Originally a bank in the 19th century before becoming a 20th-century music school and now a five-star Leading Hotel of the World, history and architecture abound at the plush Conservatorium, which sits smack bang in the middle of town in the Museum Quarter, the best address in Amsterdam - making it the perfect luxury hotel for a weekend of exploring the Dutch capital in style.
A hotel for lovers of design, history and the finer things in life, the Conservatorium oozes an exclusive ambience that makes every guest feel like a VIP. The service here is second to none, the style is classy, chic and contemporary, and the landmark neo-classical building is everything you expect from a hotel icon. Easily mistaken for a museum, the grand hotel lies among Amsterdam's greats, the Van Gogh Museum and Rijksmuseum.
What's to love?
The Hosts are exceptional and the first 'friends' you'll want to make in Amsterdam. They'll tell you the best places to go, how to see the city like a local and book tickets to any exhibitions, attractions or experiences you're interested in so you barely have to lift a finger. Your personal Host will give you a tour of your room to show you every nook and gadget you need to know about, book any exercise classes you fancy and arrange any special occasions you're celebrating. The hotel itself is an architectural gem. Italian designer Piero Lissoni ensured that the original building's features - from the wrought iron staircases to the Art Nouveau tiles - blended seamlessly with the contemporary furnishings, while adding accent pieces such as vintage Asian rugs and creating a 'living room' round every corner to achieve a sense of comfort.
Best room in the house
Check in to a Deluxe Duplex Guest Room for an elegant home from home in Amsterdam. The beautiful split-level rooms provide all the space you need while travelling solo or á deux, along with wonderful views of shopping street Van Baerlestraat or the splendid hotel lobby and lounge - all ideal spots for people-watching from the large windows. The design of the room is simultaneously classic and modern, with high-quality natural materials used throughout: think travertine stone bathrooms and real oak floors (something most hotels shy away from). The warm, neutral tones combined with a less-is-more approach reflect the effortless Dutch stance on style. The main bathroom is as spacious as they come, with its separate toilet, soaking tub, rainfall shower and hi-tech mirror TV, while the second bathroom on the mezzanine level provides another rainfall shower and toilet in a hidden en-suite. It's the details that you'll love, from the luxury Floris amenities to vitamins by your pillow instead of chocolates and the rarity of a second shower.
This place is perfect if you...
... want to experience authentic Amsterdam while in the lap of luxury. It's the swankiest hotel in town and the Conservatorium's location allows you to dip into the likes of the Van Gogh Museum and Rijksmuseum just steps away, whenever you wish. Or explore the upscale neighbourhood of Oud-Zuid and watch the fashionable locals as you sit at an alfresco café. A walk along the P.C. Hooftstraat (Amsterdam's answer to Sloane Street) is another highlight and cycling through Vondelpark is delightful in the warmer months. Whatever the season, you won't want to miss a stroll in the Jordaan neighbourhood, stopping for the best Dutch apple pie in Winkel 43, admiring the photography at the Kahmann Gallery and immersing yourself in local life at the historic Lindengracht market.
Loved by guests and local foodies alike, the Conservatorium's Brasserie & Lounge is one of the hottest tables in town. Located in a marvellous atrium, the restaurant has a refined yet laid-back vibe, serving up the best dishes from various corners of the world - whether it's Royale Cabanon oysters from Western France or New Zealand beef. With an emphasis on seasonal and local ingredients too, plus an extensive wine menu, it's a superb spot for a lazy lunch or intimate dinner. One of the top restaurants in Amsterdam, Taiko, is also located at the Conservatorium and offers contemporary Asian fare, while Tunes Bar is the place to enjoy cocktails as you admire Piero Lissoni's fabulous transparent bar.
Don't leave here without...
