The Hotel Seven Bridges is everything you want in a European hotel. It is in the middle of a kick-ass city (Amsterdam!) but not too close to the middle (near Rembrandt Square); it is small, every room is unique, and they’re all full of stunning antiques which lend themselves oh so well to becoming the French aristocrat you feel yourself to be in your delusional, fevered imaginings.
The proprietors of this hotel, which is at the corner of Reguliersgracht and Keizergracht canals, have superb taste in decorating with gaudy, precious things while still managing, somehow, to keep the gilded woodwork, ornate fixtures, and Louis XV era chaises tasteful and fitting. It’s as understated and subtle as 18th century aristocratic furniture can be, and there is no way to feel classier than reclining on a chaise and bemoaning the decline of the aristocracy. The armchair I sat in to take my shoes off has clawed feet and dragon heads for arms. The 19th century french Boulle table my computer is sitting on is an ancient gilded thing with an Egyptian theme made of gold, brass, and tortoise shell in-lay; never before has my old Powerbook G4 felt so classy—almost as if it had an actual Intel chip and any measurable amount of RAM.
From their website: Exquisite and elegant authentic antiques from Baroque, Louis XV, Louis XVI, Empire, Biedermeier to Art Deco from the leading auction houses of the world, such as Sotheby’s, Christie’s, Schloss Ahlden/Hannover (not the usual antique-style-furnishings of the better 4 & 5 star hotels, which are only modern remakes).
Remakes indeed. Not here!
The history of this place wasn’t what I expected, and it somehow makes it better. Back in 1967 an American student living here decided to forgo the self-serving and irrelevant world of academia and work with his hands, so the proprietor tells me, and he started buying and fixing up old townhouses and apartments. The building that now houses the Hotel Seven Bridges was an old merchant house, and it was never really intended to be a hotel. Rooms were rented out as was common in those days, but the building had permanent tenants as well. As they died off, as they all eventually did, their apartments were converted to hotel rooms, filled with antiques, and only gradually and in this natural and organic way did the Hotel Seven Bridges emerge. The proprietors are always on the lookout for other antiques fitting for this place, and if it’s suitable, and they have space (and money), it becomes part of the permanent fixture of this Hotel.
My room is incredible, the spacious Garden Room #5. “With a gilded ceiling, a 17th century Dutch Rankenkast from Sotheby’s”—really the most remarkable wooden inlay work I have ever seen—“an 18th century Louis XVI Dutch mirror from Sotheby’s, two 19th century gilt wood and gesso mirrors from France, an Italian 19th century mirror, exquisite Italian curtains, a precious French bedspread, a gorgeous oriental carpet, a French chair from ca. 1880, two leather chairs from the 1930’s…and—last but not least—a 40 inch flat screen TV.” Also, free wireless internet, thank god!
These gentlemen take their profession quite seriously. Please, have a look at their website where these breathtaking rooms and antiques are described in more detail. A considerable and delicious breakfast is delivered to your room each morning, perhaps you’ll take it on the veranda amidst the rose bushes? Or stay in bed, nestled under the precious Lyonine french bedspread? Just don’t spill the coffee.
By: Ben Britz