The talented launch team show us around Soho House Amsterdam, our biggest opening of the summer
Reportedly the first concrete building in Amsterdam, the Bungehuis is not your typical canalside house. Built in the 1930s as a trading office, it was more recently used as a university building. Now in what European head of marketing and partnerships Umut Sengun calls its “third life”, Soho House Amsterdam is full of surprises as the team show us around just before opening their Art Deco doors.
“From the outside it’s an imposing building but inside there’s actually a lot of light,” notes general manager Philipp Estermann, who joins from The Chedi, an award-winning hotel in Switzerland. As well as the club space and rooftop pool, the House will include 79 bedrooms, a Cowshed spa and gym, and a Cecconi’s restaurant. Listed features such as the main staircase, with its striking stained-glass windows, will remain the heart of the House.
The space is a revelation for Dutch creatives, according to Keesje Heldoorn, who is working on under-27s membership. “Everything is very small here, it’s normal to live in very little square footage so it’s great to have somewhere you can go with a lot of space, where you can sit outside,” she says.
“In terms of the crowd, the plan is to have all of Amsterdam under one umbrella,” adds membership manager Kapi Alem. “We want to get the right people, whether it’s talented kids from suburbs or the founder of the Rijksmuseum. When you put those different demographics together you get these beautiful combinations and conversations.”
Assistant general manager Alex Cassano, who has previously worked at Soho Farmhouse and Soho House Berlin, is the first to bring up another key aspect of Dutch culture – cycling. He’s hoping to find a spot in the bicycle park, which will have space for 50 members’ bikes and 25 for the team. Ten stylish VanMoof bikes are also available for use by overnight guests. “It’s a local brand and the founder is a member,” Alex reveals, while taking one for a spin along the Singel canal, which adjoins the House.
The bikes have been collected by pre-opening trainee Daan. “It’s been a great learning experience working on an opening of this size. It’s challenging but when you succeed it’s twice as beautiful,” he says. His own favourite spot? Cecconi’s, on the ground floor, with its retractable roof and hanging plants.
Member relations manager Stijn Bourlet likes the “secret club” that can be found on the fifth floor next to House Kitchen. “It’s hidden behind the wooden wall and members can rent it out. The room is soundproof, with its own fireplace, windows and bar.” Having worked in the creative industries himself, he’s enjoying meeting and connecting interesting people, “from a Dutch prince to a prima ballerina”.
Lisette Boonstoppel, meanwhile, is looking outside the membership base as House Relationship Manager. Working with Umut and Kapi, she’ll be considering which private hire opportunities are a good fit for the House: “At the moment we’re looking at what we might do with some people in film and music around the Amsterdam Dance Event in October.”
Marketing and communications manager Charlene Austin thinks the space will be buzzy when it opens, with lots of walk-ins for Cecconi’s on the ground floor. “The club will be a kind of oasis in the busy centre of Amsterdam,” she says.
Everyone agrees that the rooftop is the House’s biggest selling point. Its 360-degree views of the city, which can be enjoyed from the pool or cocktail bar, are unique in Amsterdam. But the team themselves are more focused on what’s happening on the ground: ensuring that they blend into the community and add something special to the city. “We’re very excited to be bringing the building, with all its wonderful history, back into use,” says Philipp. “All hands are on deck now and it’s going to be amazing!”