The History of Canal House Amsterdam

Our Story

Canal House is a typical example of 17th Century Dutch architecture. Now a 'monumented' site, the building features intricate original features, carving and scrollwork as well as typically stately proportions, all signs of wealth in years gone by.

17th Century Amsterdam

Due to the limited space and desire to maintain a level of equality, the houses were rarely more than 30ft wide (9 metres) and characterised by large, narrow windows and decorative gable tops. Very narrow stairs maximised space in the buildings, however this made moving furniture and goods difficult. Pulleys were used both inside and outside the buildings to transport larger objects to the upper floors. Canal House is still rich with these features – some of which were actively used during the restoration.

The Unique Scale of Canal House

Canal House is extremely unusual in its scale and size. The Great Room which links the buildings together was designed for impressive entertainment. The triple width garden, likewise, is an extremely rare feature in Amsterdam. Canal House also has a distinctive horse-shoe shape, enveloping a small house on each side, though this was not intentional. A previous owner installed his mistress in this part of the building which is why it is now missing.

The Start of Life as a Hotel

Our buildings, numbers 148 and 152 were the home to several merchants and their businesses in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, before being turned into a hotel in the 1950s, by an eccentric and flamboyant American hotelier who was an avid collector of Dutch art and knick-knacks which were proudly displayed on walls, shelves and every other flat surface in the buildings in a traditional Dutch fashion. Many of these have been retained and re-used, providing continuity to the buildings that have stood on this spot for four hundred years.

St. Donatus

Outside the entrance, you will see the name of St. Donatus, to whom the buildings were dedicated when they were built. He is the saint who guards against lightning, his cult is also linked with protecting the grape harvest.