24-Hour Room Service: Hotel Pulitzer, Amsterdam

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The Independent Travel

It could win a prize. The Pulitzer is a stunning conversion of 25 restored 17th- and 18th-century canal houses that coalesce into a luxury hotel. The location is perfect for a visitor to the Dutch capital - on the edge of the leafy Jordaan area, Amsterdam's most characterful quarter, and just minutes away from the Anne Frank House.

It could win a prize. The Pulitzer is a stunning conversion of 25 restored 17th- and 18th-century canal houses that coalesce into a luxury hotel. The location is perfect for a visitor to the Dutch capital - on the edge of the leafy Jordaan area, Amsterdam's most characterful quarter, and just minutes away from the Anne Frank House.

The quadrangle of houses that forms the hotel is framed by water to front and back, with the rear of the building looking on to the Keizersgracht. In the centre of the hotel are delightful courtyard gardens, and a glass walkway housing an art gallery. The atmosphere is calm, light and airy - especially so in summer, when the gardens provide a tranquil haven for al fresco eating.

The Pulitzer's five stars are well deserved. It has a stylish bar and restaurant that attracts diners from all over the city. A design feature is a wacky wall painting of jovial mock-17th century diners in the manner of a Jan Steen tableau. But its pièce de résistance is a fabulous canal cruiser available for use by hotel guests. Built in 1909 from solid teak and now restored with brass fittings, bevelled glass, Tiffany lamps and art nouveau fretwork, the Tourist is a piece of Amsterdam's history. In 1946 Winston Churchill took a private tour of the city in her. Cruises for guests run daily at 5pm, with an additional cruise at 11am on Sundays, and cost €33 (£24). At other times, guests can charter the boat (and skipper) privately for €260 (£185) an hour.

LOCATION

Sheraton Hotel Pulitzer, Prinsengracht 315-331, Amsterdam (00 31 20 523 52 35, www.luxurycollection.com)

Time to international airport: a taxi direct to the hotel from Schipol airport takes about half an hour and costs €35 (£23). Alternatively, take the 20-minute train ride from Schipol to Amsterdam Central Station €2.90 (£2) and a taxi to the hotel €7 (£4.50).

If you're cursed with awkward flight times, guests of the Pulitzer can also make use of some of the facilities at its sister hotel, the Sheraton Amsterdam Airport Hotel, while they wait. Check with reception at the Pulitzer about this.

COMFORTABLE?

Each of the 230 rooms at the Pulitzer is unique because the hotel is comprised of parts of separate buildings. Most of the rooms on Prinsengracht, originally within warehouses, have wooden floors and exposed brickwork; those on Keizersgracht (formerly grand houses for wealthy merchants) are carpeted and have higher ceilings. I fell in love with room 375, a tiny beamed attic with a private roof terrace.

For those who choose not to look directly on to a canal, some of the garden rooms have individual patios (room 172 is a favourite). All rooms are comfortably furnished in the Dutch traditional style. Bathrooms are marble and bedlinen is predictably crisp and white.

Freebies: standard toiletries, a bottle of mineral water and a chocolate each evening on your pillow.

Keeping in touch: some "Executive" rooms offer wireless internet connections. Check when you book. Otherwise, the hotel has a 24-hour business centre in the lobby, offering online computers, plus printing, scanning and fax facilities. Internet access is charged at €8 (£5.50) for 15 minutes.

THE BOTTOM LINE

The room rate for double occupancy starts at an eye-watering €430 (£307) per night, excluding the buffet breakfast which is charged at €25 (£14). With planning you can do considerably better, however. I was on a two-night "City of Culture" break booked via www.hotels.com, which cost just over half this rate and included breakfast, museum tickets, champagne and a four-course dinner.

I'm not paying that: the Hotel Agora at Singel 462 (00 31 20 627 22 00, www.hotelagora.nl) is also located in a canal house - directly on the Singel canal and a stone's throw from the floating flower market. The house dates from 1735, and has 16 pleasant rooms - mostly with private bathrooms. A double room with private bathroom costs €118 (£85) per night including breakfast, rising to €133 (£97) for a canal view.

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