Fred Van Eijk

Travel Counsellors Australia Managing Director, Fred van Eijk recently met Jacu Strauss, the Hotel Pulitzer Amsterdam’s Creative Director for a chat on transforming the hotel design via its rich history.

Found in the quaint canals of Amsterdam, the Hotel Pulitzer has been brought back to life and is now a delight to stay in.

From what was passé to a contemporary icon, it took an intense project of three years to truly turn things around for the hotel.

So who better to tell us about this transformation than the Creative Director and acclaimed hotel interior designer; Jacu Strauss.

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Jacu Strauss

I met Jacu in this historic hub of twenty-five joint canal houses, which have all been completely renovated for a radiant future. Surely, this means the Golden Age of hotels is back?

Jacu explained his vision to me on a stroll through the intimate and enchanting maze of rooms, suites, secret gardens, bars and quiet reading retreats.

As we wandered, with an eager instinct, he straightened out paintings on our way, reassembled a few flower bouquets and told a colleague that the furniture in the suite has not been put back in the right arrangement.

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It became instantly clear that he knows each room and every nook and cranny like the back of his hand. Quite an impressive talent as each room is entirely unique.

Before starting this project, Jacu spent the night in each of the rooms and was immediately in awe by the charming closeness of the canals. Jacu told me that his starting vision of the new design was; “When a guest wakes up, they should immediately feel like they’re in Amsterdam.”

Jacu, you were born and raised in South Africa, currently living in London, a man of the world but not an Amsterdam local. How did you tackle this project?

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“During this project I spent four days a week in Amsterdam. Residing in the Jordaan area, right around the corner of the Pulitzer.

I experienced the historic backdrop, the cities unique spirit and traits as a local. The doors here for example are very thickly painted and we’ve worked a lot with layering paint, reminiscent of the typical merchant house doors along the canals.

We’ve also used a local palette of colour and became close-knit with various antique shops.

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This hotel works as a sponge. It absorbs everything. Antiques, modern aesthetics, books and a diversity of styles.

The classic Dutch masterpieces in the Rijksmuseum are an immense inspiration for colour and light composition in different spaces.

I have a weak spot for the charms of this city. I adore history yet embrace the future and you can say the same for Amsterdam.”

 

As a designer of spectacular projects in the world of hospitality, could you tell me a little bit about your views on current trends?

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“Trends don’t really phase me. They come and go. I’m looking for authentic stories that endure, to create a dialogue between us and the guests.

Implementing trends means following, not showing your true talents and finesse. More than ever, hotels are fine-tuning their personal approach, an evolution I like leaving my mark on.

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I can however, feel that the trends are heading towards a certain elegance. Less industrial and harsh.

I’ve designed many open kitchens; however, the whole thing falls to pieces when the kitchen team isn’t acting their part in the theatre of it. In the end you create for the guests experience.”

 

The iconic hotel bar the Pulitzer’s Bar and the restaurant Jansz. are two of the best Amsterdam tips. Have you got any other tips up your sleeve and what are some places on your wish list?

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“A trip to Petra in Jordan is highest on my wish list. It is a country that has both rough and soft elements to it.

The work of mankind blends elegantly with nature. That contrast is fascinating. I’d also love to explore Mexico and Antarctica and experience the northern lights.”

“I’m often in New York. The High Line is one-of-a-kind. To cast off or take down a place like this would be terrible.

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The High Line, New York

Re-imagining old train tracks into a serene walking area creates a truly unique place for New York. My favourite restaurant there is Mission Chinese right in China Town and you can find me sipping cocktails in the historic The Carlyle Hotel.

Malta is another place I visit often. Warm people and age-old stories of history.

In London I love to eat tapas at the Barrafina in Soho, utmost authentic.

However, of all those places Amsterdam has truly stolen my heart. Did you know Amsterdam is more romantic than Venice?”

Have you visited Amsterdam? What was the best thing about it? Share with us below.