If you ask me, the sign of a truly exceptional hotel is when you walk in and, against all the temptation of a new city waiting for you to explore, think ‘huh, I kind of just want to stay here.’
Within the walls of what was once an old psychiatric hospital, Lloyd Hotel is the sort of quirky, unique hotel that makes you think exactly that. Like a Wes Anderson set piece, it’s a space that seems to unfold more of itself the more you explore, full of intriguing details – from its elevator doors opening up to white baby cots placed against a window of green potplants, to its brightly airy, multi-storey library work spaces (multiple) perched above its cafe and restaurant, fully stocked with every Dutch design and news magazine under the sun. Imagine my surprise when I headed down the stairs to find the bathroom and stumbled upon…an entire nursery of plants blooming in the basement right opposite the doors!
The food at the restaurant matches the vibe of the hotel: clean, photogenic, with a touch of quirkiness. Like its rooms, the menu accommodates a range of budgets, from hearty sandwiches to more delicately plated brunch dishes. The cuisine is a blend of Dutch with French influences, and changes its menus every season to take full advantage of local cuisine.
My absolute favourite on Lloyd Restaurant menu was the beautifully plated Beetroot and Cheese salad*. I’m usually neutral at best about beetroots but I think I may have been converted – these were exceptionally fresh and sweet. They’re marinated in vadouvan oil, which is reminiscent of masala, that gives it an subtle spice that pairs so well with the slices of savoury, creamy fenugreek cheese, offset by the bursts of sweetness from the balsamic gel. It was one of those dishes where you would be really rewarded if you got a bit of everything in one bite because the flavours complement each other in such interesting ways.
*note that these portion sizes are slightly smaller than usual so I could taste a couple more dishes
The tenderly cooked scallop with coquille with another highlight, with the pea cream giving it a wonderful density and natural sweetness. It was topped with the textural crunch of 24 month dried iberico, a type of cured ham that complemented the dish and didn’t overwhelm the natural flavour of the scallop.
You can never go wrong either with fried suppli el telefono (traditional Italian risotto ball with mozarella), especially paired with the balsamic pearls that gave bursts of sweet acidity to tie the flavours of the figs to the dish. I was wishing I had another risotto ball though – they’re so moreish!
What sets Lloyd Hotel apart is the fact its rooms range from 1 to 5 stars and are completely different. Having received a free upgrade to the classic double room (and witnessing two other couples also get an upgrade), the first thing I noticed was the magnificent high ceiling and windows – the Dutch adore their windows and natural light and I, frankly, agree – and incredibly comfy bed.
After checking everything in, it was time to explore. Lloyd Hotel may seem slightly remote on the map initially but it’s a mere 5min walk to the nearest tram (which will take you directly into Amsterdam’s centre) and train to Amsterdam Sloterdjik and Central stations (if you’re coming from elsewhere in Europe). The hotel is also stocked with bicycles to rent which I encourage you to do.
After an afternoon of exploring Amsterdam’s canals, it was time to return to the restaurant for dinner. My favourite of the dinner menu was actually the beautifully presented polenta, with cauliflower roasted in mushroom and wild spinach, with apple blossom gruyere. There was just a touch of gruyere to the polenta, offset by the earthiness of the enoki mushrooms.
I also really enjoyed the nicely tender Atlantic cod, baked in oyster leaves that indeed gave it a subtle ocean-like saltiness and complemented by the chewiness of barley as a base. I would have liked a little more tomato relish to give the dish a touch more acidity but the star of the dish was definitely the lightly fried dish skin, the source of flavour.
I washed it down with a local Dutch beer – PaasIJ (Easter Egg) – from brewery Brouwerij ‘t IJ, located very close to Lloyd Hotel.
And finally, the vanilla panacotta with lemon curd, blood orange and a sherry jelly and gin and tonic ice cream rounded off a very filling dinner. The clean texture of the panacotta, blend of subtle acidity, creamy vanilla (with a hint of gin) and almost coffee-like sherry jelly made it a really refreshing way to end the evening and wasn’t too sweet.
I spent the rest of the evening working in the library suspended above the cafe and also reading the history and mementos built into the staircases, detailing the building’s history through the ages, as well as looking at the beautiful works of ceramics on display from a visiting Japanese artist – Lloyd Hotel regularly runs free art exhibitions, concerts and food classes in their myriad of meeting spaces and I was only sorry I wasn’t there to attend one.
I Ate My Way Through stayed as guests of Lloyd Hotel