It is a fantasy that every Dutchman must have had at one point in their lives. I know I’ve had it and I’m sure you have it, too. And if you’ve never been to the Netherlands, hang in there…it will all become clear to you in a few sentences. The hypothetical question all Dutchies fantasize about is this: What would it be like to spend the night in one of those tiny bridge-controller houses you see all over the country? Well, I finally got the answer – and I’m dying to tell you all about it. You see, I stayed at the SWEETS Hotel Amsterdam, a luxurious yet affordable hotel that consists of about a dozen converted bridge-controller houses across the Dutch capital.
My home for the night – definitely an adventure!
Before I share my story, however, allow me to explain how this one of a kind project came about. I guess I would have to start in 2014, when the city of Amsterdam embarked on a project to automate and centralize the operation of sixty of its bridges. One dilemma remained, however. What would the city do with all those iconic bridge-controller houses that were now obsolete? A team consisting of architecture office Space&Matter, project development partner Grayfield and the founders of the Lloyd Hotel & Cultural Embassy provided the answer. A total of twenty-eight houses would be converted into luxury hotel suites that allow guests to experience the city in an exciting new way.
The sitting area contains everything you need: two chairs and a table. I found out the bridge control panel was still in tact – didn’t work though! 😉
The SWEETS Hotel Amsterdam asked me to spend a night in their bridge-controller house on Westerdoksbrug and share my thoughts with you. Needless to say, I readily complied and raced there as fast as my legs could carry me. And let me assure you – that’s pretty darn fast because I’ve been working out like crazy this summer. But that’s another story. If you arrive in Amsterdam by train, you can see the Westerdoksbrug on the bank of the river IJ right before you pull into Centraal Station. I’ve must have passed it a million times without ever noticing it. I mean, let’s face it – from the outside, my home for the night looked unassuming at best. Its base was clad with concrete tiles, the one material that just screams Fifties Dutch architecture. You either love, or you hate it. The inside was a different story, though. I walked up to the front door and unlocked it using the app I had downloaded on my phone for the occasion. Befuddled passersby looked at me as they crossed the bridge. Who is this handsome stranger and why the hell is he entering this bridge house? I decided to just ignore them as I closed the door behind me.
The kitchenette was just right.
I walked up the tiny building’s spiral staircase not knowing quite what to expect. Of course, being the influencer that I am, I just had to share the moment I walked into my suite on Instagram Stories. Once that perfunctory job was over and with (hurray), I could sit down and take it all in. The eye of the mind makes a movie. The interior design of my suite was tasteful, luxurious but not garish – just what you would expect. If there was one thing that struck me, is how light and open my suite was. More than three quarters of my suite consisted of a uninterrupted row of windows that allowed for the perfect view of the IJ river and the bridge that separated it from Amsterdam’s canals. One hotel room staple was notoriously missing. No TV! But who cared? With a view like that, there was more than enough to take in. And what a weird and wonderful experience to watch all the pedestrians, cyclists and cars whisk by right below me.
Buyer’s remorse! My own bathroom has navy blue tiles, but these pink tiles in my bathroom at the SWEETS Hotel looked soooo much better.
Since it was way too early to go to bed even by my standards, I thought it would be nice to go for a leisurely evening stroll. Before I headed out, I decided to freshen up a bit in my bathroom, which was situated all the way in the basement of my bridge-controller house. The soft pink tiles more than made up for its somewhat out of the way location. Now, where to next? Why, Haarlemmerstraat of course! On my way there, I explored some new territory. Well, new to me at least. I walked underneath the train tracks, only to discover a lone 1978 Mercury Grand Marquis parked by the side of the road. “What do you think?” I heard a man say behind me. “It’s stunning”, I replied. And before I knew it, I had struck up a conversation with the car’s proud owner. What an unexpected experience!
I discovered some unusual spots in Amsterdam – and struck up a conversation with the owner of this vintage car.
After that, I spent a good hour walking around Amsterdam’s city center and ended up on the terrace of Café Luxembourg. After all, if there is one thing I love it is to contemplate life over a glass of wine as I watch the world go by. But why stay outside when I could do exactly that from the comfort of my own bridge-controller house? I picked up a bottle of Pinot Grigio on my way back and arrived at my Westerdoksbrug suite just before nightfall. And you know how true happiness always feels like a fleeting moment? Well, let me tell you I had one of those moments when I sat down, turned up the A/C full blast and watched the sun set over the sweltering city. After that, I closed the curtains and fell asleep in the middle of a very comfortable king-size bed. Because that’s how I roll.
Life doesn’t get any better than enjoying the golden hour from the comfort of an air-conditioned bridge controller house on Amsterdam’s river IJ.
SWEETS HOTEL AMSTERDAM – THE PRACTICALITIES
So, are you ready to book your own bridge-controller house at the Sweest Hotel? Not so fast! Because there are some tiny practicalities to consider. First, be prepared for some nighttime noise. After all, you’re sleeping on top of a city bridge and things stay hectic throughout the night. But so what? You’re in Amsterdam! Besides, if you’re a light sleeper you can always use a pair of complimentary earplugs. Didn’t need them myself, but there you have it. And at least you’re not sleeping under the bridge!
Didn’t need the earplugs – but it was a comforting thought they were there!
Also, if you want to have breakfast in bed, make sure to book it in advance. I got some groceries instead and had a lovely sandwich with cheese that I kept overnight in fridge in the kitchenette. Got kids? You’ll either have to leave them home or tie them to a tree, because children are not allowed at the Suits Hotel. And if you want to store your luggage after you check out, the nice people at SWEETS can arrange just that. tl;dr… this is not just any hotel, so be sure to check out all the FAQ’s.
The SWEETS Hotel opened earlier this year and it is a runaway success with experienced travelers who are in for something new but don’t want to skimp on the luxury. You can choose from about a dozen bridge houses across Amsterdam, with more to open soon. If you’re spending more than one night in Amsterdam, I highly recommend staying at a different bridge house every night. It will introduce you to parts of the cities you’d never discover on your own.