If you’ve ever been to Amsterdam you’ve undoubtedly been to Centraal Station. And if you’ve been to Centraal Station you’ve undoubtedly walked through the teeming masses on Damrak, the city’s main artery. Unfortunately like most main arteries (think Market Street in San Francisco or Broadway in New York), Damrak is a bit worse for the wear. Drunken and stoned tourists stumble past Shawarma shops and horrible pizza places while the red light district lurks just around the corner. Maybe not where you’d expect to find one of the most interesting hotels this side of the Ace.
“But that’s exactly what we liked about the location,” explains director Suzanne Oxenaar. “When we learned that the building would be available we had to make a decision very quickly. We went to see it and noticed how everyone walked down the street, looking straight ahead, making their way through the crowds like they were on a catwalk. And we thought ‘it really is like the red carpet.’ And we knew then this was the spot.”
Enter The Exchange Hotel, Oxenaar and partner Otto Nan’s latest venture into the wild world of lodging. Like their first hotel, the Lloyd, in Amsterdam’s Eastern Docklands, The Exchange consists both of one and five star rooms, making for a lively mix. And while the Lloyd staked its claim as a “Cultural Embassy” this go-around the duo aimed for something different.
“When we saw those people walking down Damrak like models we knew what the hotel would be,” Oxenaar explains. “We wanted fashion to meet architecture in a completely unexpected way.” And thus their nearly two year journey through a terrible economy began. Working with the Amsterdam Fashion Institute Oxenaar and Nan enlisted eight students to tackle this enormous task of designing “rooms dressed like models.” They then enlisted the services of design team Matthijs van Cruijsen and Ina Meijer (often simply known as Ina-Mat) to take on the interior design and manage the team of students.
The result was, quite literally, revealed to the world on December 1st in a gala opening attended by seemingly the entire city. In typical laid-back Amsterdam style the former mayor showed up on his bike and the elegantly dressed patrons gathered together in terribly democratic fashion—no VIP rooms or bouncers with clipboards here despite the red carpet—awaiting the big moment. And then it happened. Former AMFI director, Liesbeth in’t Hout who initiated the project with Oxenaar and Nan, strode forth from the hotel’s restaurant, Stock, dressed in a bright red silk nylon dress. As she continued to walk forward her dress pulled on the massive red drape that had hid the new hotel and suddenly it fell like a curtain. There The Hotel Exchange stood, happily amongst its Shawarma shop neighbors. In true Amsterdam spirit, the Damrak welcomed its newest resident with open arms.
LEARN MORE ABOUT THE EXCHANGE HOTEL, VISIT THEM HERE: http://www.exchangeamsterdam.com/en .