...experiencing the gym and wellness centre. The Akasha Holistic Wellbeing Centre is the largest spa in Amsterdam and a real urban oasis. From a dip in the sprawling LED-lit pool with its own vertical garden, to the array of yoga classes on offer, there's something for every spa seeker. With a private hammam, sauna and watsu pool, there are many corners to soak up the serenity, and the indulgent spa treatments and spacious gym allow you to really delve into the world of wellness during your visit to one of the best spas in the Netherlands.
Rooms start from 385 euros (£343) per night. Book directly on the hotel website for the best rates and latest offers, including the stay four nights for the price of three deal.
18 brilliant city breaks for 2018
18 brilliant city breaks for 2018
The city break is the UK’s favourite type of holiday, with more than half of British holidaymakers (51%) planning one in 2018, according to ABTA. And rightly so! World-famous museums, top-notch eateries and culture galore - when it comes to city breaks, there's so much to see and do.
Whether you want a short break with a beach, a capital you can reach by train, or a city hosting a major sporting event, we've picked the 18 destinations you need to visit in 2018. Browse the best cities for a holiday in the UK, Europe and beyond.
Norwegian will commence a new route from Gatwick to Buenos Aires in February 2018, marking the low-cost airline's first ever South American route as its UK expansion plans gather pace. Often called the 'Paris of South America', Buenos Aires offers UK travellers a unique mix of European and Latin American culture. By day, Argentina's cosmopolitan capital offers classical architecture, over 250 parks and green spaces, sidewalk cafes and world-class shopping. By night, the city boasts a thriving cultural scene including top-class bars, restaurants and theatres, as well as a vibrant music scene giving travellers the chance to dance in the home of tango. Book it: Norwegian's fares will cost as little as £299 one-way.
Jordan's capital city is experiencing exciting developments, with three hotels due to open in 2018, making it an excellent long-weekend destination as it is just 5.5 hours away by plane. Amman has plenty to offer, from great food stalls and restaurants on Rainbow Street to the hip and upcoming Weibdeh area. The W Amman Hotel opens in early 2018 and will be a vibrant sanctuary styled in contemporary luxury and nestled in Amman’s Financial District, which is among traditional markets and ancient ruins. The five-star Ritz Carlton and St. Regis will also open later in the year, bringing even more luxury to the vibrant city. Book it: BA Holidays offers four-night breaks to Amman including return flights and a stay at Grand Hyatt Amman from £733 per person.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Malta’s capital city of Valletta is awash with history, culture and spectacular architecture. It is the European Capital of Culture 2018 and will officially launch on 20 January 2018, with the city's four main squares providing backdrops to acrobats, dancers and digital artistic projections, along with a series of cultural festivals and events throughout the year. Visitors to Valletta should check out the top sites, such as St John’s Co-Cathedral and Renzo Piano’s City Gate. Book it: Mercury Holidays offers three-night breaks to Valletta from £295 per person, including flights and a stay at the five-star Grand Hotel Excelsior.
Travellers who enjoy the beauty of Spain can explore one of its most unspoilt cities in 2018 when British Airways launches flights to Almeria in March. Situated in the southeast of the country and perfectly positioned on the Mediterranean Sea, Almeria is famous for its Spaghetti Western film sets, untouched beaches, white-washed villages and medieval history. The Alcazaba of Almeria, Cabo de Gata-Nijar nature reserve and the Cathedral of Almeria are some of the must-visits. Book it: British Airways' return fares from Heathrow cost from £66.
City break lovers looking for a once-in-a-lifetime trip can fly non-stop from Heathrow to Perth from March on the first-ever direct flight from the UK to Australia. The 14,498-kilometre Qantas service will take 17 hours as the first regular passenger service to directly link Australia with Europe. The capital of Western Australia is undergoing a significant period of change, with the attention turning from its glorious natural environment to its urban offering. Be sure to check out new waterfront development Elizabeth Quay for its wining and dining options, a pedestrian and cyclists' bridge, and promenades. Book it: Qantas' fares start from £1,095 return and are expected to drop below £900 return during deal periods.
