Renovated Iconic Hotel on Amsterdam Canal is Dutch Design Masterpiece

“Every room and every corner portray hints of the past. They reflect Amsterdam’s rich past and contemporary present in an eclectic mix of finishes, designs and elements in a way that embodies Dutch elegance.”
– Jacu Strauss, Creative Director of Lore


Pulitzer Amsterdam is an iconic and historic hotel that is composed of twenty-five Golden Age canal houses and sits on the doorstep of UNESCO World Heritage Site – the Jordaan neighborhood. Designer Jacu Strauss had the opportunity to work with the hotel and complete an extensive restoration that took almost a year and a half to finish. The result is nothing short of impressive.

The Pulitzer welcomes guests in with style, with a luxurious yet comfortable lobby furnished with colourful jewel-toned seating and various antique paintings. Walking through the lobby, natural light floods the halls lining the inner-gardens. Every room in the hotel is completely unique and delicately balances the rich past of Amsterdam while tying in contemporary components. Fine details, such as a window from a canal boat or copper details, represent the history of Amsterdam and the culture of the canals.

Four breath-taking collector’s suites, inspired by characters that may have once lived along the Amsterdam canals, are also a must see. Quirky yet creative features, such as a trumpet wall or a floor-to-ceiling archway of books, add character, homeliness and charm.


We chatted with Jacu Strauss and got to know his inspiration for the hotel – and find out whether he really did sleep in all 225 rooms.

TP: Pulitzer is very sleek, yet cosy. Historical, yet contemporary. How did you work to capture both of these aspects for the hotel?
Jacu Strauss:
The renovation included 225 rooms and suites, nine meeting and event spaces, a restaurant, bar, cafe, and garden. The context and surrounding environment needed to be considered and well understood for the outcome to be convincing and authentic. The overall design concept has improved the hotel as a whole, yet at the same time highlights the unique beauty of each individual building. We have used the character and quirks existing in the buildings and have made the journey through the hotel, and through years of history, part of the unique charm of the Pulitzer. Every room and every corner portray hints of the past. They reflect Amsterdam’s rich past and contemporary present in an eclectic mix of finishes, designs and elements in a way that embodies Dutch elegance.


TP: The hotel resides right on the water of the Amsterdam canals, this feature has a part in how you designed the hotel, what are your biggest influential elements?
I lived in Amsterdam for four years and immersed myself completely. I would take every bit as an inspiration whether it would be a masters painting in the Rijksmuseum, a detail on a canal house or a boat trip through the canals. I was inspired by the rich history of the houses and the ones who may have occupied them over the past hundreds of years from the Golden Age on. It has inspired the rich character of the hotel inviting guests to explore and discover. This resulted in an electric yet elegant look, showcasing original and historic features mixed with luxurious modern-day elements- as if these were the interior that was left behind from a different era over the years.


TP: How did you choose what colours you wanted to incorporate throughout the hotels’ design, including the exterior?
The interior finishes in the Pulitzer lobby, for example, reflect the fact that those particular buildings were warehouses (wooden beams, brick, end grain flooring, brass reception desks). This is contrasted by decadent, elegant and colourful pockets of furniture and antique art.

I choose to emphasise the beauty of the individual twenty-five canal houses by highlighting the separations between the buildings. Each canal house is identified by using a different wall colour and a different carpet colour as you walk down the corridors. This way you know you are going from where one building ends to where another one begins. Before choosing which colours I wanted to use, I visited many other canal houses. I was mostly inspired by all the different colours that I came across by visiting all those homes and wandering through the canals of Amsterdam.


TP: What is your personal favourite touch within the rooms? Is there anything a guest might be surprised to see within the design of the hotel?
Located in one of the twenty-five 17th and 18th century historic canal houses, the Pulitzer Suite is a grand, decadent suite with architectural features, original ornate details and a grand view of inner tranquil garden. The interior consists of an eclectic mix of vintage and contemporary furniture, custom as well as found pieces. The striking Super King size bed has a custom wooden backboard. An original chandelier decorates the ceiling, an antique mirror of a local collector sparkles the wall and there is an antique lady’s writing desk. The customised drink setup is served from the custom-made 1920’s style drinks trolley to make you feel right at home. This generous room embodies what the Pulitzer is all about: an eclectic mix of old and new, with a hint of quirkiness and decadence like a Louis the 14th style sofa next to a Verner Panton heart chair. The centred situated grand bath tub, which is my favourite touch within the suite, is the grandeur of this romantic suite complementing with Le Labo amenities. This suite embodies Mr. Pulitzer’s ambition to unite the old and the new in perfect harmony.


TP: How did you incorporate the original marble into the hotel design?
Th original mirrored Italian marble in the Saxenburg House has always been a part of the canal house. By choosing Hague Blue on the walls the original marble really stands out. Besides this, it’s also a modern touch combined with the traditional marble – something I have incorporated throughout the design of the hotel.


TP: Tell us more about the books at Pulitzer.
A Pulitzer library can be found to the right of the entrance in the lobby. This small retreat with all the Pulitzer Prize winning books, a collection of every year since 1918, are displayed. As the history connects to this prize, it hints back to where it all began. This open room has a small sitting area with two leather wingback chairs offering a calm space from the hustle and bustle in the lobby. The books are displayed flat on a curved book shelf. The library is a celebration of the Pulitzer’s Prize. The Book Collector’s Suite is based on the Amsterdam houses with beautiful book collections and nice vintage bookstores in the city. The room is the home of a romantic book collector, an explorer and intellectual. The centrepiece of the room is the dramatic floor-to-ceiling book arch display in the bedroom with old and new books from bookstores in the Nine Streets.


TP: What was the process like of hand-picking all of the art and furniture for the hotel?
Pulitzer Amsterdam has such a wide variety of spaces reflecting different eras that it was easy to select a range of art and furniture. There was a place for everything, whether it be something antique, or modern or retro, or just plain eccentric. We browsed through many antique markets and would nearly always find something that would either fit the interior of the lobby, corridors, or one of the Collector’s Suites. Having so many different furniture pieces on display adds to the richness of the Pulitzer overall and the many unique surprises throughout the hotel.


TP: We heard that you slept in every single one of the 225 rooms in the hotel when doing the design process, is this true?
This is actually true! I couldn’t apply just one design for all of the hotel rooms because the 225 rooms are all unique in their sizing and layout.


TP: How did you feel about working on historical buildings like ones of the Pulitzer?
The elegance of Amsterdam is being underrated. I loved immersing myself in the city and become inspired for the hotel. The property itself, composing of twenty-five historic canal houses, provided a richness and inspiration for the renovation. Every canal house has its own story, and I am extremely proud that they let me bring them to life.


TP: Where is your next travel destination and any up-and-coming projects?
An upcoming project that I’m working on at the moment is the head-to-toe renovation and restyling of the Riggs Washington DC. The Riggs is situated in the former bank building of the Riggs Bank. The historic DNA of the property will be taken into account during the process of renovating the building. The hotel is set to open in the end of 2019. The reopening of Super Lyan in Amsterdam is also a big project I’m working on at the moment. Super Lyan used to be based in The Hoxton in London but will relocate to Amsterdam in April 2019.

Project name: Pulitzer Amsterdam
Location: Amsterdam, The Netherlands
(Re)Designer: Jacu Strauss
Guestrooms: 225
Site origin: 17th century


Photo: Xixi Zheng