Amsterdam, Antwerp and Versailles….. Oh My!

Hotel De L’Europe on my morning walk.

Amsterdam: We were invited by the Hotel De l’Europe Amsterdam and the Leading Hotel of the World to celebrate Kings Day, which is the birthday of the

Hotel De L’Europe Kings Day Boat Party

King Tim for the day

King and since the Royal Family bears the name Huis van Oranje (House of Orange) it is their national color, plus it also represents unity.

The Hotel De l’Europe is privately owned by the Heineken Family and the oldest Luxury hotel in Amsterdam located in the heart of the city on the Amstel River.  It has 4 restaurants, Marie a classic French restaurant, Trattoria Graziella for Italian, the two-star Michelin Flore, and the famous Freddy’s Bar where Alfred (Freddy) Heineken spent many days and had a phone at the bar with a direct line to the head offices of Heineken.

The hotel has modern luxuries but still honors its rich history.  The lobby is stunning, and the rooms are very well appointed and very comfy.  We were lucky enough to receive a room overlooking the river in a one-bedroom suite.  As the celebrations for Kings Day start the night before with over 500,000 Dutch residences pour into the city.  We were afraid that we would be disturbed by all the loud partying, but once we closed the windows all was quiet and peaceful.

The hotel offered us tickets to the Van Gogh Museum with private entrance and VIP arrival with the CEO Paul  van Dalsen.  He gave us a brief intro to the history of the museum and then an audio set to roam around on our own.  It was a very busy museum, and it was really well designed with 5 stories of Van Gogh paintings.  The best part was being delivered to the museum in the hotels specially made buggy to buzz us through traffic easily, picture a slender golf cart/slash limo.

We ate at all the restaurants except Flore, the 2 Michelin Star restaurant located in the hotel, and the food was fantastic and so was the service.  In fact, the service was great throughout the hotel, and everyone addressed us by name.

Kings Day was incredibly wild and fun, they had a 40-foot boat that was filled with food, Veuve Champagne (orange label rules the water ways), wine and Heineken beer, which had its own private label for the De l’Europe.  Yes, there were non-alcoholic beverages as well, but little was consumed, it’s a party after all.  We spent 5 hours on the boat and the people and boat watching was the best we have ever witnessed. Everyone in orange and a few fell off boats, but no one was harmed, just wet and giddy.

Monastery at Botanical Sanctuary Hotel

Antwerp:  Why are we not selling more of this amazing city?  The Botanical Sanctuary Hotel Antwerp is a must see and feel property, It is in the heart of the city, but a true sanctuary and is adjacent to the Botanical Gardens.  Did you know Antwerp has 18 Michelin Star restaurants?  Now that is worthy of massive medals.

The hotel is a hidden gem nestled within historic Antwerp — a city renowned for its vibrant fashion and lifestyle scene, exquisite diamonds, and rich cultural heritage. It is a unique blend of luxurious comfort, world-class dining, and rejuvenating wellness experiences inspired by our monastic roots. Immerse yourself in the rich history of our 5-star superior hotel, surrounded by the enchanting beauty of the Botanical Garden.  Antwerp is easily

Belgium’s most underrated city. In fact, the diamond capital of the world is somewhat of an undiscovered gem. The hotel has five buildings, the old Monastery, a charming chapel with its original organ (only a few people in the world can play it), a new building, two other buildings that were out buildings of the monastery and adjacent to Antwerp’s Botanical Garden.

The art scene in Antwerp is truly amazing and is designed to attract all ages, which is really impressive to attract small children to enjoy modern to ancient art.  The hotel hosts one of the most impressive Sunday Brunches we have ever experienced. It has one seating and the place is sold out every week.  Costly, but really worth it.  The spa is fabulous too and busy.  Europeans really understand the meaning of going to a spa – they spend hours there using every therapy allowed, from red-light therapy room, sauna, steam, reflexology foot baths, pool, hot tub, cold plunge, you name it they have it.  A true sanctuary.

The hotel also has a famous 2-star Michelin restaurant Hertog Jan located on the grounds and they are only open 10 days a month, and reservations are not easy to come by, so make sure to let the hotel know you want to dine there and they will make it happen when you book your stay.

All the restaurants were fabulous and the service extraordinary, but the Sunday Brunch is not to be missed.  There is only one seating time, and you would think all of Antwerp was there waiting for the doors to open, because they were.  Dress in their finest and ready for the brunches of all brunches.  It is an unforgettable experience.  Costly, but worth every penny.

If you have clients that love Europe, FOOD, wine, art and diamonds, Antwerp is the answer and the Botanical Sanctuary Hotel Antwerp is the only place they should stay.

Versailles Hall of Mirrors all to ourselves.

Versailles:  Opulence is the only word that I can start with.  The gardens are insane, and the hotel is the most luxury hotel we have every stayed in.  Airelles Chateau de Versailles, Le Grand Contrôle, which was the home of the Minister of Finance to the France hence the name Le Grand Contrôle.  The entire hotel is set to feel and look like the late 1800’s and it does.  It is a step back in time with all the modern conveniences.  Rooms are so incredibly well appointed, and all snacks and minibar beverages are all inclusive.  The hotel staff are all dressed in 1880 attire, and yes that means the ladies are in long dresses and the men are wearing tights.

Included in your stay is a private tour of the palace and the private quarters of the Marie Antionette, your very on buggy (golf cart) to view all the gardens, boat tickets for the king’s lake (make sure you get the powered boat and not the row boats), and a private tour of Petite Maison, Marie Antoinette’s summer home (small palace), and the famous high tea.  It has been advertised as the back entrance to the palace but that is not possible since the area that connects the palace and the Le Grande Controle is under restoration.  But they either walk you over or have cars/van to take you to the palace entrance.

The bedding, towels, amenities in the room are the best we have every experienced and we slept like babies after a light dinner in the library as we choose to pass on the 8 course 2 Star Michelin restaurant, since we had our fair share of Michelin Star eating, we opted for a lovely dinner in the library.

One night was not long enough to do all you can and to really get to know Versailles, two night minimum would be best, but three nights would allow you to enjoy the gardens a bit more, and the charming town that surrounds the palace, which is rumored to have amazing shops and restaurants.  There is always next time… right?

Galleria Lafayette

Paris:  We stayed at Esprit St Germain and as always it is very nice.  Little rooms but great location and price point.  We arrived on May 1, which is a French National Holiday – Labour Day. – The streets were packed with locals and the restaurants we open but none of the shops.

The following day we went to Galleria Lafayette to do some shopping and to eat in their food/market area which is two levels.  We also wanted to check out the Virtuoso Concierge which is located in the main building (there are 5 – so you have to ask) go to level 3 and look for Concierge.  With Virtuoso you are able to use their lounge which serves you soft drinks, water, coffee and tea and pre-package sweets.  It does have a private bathroom – so that was nice.  They also do all your VAT rebates right there, so you don’t have to do it at the airport.  Note:  you must have your physical passport with you because they scan the passport so digital does not work. Make sure you let your clients know this.  The best amenity with this service is the free transfer back to your hotel! – If you spend €1200 this service is included.  They also allow you to include your food receipts.

The Galleria Lafayette was crazy busy, you would have thought it was Christmas, but they say it is a normal day to them.  Five 5 story buildings buzzing with shoppers – it was wonderful to feel and see.  The Parisians know how to shop, and they do it very well.  So if your clients find themselves stuck on a rainy day, send them to The Galleria Lafayette, they will thank you.