Vibrant and forward-thinking, Copenhagen makes a fascinating city break destination thanks to its winning combination of eye-catching architecture, interesting museums and galleries and thriving gastronomy scene. In the beginning of 2018, world-renowned restaurant Noma will re-open in a new and unusual location with a brand new concept. The Danish capital will also get an artificial ski slope in 2018 named Copenhill, which is built on top of a green power plant. Opening in the heart of the city in 2018 is boutique, upscale hotel Herman K, which will wow guests with its private rooftop terrace and 31 unique luxury rooms. Book it: Ryanair's new flights to Copenhagen from Liverpool and Edinburgh, which launched in late 2017, start from £9.99 one way.
San Francisco’s edgy, cool little brother offers impressive gastronomy, a rapidly expanding hip city-centre, and gold rush history while surrounded by wine country. Sacramento is the upcoming destination that should be on your American hit list. With both Virgin and British Airways' new flight routes to the Bay Area and Thomas Cook's new flights to San Francisco, it's never been easier to visit the city that lies just 90 minutes away. The stylish Kimpton Sawyer Hotel recently opened and overlooks the Golden1 Center, home of the Sacramento Kings (NBA Basketball). The hotel has a gorgeous pool deck and serves local cocktails and craft brews for you to make the most of your time outdoors on your sunshine city break. Book it: Rooms at Kimpton Sawyer Hotel start at $159 (£120) per night.
One of the last undiscovered gems of Europe, Tirana is a captivating city offering a Mediterranean lifestyle and cultural treasures free from tourist crowds. The Albanian capital is home to two new museums: the House of Leaves, which was the base for the country's communist phone tapping network, and Bunk’Art which is located inside a huge bunker that dictator Hoxha built for himself and close friends. Aside from the museums, visitors can enjoy family-run restaurants, chic boutiques and Turkish bazaars on a fantastic city break with a difference. Book it: KE Adventure Travel offers an eight-day Balkans holiday from £1,395 including flights.
Although the southern coast of Sri Lanka has become increasingly popular among Brits, the capital Colombo is often overlooked as a city destination. With a broad variety of cultural experiences and impressive colonial buildings, it's worth exploring on a long-haul trip. The new Shangri-La Hotel, Colombo is perfect for adding luxury to your city break and opened at the end of 2017 in the One Galle Face development. It offers uninterrupted Indian Ocean views, immersive experiences such as tuk tuk safaris through vibrant streets, and top-notch Sri Lankan dining. Book it: Rooms at the hotel start from $180 (£135) per night.
In May 2018, Delta is launching the only direct flight between the UK and Portland, Oregon. It will fly from Heathrow four times a week on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays throughout the summer season. Portland is quickly becoming one of the trendiest cities in the USA, renowned for its street food (over 500 carts at any given time), more than 75 micro-breweries and boutique shopping. If you want to go beyond the city, Forest Park – the largest wilderness park in America – is within city limits and there is plenty of surfing or whale watching to be had along the picturesque Pacific Coast. Book it: Return fares with Delta start from £844.
2018 is a big year for culture in Liverpool as the city marks 10 years since it was European Capital of Culture 2008 with a year-long programme of cultural events. 'Eighteen for 18' will be a series of events, exhibitions, seasons and performances commissioned from some of the world’s best artists, musicians and cultural organisations. In February, the world-famous Terracotta Warriors will arrive at the city’s World Museum, and in a nod to the events of 2008, a fleet of tall ships will return to the city (25 to 28 May). Book it: Rooms at the recently opened Arthouse Hotel cost from £71 per night.
One of the hottest new flight routes in 2018 is British Airways' service from Heathrow to Nashville, bringing the Music City to UK travellers from May 2018. BA will fly to the capital of Tennessee five times a week, where 160 live music venues, a thriving food and drink scene and a rich history await. Conveniently positioned between three interstate highways, Nashville is also an excellent starting point for Southern road trips, with Memphis and New Orleans all within easy reach for a fly-drive holiday to America. Book it: Flights start from £749 return with British Airways.
