Rarely do I accept blogger-freebies. I blog because I love exploring the world and trying new things, and of course taking photos and sharing my adventures along the way. If content goes on my blog, it’s because it’s right for me and it’s right for you. Bottom line – you’ve gotta be really, really special to be featured on Pressed Words.
That said, when the Radisson Blu asked me to join their European blogger program, I said ‘yes’ for a couple of reasons. Firstly, as a member of their program I would get to travel around Europe and eat a lot of really good food. So the experience and the resulting content was right for Pressed Words (and my belly). Secondly, I really like the Radisson Blue mantra. They’re ‘yes’ people – they pride themselves on always being positive and solution oriented, and I too hold these values in high regard. So the brand also seemed like a good fit. And lastly, as an ambassador of the Radisson Blu, I would get to meet other kick ass travel bloggers from around Europe. I’ve been crap at networking in the blogging-world, and to be frank, I also thought it would be cool to meet some new people outside of the advertising-sphere (aka my daily grind). Plus, just look at how pretty the lobby is!
As part of the program, I was invited to discover my local Radisson Blu. I lucked out, as the Radisson Blu Hotel in Amsterdam is one of the best. In 2011 it was voted hotel of the year. They have good food, a great atmosphere, and of course, the most positive staff I have ever come across (and that’s saying a lot, especially in Holland!) Anyways, I don’t want to bore on about how great the hotel is. So let me tell you a little bit about my Radisson Blu adventure.
I arrived on Friday night around 6pm. The hotel manager was in the lobby to greet me and hand over my room key. I stayed in a business class room which was lovely. There was a live plant in the room, which might sound trivial among the long list of things I could compliment, but that small burst of life and color really brought a happy pop to my evening. I was also gifted a miniature Dutch canal house filled with licorice, and this card – Hello adorable Dutch stationary, where can I find you, sans Radisson Blu logo?! Anyways, after a quick selfie, a brush of my hair, and a self-guided tour of the room, I headed back downstairs for dinner and drinks.
I promise that this is the last time I will gush on about how cool the hotel is, but yes, it is cool. The hotel was built-in and around a series of old historic buildings – 18th-century merchant houses, a 19th-century vicarage, and Amsterdam’s oldest paper factory. Instead of knocking down houses or destroying lovely pieces of history, the Radisson Blu is built around and above beautiful facades. So when you enter the lobby, the first thing you will notice is a high, glass ceiling. And the second thing you will notice is the house that lives below the high, glass ceiling. However, the house is missing a wall and you’re more than welcome to peep right in. In fact, the hotel used to be a church, and this house used to be the vicar’s home. Ironically, it is now one of Amsterdam’s most beautiful bars, with the vicar’s chimney, fireplace, and wood-beam ceilings still intact!The doors that are hung on the brick chimney used to be the doors to the church. The hotel manager found them in the vaults in the hotel basement a few years ago, and had them cleaned and restored. They are now a beautiful centerpiece to the hotel’s bar. I learned all of this over cocktails. Myself, another Amsterdam blogger (Ashley, her awesome blog is here), and the coordinator of the blogger program (Alessandra, up visiting from Paris) took turns firing endless questions at the hotel manager. What is the craziest thing you’ve ever had to do for a guest? How did you get into the hotel business? What’s your least favorite part about working at the Radisson Blu?As the drinks flowed, the conversation became more merry, and soon it was time for the hotel manager to depart. It was also clear we needed some food. So we enjoyed our first taster in the bar – a delicious amuse bouche of both beef and fish.After our taster, we were invited into the hotel restaurant, de Palmboom (the Palm Tree) for dinner.It was still quite early for dinnertime on a Friday, so the staff was attentive and all ours! This also meant I did not have to be shy about taking photos :)The hotel atmosphere was lovely. Fresh flowers and melting candles adorned every table, the floors were hard wood and the lighting was just right for a Friday night. The only thing missing was the wine and food, which was soon flowing endlessly.We started off with Maas-Rijn-IJssel carpaccio. Essentially, there is a plain in Holland surrounded by three intersecting rivers – the Maas, the Rijn, and the IJssel. Happy, well fed live on said plain, hence the name of the beef. The cows double as milk cows, and live long, free-range lives. So the beef is homegrown in Holland and tastes amazing. Most of the ingredients at de Palmboom are seasonal and native to Holland, and if they are imported, they are always best in class. This made for a delicious meal.
With each course we were served a glass of wine or a spritzer, by the end of the night I had my, erm, drunk face on! The second course was oxtail, served in a light broth. To be honest, this was not my favorite course (a bit too salty for my taste), but the presentation was simple and lovely, and both of the other ladies slurped it up within seconds!The main course was my favorite – it was a light and fragrant catfish. I chowed half way into the dish before reminding myself that I was eating catfish! It tasted light and flaky – like a sole or a very tender haddock. Catfish is now up on my favorite list – I have a habit of LOVING ugly fish – monkfish, catfish . . . the list goes on!For dessert we had tea, a small platter of chocolate and cookies, and a whopping plate of french toast, rum raisins, and raisin ice cream.B would have loved this dish, as raisins are his absolute favorite! I thought it was great, but I’m more of a chocolate lady. I prefer overly sweet, although I have to say this dish was a great balance to round out the meal.
Following our dinner, Ashley and Alessandra hit the hotel bar. I kindly excused myself, and went upstairs to enjoy the room. I took a lovely rain shower and enjoyed scrubbing for bed whilst standing on a warm, heated floor. Plopping down into my fluffy king size bed was the best. I had Invited B to join me, but that night was his office work party and he wanted to crawl drunkenly home all by his lonesome. Fine with me! I’m all for being a bed hog ;)
I have to say, I’ve never stayed in a hotel in my own city before, but it is something I would do again, especially at the Radisson Blu. It was nice to escape my daily routine, and be pampered a bit as well! If you live in Amsterdam, the Radisson Blu bar is a great, hidden gem. The atmosphere is one of a kind and the cocktails are delicious as well (I will however save THAT story for next time). I can see myself going back there with B for a romantic nibble and sip, or a quiet after dinner drink. It’s a great spot to surprise friends with – you would never expect this kind of historic spot to be hidden in the Radisson Blu!
If you’re from out of town, I would definitely recommend a night at the Radisson Blu. No, they did not tell me to say this. But I think they have a good thing going on. They are smack in the city center, but off of the direct tourist path. So you wont get lost but you also wont get woken up by drunks walking home in the middle of the night. The hotel has a very historic Dutch feel, which is what you want when you come to Amsterdam – a chance to experience the city’s beautiful history and architecture, with a modern dose of charm. And lastly, the folks at the Radisson Blu are cool people. The vibe there is classy, and the staff went above and beyond in helping out. Everyone gets the VIP treatment, which is a rare gem in Amsterdam!
Anyways, that’s enough rambling – you can find the hotel link here. And if you have any questions, please do ask. I have so much Radisson Blu knowledge now, I’m probably over-eager to share!
Radisson Blu part two to come :)