. I’d avoid the Doubletree Amsterdam Centraal at all costs. (And with stays at 24 properties this year so far, I can confidently say a finalist for Worst Hotel of the Year 2017).