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One of the skills that I learned early on in life is to enjoy upscale, decadent, posh places… on a budget :)

Stopping in for a cup of coffee is a great way to find out if the place REALLY lives up to the reputation and the hype, if the service is good, and if is worth saving up for. In my college study days, that saved me lots of $$, and the habit has never left me.

College Hotel, Amsterdam

So today I decided to pay tribute to those college days with a cup of coffee at the College Hotel (Amsterdam.) I have walked, biked, tram-ed past there numerous times. At first I just admired the building, then I became curious. During hours of insomnia last night, I finally googled it. And today, as a way to capture a rare sunshine day in Amsterdam’s version of the fall, I went.

The idea behind the College Hotel is simple – take an old school building that dates from the mid-nineteenth century, and convert it to a hotel. Then add the detail of staffing it with students from a local hotel school. In other words, focus on learning customer service, attention to detail. In a posh setting. (The hotelier granddaughter and daughter in me wishes that I could ‘study’ there!)

Lush Interior of College Hotel

The result with the College Hotel – a new addition to my fav list for things to do and places to see in Amsterdam! The atmosphere is elegant and posh without being stuffy and overdone. Paintings in gilt frames are teamed with plush fabrics and very comfy chairs. Cool tones and colors are mixed with modern minimalist use of glass and greenery and sculptures made out of things that look like wagon wheels. Smiling staff all dressed in black, excellent service, and attention to small details.

My ‘simple’ cup of coffee was served in white-blue delft-like china and was accompanied with silver milk and sugar servers. It made me sad that I don’t take milk or sugar in my coffee! I wanted to scoop something out of that delicate sugar pot! I watched other guests sipping frothy champagne or eat golden crisp frites or intricate salads – all with smiles and laughter. Happy guests. (Although I wish that my coffee came with a cookie!)

College Hotel, Interior Courtyard

I sat on their terrace – billed as one of the sunniest spots in Amsterdam and nicely separated from the street by an ancient wall – drank my coffee, read my book, watched people of all types and backgrounds and origins come outside and pick a spot to turn their faces sunward. It wasn’t crowded (so don’t spill the secret!) and it wasn’t rushed.

A perfect place to sip a cup of coffee on a sunny fall Saturday afternoon.

(I peeked into the dining room too – towering iron candelabra and white tablecloths and shiny crystal wine glasses. Definitely coming back here to for a meal… )