Upon entering the newly reopened Hotel Pulitzer Amsterdam, you’re instantly reminded of Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel. To one side of the entry are neat rows of paint cans that have been repurposed into flowerpots. Tiled reception desks with brass trim are the first sight to greet visitors. Behind them, portraits hang from brass railings. (Notice a theme here?)
Near the concierge is the hotel’s café, Pause. It’s adorned with white Carrara marble, yellow gold accents, and rich, emerald-hued velvet seating by Gubi. Freshly baked chocolate croissants, which sit enclosed in a domed cake stand on the counter, are delivered every morning. Take a look at the glass casing and you'll find a display of colorful French pastries that rival Ladurée.
Even the hotel’s other restaurant, Jansz (pronounced yahnz), sounds and looks like it belongs in a film. Pink pastel napkins embroidered with the restaurant’s name in cursive script adorn the tabletops.
The hotel has 225 rooms, and no two are the same. Each is bold in color and contains tufted furniture, old-fashioned phones, white marble, and custom bar carts equipped with something for everyone: crystal glassware, a whiskey decanter, Betjeman & Barton tea, and a French press by Bodum.
Peter Pulitzer, the grandson of the Pulitzer Prize founder, first opened the hotel in 1969. It comprises 25 separate buildings, and because it sits along Amsterdam’s canals, the buildings are protected from structural changes. Picture varying heights reminiscent of quirky European films like Amélie and The Science of Sleep. The buildings are connected to each another by endless corridors.
Creative director Jacu Strauss spent three years on the project and admits that when he saw The Grand Budapest Hotel, he noticed plenty of similarities. He says the design, however, wasn’t inspired by the film. In his words, “The hotel wrote itself.” Like the Dutch do, we greeted the 35-year-old interior designer with three kisses on the cheek and chatted décor over an espresso and a croque monsieur.
MYDOMAINE: Where did you get your inspiration for this project?
JACU STRAUSS: I drew inspiration from the history of these 25 different buildings. Most of them are about 400 years old. Beyond the hotel, it was some of the obvious ones, like going to the Rijksmuseum. Seeing some of the old masters, but also just seeing how they showcased the old masters. I got inspired by the colors they used on the walls, but also the colors that were picked up on the paintings. Anything else was from really random sources like looking at old doors. I was inspired by old paneling. … Even temporary cladding inspired me.
MD: How did you incorporate Amsterdam into the design?
JS: The canals are a really big part of Amsterdam life. People really use them and have a real connection with the canals here. For most of the rooms, I’ve managed to bring a bit of a nautical theme with portals looking into the bathrooms. So if you don’t have a canal view, if you have a courtyard view, when you wake up there is still a little hint of the city.
MD: Who did you design this space for?
JS: It’s a place where you could walk through as a visitor, as a guest, as a local, as a neighbor. I wanted to be very inclusive.
MD: Where’s your favorite spot in the hotel?
JS: That changes from time to time. … There’s a secret sort of corner above a really nice old staircase, and there’s this antique roll-top desk that no one really knows about, so that was my favorite little spot when I discovered it. People still don’t find it when I tell them about it.
MD: How many different spots would you say there are?
JS: Oh, it’s endless. It’s a labyrinth. I realized how endless it was when we had to order the carpet for the corridors.
MD: What was your biggest splurge?
JS: The artwork in the lobby. It’s by an artist named Richard Kuiper. It was artwork that I had my eye on for two years, and I had to twist a few arms for us to get it in here.
MD: How would you describe your design style?
JS: It depends on the project. I make my life difficult. I really start from scratch every single time. I’ve been very lucky enough to be given loads of different and challenging properties, so they’re all unique, and there’s no way you could have a cookie-cutter approach to them. But I think what my style is developing into is having an eclectic mix of things. This project was just heaven for me because it was the old and the new, the rough and the smooth, the local and the international.
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