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JC Stays: Hyatt Regency, Amsterdam

Go east for the newly opened hotel in Amsterdam's greenest quarter

Choosing a relatively modern former hospital for a new high-end Amsterdam hotel rather than a grand 17th century canal house might not seem an obvious decision but the clue is in the neighbourhood - the hip eastern quarter.

With direct Eurostar service soon to make the Netherlands’ most enticing city as popular a weekend destination as Paris, the city’s residential neighbourhoods are presenting a tempting alternative to the more crowded central canal belt.

And the charm of East Amsterdam, a Jewish quarter in centuries past, is in its great green attraction, the Botanical Gardens.

Tinier than Kew, this little urban oasis nevertheless packs a punch with its glasshouses for exotic plants - the cactus collection is one of the finest in the world - and a butterfly house with equally brightly coloured inhabitants and foliage.

Green is also the keynote of the new Hyatt Regency, adapted from said former hospital building, whose own standout feature is a quite fabulous living wall dominating the lobby.

Many of the 211 rooms are decorated with huge floral motifs, often overlooking one of the city’s outlying canals. And while they’re not huge, there are rainfall showers in the compact bathrooms and all bedrooms have a decent workspace.

The feeling is deliberately cool, modern and minimal.

Décor in the restaurant, Mama Makan, echoes this theme too with the delicious, egg, rice and peanut-heavy Indonesian cuisine once seen all over Amsterdam in the days of the East Indian colonies but now more of a rarity within hotels. These days, the city’s Jewish community – and kosher restaurants – have moved south.

The Asian theme makes a neat link to the nearby Tropenmuseum too, full of artefacts from the former Dutch colonies displayed in a handsome colonial building.

Or borrow one of the guest bikes to head to the banks of the Amstel, dividing the city centre from its eastern suburb to find the world-class Amsterdam outpost of the Hermitage, alongside the Jewish Historical Museum and 17th century Portuguese synagogue.

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