Slightly outside Amsterdam’s historic downtown core, in an up and coming wharf neighborhood populated by tech start-ups, creative companies, and media firms, sits one of Marriott’s newest Residence Inn properties on the European continent.
Opened in April, the Residence Inn Houthavens offers an unexpected take on a wildly popular destination.
In addition to its alternative location, overlooking a bustling port filled with giant cargo ships in a recently redeveloped dockside neighborhood, each guest room at the new hotel is a stylish and thoughtfully planned mini-apartment featuring sweeping floor to ceiling windows; a small, fully-equipped kitchen and a separate sitting area and work space.
Throughout most of Europe, the idea of a hotel room including a kitchen is a novel concept, one that European travelers for decades had not fully embraced or even understood for that matter.
But the rise of Airbnb changed the European view of such accommodations, opening the door in many ways for the current march across Europe that Residence Inn has begun.
“Europe is 20 or 25 years behind the United States in the recognition that hotel rooms with kitchens are a viable concept,” said John Wagner, co-founder of Cycas Hospitality, a hotel management company that specializes in the extended-stay market. “Europe is catching up now.”
And Residence Inn is poised to capitalize on Europe’s newfound acceptance of this hospitality model.
Over the past year, the brand has opened a handful of properties in the market. In addition to Amsterdam, Residence Inn has also notably established itself in London in two distinct neighborhoods – Residence Inn London Bridge, which opened in August 2017 and more recently, Residence Inn London Kensington, which came online in July.
Additional Residence Inns have popped up in several other locations across the continent and there are also several more properties in the pipeline, as many as eight anticipated by the end of 2019.
Typically offering spacious studios, and one- and two-bedroom suites, the Residence Inns offer extended stay business travelers apartment-like, local living. And though they’re not necessarily aimed at the family traveler, Residence Inns present a compelling option for that demographic as well.
The accommodation options allow for preparing a meal in your room, enjoying separate sleeping spaces for parents and children, and offer a living room area where kids can play and families can comfortably relax after a long day of sightseeing.
All of this and the properties are often situated in a host city’s most desirable neighborhoods.
Residence Inn London Kensington
Located in the incredibly posh Kensington area, home to Kensington Palace (yes, the residence of Princes William and Harry), and not far from the legendary shopping destination Harrod’s, the 319-room Residence Inn London Kensington was an immediate success. Since opening, it has been consistently fully occupied.
The vast majority of those guests, nearly 90 percent, have been corporate travelers. But over the summer, through July and August, the property attracted a significant family demographic as well. (The property has 44 spacious two-bedroom offerings, which can be quite attractive to multi-generational travelers).
“Residence Inn by Marriott London Kensington has been one of our most highly-anticipated launches in Europe; not only is it the largest Residence Inn in Europe, but it is the third largest in the world, and a flagship property for the brand,” said John Licence, vice president Premium and Select Brands Europe at Marriott International.
In addition to the brand’s signature accommodations, the Kensington property notably features a laundry room in the basement where guests can wash clothes for free (the hotel even provides the laundry detergent gratis). There’s also complimentary breakfast every day (another Residence Inn signature offering) and there’s an exercise room, allowing guests to continue their fitness on the road.
While all of these things are standard for Residence Inns, there have been some small tweaks made to address the European sensibility and the expectations of European travelers.
“There’s a different expectation from European travelers regarding the style and feeling of the room,” continued Wagner. “They expect a certain quality of furniture, drapes, carpets – something a notch above what there is in the United States. But we still have to be true to brand, offering residential, comfortable and relaxed.”
Residence Inn London Bridge
For London visitors, the choice between the Kensington property and the London Bridge address can easily be a difficult one. The Residence Inn London Bridge has its own set of very desirable features.
In addition to its 87 chic apartment-style accommodations, the hotel is just around the corner, quite literally, from Bermondsey Street, one of the most colorful and interesting streets to explore in the London Bridge area. The street is practically a quaint village unto itself, lined with cafes, destination restaurants, and shops.
The hotel is also just a short walk away from Borough Market, an artisanal wholesale and retail food market in a location that’s been the site of trading and selling for 1,000 years, since at least the 12th century.
Royal watchers will also relish the fact that this hotel is on a street quite often used by royal vehicles transporting the queen, the princes or other high-profile individuals.
And some of the city’s most famous attractions such as Tower Bridge and St. Paul’s Cathedral are also just a short walk away.
“The main difference between this and Kensington is location,” explained Mark Gillings, area general manager, as he led a tour through the London Bridge hotel on a recent afternoon. “It’s all about location. There are independent shops and amazing restaurants just around the corner. It’s like a village here and the property echoes that feel.”
Residence Inn Houthavens
The Residence Inn Houthavens marked the brand’s debut in The Netherlands. A dual-branded hotel with Moxy, there are 60 studio and one-bedroom suites.
The property features all the hallmarks of the Residence Inn brand such as complimentary hot breakfasts, communal laundry facilities, free Wi-Fi, and a 24/7 Grab ’n Go Market in the lobby. But unlike nearly any other Residence Inn anywhere, it also has an onsite, indoor pool.
And perhaps also unlike any other Residence Inn, this property includes an onsite fine dining restaurant, Lars A’Dam, which was created by a couple that formerly worked at a Dutch Michelin Star restaurant. Just opened this month, Lars A’Dam offers an unforgettable dining experience that’s already generating buzz among foodies far and wide.
Yet what all of these properties seem to have in common is offering a stay that’s far more comfortable than your typical hotel room while also putting visitors in a truly compelling location. Like Kensington and London Bridge, the Amsterdam property offers that in spades.
“The location is a plus for us, it’s close enough to downtown Amsterdam to feel connected but far enough away to feel like you are living like a local,” said General Manager Bart Luijk.
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