The much anticipated direct service from London to Amsterdam launches next week, taking travellers twice daily between the cities in just over 3 hours. Recently our Marketing Executive, Eppie Shepherd, received a sneak peek of Eurostar’s upcoming route and a quick reminder of why Banks Sadler loves Amsterdam for incentives and events, one of our top 10 destinations for 2018.
Leaving the crowded platforms of St Pancras, there are only a few short stops before reaching Amsterdam. In just over 3 hours and 40 minutes, we passed French hills and Dutch windmills on route to the capital, a far more scenic ride than beyond the clouds. For business trips, entire carriages can be hired exclusively with a huge variety of on board entertainment options. Our journey sped by with cheese and beer tasting, a fascinating introduction to Dutch art and a perfume workshop with scents based on each of the Eurostar’s endpoints.
On arrival, welcome drinks and a varied selection of delicious light bites were served at the DoubleTree Hilton’s rooftop bar. The SkyLounge on the 11th floor proved the perfect spot to give guests a first glimpse of Amsterdam, with riverside views and a spot of sunshine.
From the skies to the water, the group took to the canals on a private cruise. Gliding through the city’s higgledy piggledy streets is perhaps one of the most magical ways to experience Amsterdam – with more cheese tasting of course! Boats can be exclusively hired for any formality with hop-on hop-off options and of course on board dining against the picturesque waterways.
Despite its rather intimate size, Amsterdam is filled with a surprising range of luxury hotels, from boutique to beloved brands. I stayed in the NH Collection’s Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky, a 5 star property that elegantly combines chic interiors, homey facilities and one of Amsterdam’s best views, looking out over Dam Square. Curtains are opened to locals passing by, tourists examining the National Monument or views of the Royal Palace – perhaps a Royal event might be witnessed. The 451 room hotel additionally has a strikingly decorated Michelin starred restaurant and cocktail bar with its own miniature garden secluded in the middle of the ground floor.
For guests on a leisurely trip, this is as much as they’ll see however for business and events, a separate entrance welcomes meetings and gatherings of all sizes. As well as 22 meeting rooms, the Grand Ballroom has a capacity for 600 guests and the beautiful Winter Garden is a truly memorable setting. Full of natural light and iconic design it also has a historical spirit, once hosting the Dutch Royal Wedding dinner.
The NH Collection has an additional property perfect for groups; The Barbizon Palace. This truly unique hotel celebrates its roots with wooden beams and pointed ceilings originating from the 17th century town houses that form its structure. In the centre sits a 15th century chapel, used today to create the most majestic of event space.
Other luxury hotels in Amsterdam include the trendy W Hotel with its chic rooftop bar, Sofitel’s The Grand with a rich historical past and the Mövenpick whose meeting rooms look out onto the river. But the city doesn’t lack in boutique properties, with hotels such as The Hoxton, The Dylan and Sir Albert making an appearance.
The latter’s brother across the river has become the talk of the Dam. Sir Adam’s Lookout offers unrivalled views of Amsterdam from the roof but unlike any other Observation Deck, guests can swing out over the edge, 100 metres above the city below their feet. I couldn’t resist riding on Europe’s highest swing and well, let’s just say it was definitely an adrenaline surge! For those who don’t fancy the ride, a panoramic bar is a less windy place to enjoy a drink whilst admiring the same views.
Next door is another of Amsterdam’s latest attractions. THISISHOLLAND is an immersive experience that gives guests a chance to see the rest of the country without leaving their seat. If you’ve ever ridden Walt Disney World’s Soar ride you’ll know what to expect… if not than buckle up and enjoy the flight!
In between flying, swinging and cruising the canals, Amsterdam has a set of unique venues hidden within its town houses. An example of which is the Beurs Van Berlage conference centre which impressed with its striking interiors among the former stock exchange building.
With just 24 hours in the city, travelling by Eurostar provided a shorter, easier route to Amsterdam which importantly is also considerably more environmentally friendly than flying. The return trip to London currently requires travellers to change at Brussels due to passport control regulations; however there are works in motion for this to be conducted in the Netherlands. These significant advantages are a game changer for quick business trips and stress-free group travel and we expect it will become a mainstream mode of transport for both.