night shot in amsterdam from our hotel

A blast from the past

The birth of the Amsterdam Canal Hotels on the Canal Belt

The Golden Age

During the Golden Age in the 17th century, Amsterdam became one of the world’s most important trading centers. Amsterdam’s population doubled from 30,000 to 60,000 in the short period between 1570 and 1600. This expansion resulted in the construction if the world famous canal ring as the population continued to grow. By 1670, there were no fewer than 220,000 people living in the city.

The Canal Ring area, consisting of 4 main canals – Singel, Herengracht, Keizersgracht and Prinsengracht – was designed to serve the wealthiest residents of Amsterdam. The underclass was excluded from the canals due to the size and the prices of the buildings there. Because the lots were expensive, and there was a ban on the construction of alleys, it was impossible for poorer residents to construct smaller buildings. This is why all the canal houses are built right next to each other.

Moreover the primary canals, Herengracht and Keizersgracht, were used exclusively for residential housing. Commercial activities were not allowed in these houses. Warehouses and business, such as beer breweries, could be found on the Prinsengracht.

Amsterdam Canal Hotel

The Amsterdam Canal Hotel was built in 1892 and is included on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Amsterdam Canal Hotel was the original hotel and a year later the dependance Amsterdam Canal Residence was added to the property. The former owner of the building was notary Jacques Zoest in 1922. He used the building as an office and later moved the office to Weteringschans 95. In the year 1929, this property was the top prize in a lottery, with a value of 32,000 Dutch Guilders.

Amsterdam Canal Hotel overlooks the ‘Lijnbaansgracht’. This canal is named after the craft profession of rope-making. The rope-makers performed their work in a line on a track (Lijnbaan). They needed a lot of space to perform their work and since the canal wasn’t a canal at this time; this location was conveniently located close to the town. At the end of the 19th century, this particular craftmanship became an extinct profession.

Around 1612 the Lijnbaansgracht was constructed. This was around the same time that the famous canal belt was dug during the Dutch Golden Age.

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Grand Canal Boutique hotel

The Grand Canal Boutique Hotel was built during the Dutch Golden Age in 1626 and is included on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The building belonged to a former merchant. In 1742, the rent for the building was estimated at around 685 Dutch guilders (€ 200). Six years later, in 1748, the original owner offered the building to a women's orphanage. The owner had only one condition; it needed to be renovated. The women's orphanage restored the building to its original state.

In 1909, the two buildings combined (Keizersgracht 302-304). In 2009, when the building was renovated, some of the original architectural features - like the beautifully detailed, painted beams - were discovered from the time when the building was first constructed in the 1620s.

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Amsterdam Canal Suites

The monumental Canal House at the ‘Keizersgracht’, or Emperors’ Canal, was built during the Golden Age in 1672. The canal was named after Emperor Maximilian of Austria. The three canals became icons of urban planning and architecture and have been added to the UNESCO World Heritage List. Famous painters, poets, merchants and many other prominent personalities found their refuge at the Keizersgracht, including America’s second president John Adams.

The designs of the residents and warehouses were entirely left to the taste of its wealthy builders. This resulted in the great architectural diversity that characterizes the canals. Canal Suites is a series of houses designed by master carpenter Samuel van der Hagen in 1672. Its first resident, Claas Carelsz de Roy, bought the entire building in the same year for 5500 Dutch Guilders.

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