Hotel Arena

Rima Suqi • August 29, 2017

Photos: Hotel Arena

After two years and a reported $15 million renovation, Amsterdam’s Hotel Arena has been fully reimagined as the ideal European retreat with a new 16-room wing, restaurant, and meeting spaces. It’s the vision of owner Paul Hermanides, who made a name for himself as a restaurateur with dining establishments in many cultural institutions (including Museumcafe Mokum in the Amsterdam Museum and Neva in the Hermitage Museum Amsterdam). Hermanides bought the 131-year-old building, originally a Catholic orphanage, more than 20 years ago. While he has made minor changes in the time since, about three years ago, he tapped local firms Team V Architectuur and Tank Interior Design for a large-scale renovation of the imposing 118,400 square-foot property.

This was a continuation of a 15-year relationship between Hermanides and Tank, who he originally commissioned to do graphic design work for the hotel, and then tasked with designing the interior for the hotel’s modern club, located in what once was the orphanage’s chapel. “Over the years, we did a lot of different projects within the building,” explains Sanne Schenk, Tank’s founding partner. “We changed the lobby entrance area, we changed the hotel rooms. We were working on small-ish aspects of the hotel, but now we have the chance to give it a completely new face.”

The hotel sits on Oosterpark, the first public park in the municipality of Amsterdam, which was originally designed as an English garden by Dutch landscape architect Leonard Anthony Springer. The 30-acre park, known for its populations of wild birds including herons and parrots (really), was laid out just five years after the imposing building, now the 139-room Hotel Arena, was constructed. Until this renovation, there wasn’t much of a relationship between the building and the park.

“The brief was to make the park part of the hotel and the hotel part of the park,” explains Schenk. The entrance to the building was also moved so it is now right on the park, and most of that side of the building was opened up, either literally or with the addition of windows, to bring the outside in. There is a green rooftop garden on top of Park restaurant, where harvested herbs and vegetables are used to create the Mediterranean-inspired menu, as well as a large patio that is practically in the park. In the restaurant, Schenk’s team blended the two even further, using natural materials, verdant green plants, and ochre tiles that, she says, “are bright and positive, like being outside in the sun.”

The existing rooms, which Tank designed seven years ago, remained as they were, but the new wing with 16 additional accommodations needed to be considered. These were also furnished in Scandinavian style, with a focus on natural materials like whitewashed oak, leather, and carpets made from recycled materials. “It is more lush than minimal,” Schenk points out. “We wanted to make it bright and not so intrusive so you have more space for yourself. It is quite timeless.”