2018 marks an important milestone in Lithuania’s history as the country celebrates the 100th anniversary of the restoration of the State. On the 16th of February 1918, the Council of Lithuania signed a document proclaiming the restoration of the independent state of Lithuania and with a number of events and festivities over the coming year, 2018 is the perfect time to visit its charming capital, Vilnius. Hilton Garden Inn and Hotel Pacai will be the newest hotels to open in the city. During your time in Vilnius, you won't want to miss walking the cobbled streets, exploring the Presidential Palace and Cathedral Basilica, or taking a hot air balloon ride over the picturesque Old Town. Book it: Rooms at Hotel Pacai will start from 160 euros (£143) per night.
2018 is an important year for Vienna as it celebrates the lives of four of its most important protagonists: painters Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele, architect Otto Wagner and graphic artist Koloman Moser, who died 100 years ago. The creativity of these four men and many other protagonists of Modernism in Vienna around 1900 will be celebrated throughout the city in 2018. Some of the unmissable exhibitions will be held at Wien Museum, Leopold Museum and Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna. Book it: One Traveller offers a six-day Imperial Vienna holiday in April, September and October 2018, from £1,640 per person, including flights, accommodation, tours and some meals.
A direct Eurostar service linking London and Amsterdam launches in spring 2018, with a journey time of less than four hours. Amsterdam is beautiful year-round, but with its network of canals, cobbled streets, world-class museums, charming restaurants and cosy cafés, it’s particularly appealing in the spring. Make it a luxury trip by travelling by First Class rail before visiting the excellent Van Gogh Museum, taking in the colourful markets and seeking out the lesser-known quarters such as Jordaan or De Pijp. Book it: Planet Rail offers a three-night break with First Class Eurostar travel from £495 per person, including a stay at the stylish Hotel Estherea.
The beating heart of Manhattan is set to get livelier by early 2018 when Midtown sees the opening of several new major landmark attractions. The jaw-dropping interactive undersea journey that will be National Geographic Encounter: Ocean Odyssey recently opened, along with the first-of-its-kind NFL Experience Times Square. In 2018, the future home of everything 'spy’ at the engaging and empowering Spyscape HQ will launch, as well as country music’s most famous brand, the Grand Ole Opry’s, first 'home away from home' in the shape of Opry City Stage. In addition, new hotel Moxy Times Square offers the largest all-season hotel rooftop bar and lounge in New York City, and the new Edition hotel, opening in 2018, will bring more luxury and sleek design to the neighbourhood. Book it: Rooms at Moxy Times Square start at $139 (£105) per night.
All eyes will be on Russia in 2018 when the FIFA World Cup takes place, with host cities including Moscow, Saint Petersburg and Samara. Kaliningrad, another of the World Cup hosts, is a terrific option for an off-the-beaten-path city break and a terrific alternative to Moscow. This western enclave is separated from mother Russia by hundreds of miles of Lithuanian and Belarusian soil in a region that used to be known as Prussia. Tourism is slowly developing here as people come to see the fascinating place struggling to survive under capitalism. Book it: Regent Holidays offers three-night breaks in Kaliningrad from £485 per person, including flights and a stay at the Kaiserhof Hotel.
Seville has been named the number one place to visit for a city break in 2018, by Lonely Planet's Best in Travel. Praised for being a city of bicycles and trams, its bars and restaurants that capture the latest food and fashion trends, and its passionate lifestyle, the Andalucian capital will host the 31st European Film Awards and "showcase its good looks" in TV fantasy drama Game of Thrones in 2018. Book it: Kirker Holidays offers a three-night break at former archbishop's palace Los Seises from £498 per person, including flights, accommodation and entrance tickets to the cathedral or the Alcazar.