Hotel the Exchange – Amsterdam’s new creative nest

Left side is the OPTIONS! design store from Hotel the Exchange.

Lloyd hotel’s second endeavor, Hotel the Exchange, has recently opened its door in the center of Amsterdam. It’s literally located in the center that is notorious for its touristic café, snack bars, restaurants and souvenir shops. Many locals tend to avoid this hasty & noisy tourists’ spot, though it does have very special charm of quirkiness. Besides those low-profile hotels, there are many hidden surprises such as rooftop sauna, introverted restaurants (without street entrance) and many abandoned-, vacant- upper floor spaces waiting for the future to come.

In the past, there have been many attempts trying to intervene this area or to activate these vacant floors, but the long-term procedure (resulted from the urban legislation, the monumental law and etc.) has discouraged many initiatives. So how did Lloyd Hotel make Hotel the Exchange happen within half an year?

The first Lloyd Hotel is transformed from a former emigrant hotel, successfully creating a new cultural spot by mixing a design hotel with event spaces. Then Lloyd has launched a temporary hotel in Tokyo – Llove Hotel. After these challenges, Lloyd Hotel’s next ambition is to be the cultural catalyst for not only a marginal neighborhood and abroad, but also for the center of Amsterdam. So they acquired the second property without any hesitation when those 3 buildings on Damrak became available.

A snapshot from google map showing the former Damrak hotel and the building front were covered by signs and winter gardens.

The facade of the 3 buildings are refreshed by Hotel the Exchange, with higher ground floor spaces.

It seems impossible to connect 3 historical buildings into one (which is in conflict with the monumental law), but the possibility has been quitely created by the history. First of all, these 3 different-looking buildings, have actually already been connected by the former owner to create 2 hotels. This explains why Hotel the Exchange could be undertaken within a rather short period of time – without going through the process of negotiating with the monumental law and of changing the destination of use (e.g. from ‘housing’ to ‘hotel’). Another possibility created by the history is the entrance hallway – a ‘shaft of light’ that allows daylight to fall into this narrow corridor next to a snack bar. Tracing back to the historical drawings, it has been found out that there used to be an alleyway in the 17th century, which has been ‘swallowed’ by the building later. So eventually the city is happy to see the alleyway brought back by Hotel the Exchange.

Entrance is next to a snack bar.

In the light shaft looking towards the entrance - this was used to be an alleyway before.

Hotel the Exchange has created 61 rooms, café STOCK and one design store OPTIONS! all within 3 small building blocks. The arrangement of the rooms were mostly adapted from the 2 former hotels, though the interior has become more ‘porous’ by removing some rooms and creating internal windows. Other than most of the low-budget hotels that tend to block the views towards outside, Hotel the Exchange has revealed the views to Damrak as well as to the inner courtyard. Both views exposed more chaos rather than romance of the city, but have allowed spectators to reality-check the center of Amsterdam, which has been decaying and is now asking for more attentions and creative solutions to re-generate.

Hotel the Exchange has brought back the double height ground floor space in order to create Stock café.

Inside the OPTIONS! design store.

So will Hotel the Exchange be the catalyst for change for Amsterdam’s center? And how? It is clear that they are spreading slowly the spider web in this area…we will not have to wait for too long to hear Lloyd’s next surprises!

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I’ve like to thank Lloyd Hotel who shared their experiences and offered me a great guided tour through their buildings. Above story is based on the interview with Suzanne Oxenaar, who together with Otto Nan have initiated Lloyd Hotel, Llove Hotel & Hotel the Exchange.

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