Off the Press: Soho House Amsterdam
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.
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.”
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.