Off the Press: Soho House Amsterdam
5th August 2018

The complex network of canals, Dutch gabled architecture, neon-lit red light district, and hazy smoke-filled ‘coffee shops’ of Amsterdam, may have given the city the unofficial title of ‘Venice of the North’; but our favourite Amsterdam anecdote will always be from John Green, who said, “Some think Amsterdam is a city of sin, but in truth, it is a city of freedom. And in freedom, most people find sin.” It is probably this open-armed embrace of freedom that has peopleflocking to the Dutch Capital, some of those in search of some morally questionable adventures. But, this isn’t a heart-tugging novel from John Green’s repertoire, so — if you’re looking for a less ordinary place to lay your weary head after a day of exploring the modern art of the Stedelijk, then we highly recommend Soho House’s latest opening, Soho House Amsterdam. 
Since opening its first exclusive private member’s club in 1995, Nick Jones has been transforming the world with Soho House’s ‘trendy’ hotel and club concept one city at a time. Following a recent string of architectural restorations, including the impressive transformation of The Old Midland Bank, into what now is every City goers favourite new Art Deco hangout - The Ned. Soho House has transformed Amsterdam’s functionalist marvel, the Bungehuis Building, into one of the Dutch capital’s buzziest new openings.

Dominating the corner of the Spuistraat, the Bungehuis Building was originally the headquarters of a Trading company in the 1930s. It was the first building in the city to completely forego the traditional brick and woodwork of Dutch Gable architecture that has become synonymous with Amsterdam’s traditional cityscapes. Opting instead, for a completely concrete structure that combines art-deco, functionalist, and brutalist design elements. The building is an icon of Amsterdam’s inherently mixed architecture, and has been serving as the Humanities Department of Amsterdam University since then.

"Some think Amsterdam is a city of sin, but in truth, it is a city of freedom.
And in freedom, most people find sin.”


As is the case with several other Soho House acquisitions, Nick Jones and his design team have transformed the Bungehuis building with a winning combination of art deco flair, sleek contemporary design, and modern luxury details. The six storey building has 79 bedrooms, a wrap-around terrace and a rooftop pool, HIIT and Yoga Studios, a vintage screening room, a whole floor of club space, a Cowshed Spa, and a Cecconi’s Restaurant - all of which, at this point, almost seem like pre-requisites for any Soho House property. Cleverly tapping into Amsterdam’s bicycle culture, Soho House Amsterdam will also have plenty of bike racks and a bicycle workshop to answer to all of the Dutch capital’s cycling needs — because if you don’t ride a bicycle in Amsterdam, were you even in the Netherlands?

According to Soho House’s design director Lisa Boronkay, "Everything was covered up by plasterboard and false ceilings, so basically they protected the interior for us." Imagine breaking through plasterboard and finding the building’s original art deco interiors still perfectly intact. They do say that life’s a box of chocolates, and you never know what you are gonna get; and in this case they got beautiful wood and marble panelling, and geometric glazed tile patterns - an art-deco enthusiast’s wet dream. In typical Soho House fashion, Lisa Boronkay and team have taken design cues from these discoveries; from the fabrics inspired by the building’s original windows, to the glazed tile-work and brass lighting fixtures of the lift lobbies and main stairways. Certain elements hark back to the local vernacular, as the Soho House Team cleverly repurpose Dutch antiques to blend seamlessly with their contemporary interiors. The fifth floor club room’s black timbre floors are a reference to historical Dutch architecture, and the fabric lined bar-front is an ode to their penchant for using fabric upholstery.

And while Amsterdam is the perfect embodiment of our favourite Dutch phrase gedogen, which basically means technically illegal but officially tolerated, Soho House Amsterdam is the best place for a slick retreat away from all the raucous or cultural reveries of the city. So, whether or not you’re up for an afternoon at the local ‘coffee shop’ or any other gedogen-style, morally ambiguous activities in the city; rest assured there’s no ambiguity at the Soho House Amsterdam - just the sleek characterful design and impeccable service you’ve come to expect from any Soho House property. 
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Words by Hannah Tan-Gillies

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