During the magical end-of-year period, Jérôme Stéfanski suggests crossing the borders to discover what surprises and experiences neighbouring countries can offer
Some people think Amsterdam is only good for crazy young travellers who are mainly interested in “sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll”. On the other hand, the capital of Holland is also a romantic town, where each moment is unique. Upscale districts are often cheek-by-jowl with mass-tourist sites, with plenty of ‘coffee’ and sex shops. There are also many exclusive shops offering rare and original products for under the Christmas tree. That’s why, ideally, you should plan your trip before visiting the city, and a good city trip starts with the selection of a hotel that meets every need. In Amsterdam, where it is difficult to drive a car because everybody rides a bike, the best hotel is probably one that’s located near the main tourist conveniences, but not exactly in the epi-centre of such attractions.
HISTORICAL AND COSMOPOLITAN
For those who want a wonderful experience in an historic hotel that blends a warm family environment with international standards, we strongly recommend that you stay at Hotel Pulitzer. The hotel comprises 25 historical canal side houses dating back to the 17th and 18th centuries, all with a rich history and their own story to tell. Founded 35 years ago, Hotel Pulitzer is located in the middle of the Amsterdam Canal District, which has been added to the UNESCO World Heritage List. Around the hotel, you will discover many art galleries, fashion boutiques, top bars and romantic restaurants and also museums. The train station is located only one kilometre away, the international Schiphol airport is 20 km or 20 minutes by taxi. A member of the Luxury Collection group, this hotel offers 230 rooms and suites. While each of the rooms is unique in its design, they all share the comfort and conveniences that are the standards of a five-star hotel.
Keizersgracht 238 is the hotel’s restaurant, with a fresh and energizing new concept that is considered the best grill experience in Amsterdam – a variety of flavors that invites the guest to travel around the world. One of the highlights is the ever-changing recipe influenced by the seasons of the Netherlands. Guests can also enjoy the lush outdoor garden, which is the perfect setting in summer months for a delicious meal under the Dutch sun.
Hotel Pulitzer Amsterdam Prinsengracht 315-331, 1016 GZ Amsterdam, The Netherlands T.+31(0) 20 80 80 368 www.pulitzeramsterdam.com
CONTEMPORARY STYLE MEETS AUTHENTIC SPIRIT
Williers is one of the smallest and the most peaceful towns in France, in the north-east of the Ardennes region. Located between the Belgian towns of Bouillon and Virton, Williers is close to Belgium and access is easy from Brussels, thanks to the E411. It’s here that the story of Odette began – the old café, where the local inhabitants met each other to play cards and share a drink, became the most exclusive hotel of the region.
The original idea of the founder was perhaps a little bit risky, but bold – transforming the historical site into a contemporary and luxury hotel, without forgetting to preserve the original warmth and reassuring atmosphere. The owner met the challenge and guests who visit Chez Odette immediately feel at home.
Because only nine exclusive rooms are available and located in two separate houses, you can be sure that you will enjoy discreet luxury and top service. Each room is a relaxing haven styled in dark wood and candlelight – four different categories are offered to meet your requirements, but even the starter category is spacious and decorated in style, with its own real chimney and stock of logs. If you have the chance to stay there, you should absolutely try Chez Odette, the hotel restaurant that is run by talented chef Cédric Lamkin, a purist of his craft who creates a visual and sensory feast using only the best seasonal ingredients and his innovative imagination. After dining, have a drink at Odette’s bar, which is the heart and soul of the hotel.
Here, you can enjoy a local beer from Orval, sample Odette’s special Guignolet-Kirsch or a Picon with white wine, while tasting fine cheeses and country pate and view a gallery of old black-and-white prints depicting scenes from the village in years gone by, providing a greater understanding of this special little place. And, for those who want a sweet souvenir from their countryside trip, Odette has just launched a new luxury candle. The perfect occasion to bring home a part of the multi-sensorial atmosphere that reigns here. Last but not least, two years ago Odette opened Odette en Ville, a hotel-restaurant located close to the Place du Chatelain in Brussels.
Chez Odette Rue Principale, Williers 08110 France T.+33(0) 3 24 55 49 55 www.chez-odette.com