Good Reading : July 2004
54 goodreading Iwork for a Dutch computer company and when we have meetings at the Amsterdam office, proceedings always begin with a moment of silence for those who have been unable to secure a reservation at the Ambassade. Things can become acrimonious, especially if it appears that certain people have been favoured over others. ‘I am sleeping in the Volkspark,’ said my colleague Robert last time we met, ‘while you luxuriate in a room that is rightfully mine.’ It tur ns out Robert is at the Philosophe, another of Amsterdam’s unique hotels. But Robert is a bibliophile and bibliophiles prefer the Ambassade Hotel not only because the hotel has a tradition of being host to inter national authors, but also because it has a delightful and unusual library. The library is in a prime location by the reception desk, right near the steep staircase to the breakfast room. Anyone falling down that staircase would be deposited at its entrance.The library’s elegance and simple organisation are the result of painstaking design by Dutch carpenter-designer Eric Mertens. ‘It’s the so- called retour d’Egypte period,’ says Mr Eelco Doumar, the hotel’s manager. If so, retour d’Egypte is characterised by tidiness combined with lus - trous surfaces and serene peace and quiet, with not so much as a slowly ticking clock to inter- rupt one’s admiration of the books.The shelves are immaculately fabricated in neat dark wooden cabinets which circumnavigate the room. One of the curious facts about this library is that the shelf space appears to exactly match the dutch treat fully booked The Ambassade Hotel in Amsterdam is a book lover’s delight. MARC ELLIS shows us around its impressive library – where the books are not for borrowing.