Up until the fifteenth century, Amsterdam had never had any need to build defence walls. The city was situated in the middle of marshlands and swamps. The only thing that separated it from the countryside was a deep canal surrounding the entire city. In 1482, when the danger of war was imminent, the citizens constructed a wall with towers at its farthest corners in only one year. One of these towers was called “Rondeel”, built in 1535, and right on the spot where De L’Europe is now standing.
When Amsterdam expanded in this year, with the addition of the strip of land between two of the oldest canals, a new embankment was needed. The Rondeel tower wasn’t needed anymore to defend the city, however the tower remained as it was for several decades.
An inn was built on the side of the old Rondeel, partially constructed on the same foundation. Owned by a Mr. Jordan, in the beginning it was just a simple inn, but business went very well because in 1652 it was enhanced on the side facing the Amstel River and a beautiful Renaissance style facade was built.
It was not until this year that the inn made it on the news again. Thanks to an article in the Amsterdam Gazette on February 21st, 1772, we know that Reynier Welters had been running the Rondeel during the previous 15 years. Because of its ruinous condition, he had to leave the inn. However, around this time some very necessary renovations took place in the building and a new façade facing the Amstel River was built as well as the interior of the property. Artist Pierre Fouquet referred to it as a “Gentlemen’s Inn of Distinction” in his 1783 Atlas.
The Rondeel proved not to be profitable and was auctioned for the sum of 21,800.- Dutch Guilders (worth €9.900 today). H.J. Wolters, the new owner, renovated the Rondeel again and it was reopened on September 28th, 1845. In the same year he appraised the hotel to “all traveling gentlemen and families”, which made him forerunner because most hotels in the Netherlands would only focus on families after 1880.
The newspapers published the news that H.J. Wolters had sold the premises to R. Kamps and A.J.D. van den Berg. Since the new owners apparently expected a great influx of clientele coming for the World Fair in Amsterdam in 1883, they renovated the façade facing the Amstel River and added an additional floor.
The construction of the new hotel started and it was re-opened on September 23rd, 1896 as Hotel de L’Europe. The architect, Mr. W. Hamer, who also designed Hotel Suisse (which has since burned down) in Kalverstraat and the pavilion in Vondelpark, succeeded in incorporating certain elements of the old style of the side facades into the new building, giving it a romantic exterior.
The building is founded on approximately 620 piles and is made of natural stone and red brick in Renaissance style. On the ground floor, the new hotel had a large hall which served as a cafe with an outdoor terrace on the river.
The new hotel had 50 rooms, a lovely dining room, the eventspace Amstelkamer, and a smaller one for intimate dinners, the Muntkamer, named after the century-old Munt Tower across the street from the hotel. It also had a special banquet hall and a reception hall, The Rondeel Room, with a beautiful view of the river. On the top floor, there were several smaller venues. With its elevator, central heating, gas and electricity, the hotel provided all the comforts of a real first-class hotel at the time, especially since it also had a bathroom and toilet on every floor.
Two new improvements were made: a covered entrance and a lobby in Nieuwe Doelenstraat. By that time, the number of rooms had increased to 70.
The restaurant Taveerne was renamed as Le Relais. The restaurant’s purpose was to meet the guests’ need for a fast, good meal, rather than a sumptuous meal at the luxurious restaurant Excelsior.
Under the management of Adriaan W. Grandia, appointed director in September, 1980, a large renovation started in the spring of 1981. The idea behind this renovation was that all the improvements would be aimed at maintaining the hotel’s classical style and exclusive atmosphere.
All 76 hotel rooms and three suites were refurnished and given colour television with remote control, telephone with direct outside line, minibar, radio and air-conditioning were all installed. The new marble bathrooms had hairdryers and a second telephone. Both restaurants (Le Relais and Excelsior), Le Bar, the three banqueting rooms and the lounge were refurbished. In addition to this, a new terrace was built around the hotel. This work was completed in 1984.
Hotel de l’Europe purchased the two adjoining buildings, numbers 6 and 8. These buildings were incorporated into the existing building between January 1986 and Spring 1988. You can still see on all the floors of the hotel that there’s an incline where buildings 4 and 6 join together.
In the new extension 35 rooms, a fitness centre, and new banqueting rooms were added.
Another renovation was initiated, lasting until Easter 1990. During this time, 26 relatively small hotel rooms were altered to create 13 beautiful larger rooms.
The hotel consisted of 100 rooms, two restaurants, a bar, a terrace along the Amstel, banqueting rooms, a fitness centre and a business centre.
Since then relatively small renovations have taken place, like the refurbishment of 40 hotel rooms, to maintain the hotel in excellent condition and to the highest standard.
1995 & 1996
The lounge was completely renovated. The hotel invested in several original 19th century paintings, that are now decorating the walls, and in one of the banqueting rooms, the Amstel I, the ceiling was painted in 19th century baroque style.
The hotel celebrated its 100th anniversary. Also in that year the hotel appeared for the first time on the Institutional Investors list, yearly composed by senior financial executives, who decide which are the best 100 hotels in the world. De L’Europe was number 90.
The hotel had risen to the 76th place. It also appeared on the list of the magazine Travel & Leisure as the only Dutch hotel in the top 25 hotels with 100 rooms or less.
The kitchen and the restaurant Le Relais were renovated. The same year the bar changed its name from Le Bar to Freddy’s, referring to the owner of the hotel, Alfred ” Freddy” Heineken.
The hotel was awarded the coveted Five Star Diamond Award by The American Academy of Hospitality Sciences, as the first and only hotel in Holland. The AAHS is the only international organisation that presents these awards once a year to the most prestigious hotels, restaurants, airlines and cruise companies, for their commitment to outstanding service and hospitality.
The opportunity to purchase 2 more neighboring buildings arose. Nieuwe Doelenstraat 10, 12 and 14 were purchased by Hotel de l’Europe on September 1st 2006. After which a large renovation would take place.
Hotel de l’Europe became the first hotel in Amsterdam to receive a Green Key Gold for its environmental friendly hospitality.
Hotel de l’Europe opened an exclusive all-suite wing, known as the Dutch Masters Wing. Replicas of Dutch Masters that hang in the nearby Rijksmuseum adorn the walls of all suites in this wing.
Hotel de l’Europe was rebranded as De L’Europe and started with a complete restoration of the main building and reopened in the spring of 2011.