Hotel Toro transformation

A reader sent ITN a copy of a letter mailed to AMS Hotels (Parc Center, Bolling Ave. 8, 1119 Schiphol-Rizk, Netherlands) regarding a property in Amsterdam, as follows.

I write to express my deep disappointment in finding that the Toro Hotel — once on a par with the St. Simon in Paris — has been allowed in a few short years since you acquired it to decline into a “dive.” And this despite your continuing to advertise it as a 4-star hotel where the guest is “pampered” in every possible way.

To detail my experience, on May 5, 2004, a friend and I arrived at the Toro for a 5-night stay. As I entered, I noticed the steps needed sweeping. The receptionist was kind and capable. As I carried our suitcases to our room, I passed what had been a bright and welcoming white-linened breakfast room; now a funereal dark blue predominated.

In our “deluxe twin-bedded room,” a 2- to 3-foot-long crack decorated the wall behind the bed’s head and the mattresses were worn out. The once-white sheer curtains were ash gray and torn, the carpet was stained and the upholstery on the arm of the one chair in the room had a cigarette burn. The lighting in the bath was dismal. The garden outside the window was untended.

I returned to the desk. “What can we do?” I asked the receptionist. “We cannot stay here.” I was offered the key to another room to have a look. It was in worse condition: the blinds on the skylights were hanging broken, not covering the windows.

Fortunately, the Hofpark, a member of your chain a few blocks away, had a room available. No one helped us to find our way there. No one offered to carry our bags or give us a lift or walk with us though we were quite obviously senior citizens.

The Hofpark was an improvement but nothing like the Toro used to be.

Later I thought that, as bad as my experience was, it must be still worse for the former owner of the Toro to see what has happened to the hotel upon which she lavished so much love and attention and in which she took such pride.

Falkensee, Germany

ITN sent a copy of the above letter to AMS Toro Hotel (Konings­laan 64, 1075 AG, Amsterdam, Netherlands) and received the following reply.

Thank you for (sending the) letter of Mrs. Boice. Reading her letter, we can imagine her disappointment and we are very sorry to hear that her visit to Amsterdam turned out to be such a disappointing experience.

First of all, we would like to introduce ourselves, being the new owners, since October 1st, 2004, of Hotel Toro and Hotel Atlas, both former AMS Hotels.

We, Eric and Petra Toren, are the proud owners of another hotel, Hotel Toren, a 4-star Hampshire Classic Hotel at Keizersgracht 164 in the centre of Amsterdam. It being a family-run hotel (Eric’s parents started the hotel in 1968), we have upgraded it from a 2-star in 1986 to a 4-star in 1999. Every year we invest a great deal of money to maintain the beauty of our 17th-century building and our 40 classically furnished rooms. Our goal is for it to become the most beautiful 4-star hotel in Amsterdam, giving the best personal attention and service to our guests at reasonable prices.

September last we were contacted to have a look at two hotels, the 4-star AMS Hotel Toro and the 3-star AMS Hotel Atlas. Both hotels were bankrupt and left, leaving a lot of debt with suppliers. While visiting the hotels, it was obvious that they would need a major investment to maintain their classification, but first of all they needed to be cleaned thoroughly and sufficiently.

The reason why we decided to become the new owners was that we fell in love with Hotel Toro instantly because of its location at the Vondelpark and its charming appearance. Both hotels are small, individual and personal — a perfect match with Hotel Toren. Furthermore, it would be a big challenge for us to turn both hotels into extraordinary hotels where people would love to spend their time while visiting Amsterdam.

In order to achieve all our plans in a short period of time, we have asked our interior decorator to consult us and, while writing this letter, Hotel Atlas is in the process of being completely redecorated. All rooms will be furnished with colorful wallpaper, curtains and carpet and will reflect a warm atmosphere.

As of January 2005 the restyling of Hotel Toro will take place. It will become a classical and romantically styled hotel where our guests can enjoy their glass of wine at the open fireplace in the lobby. Hotel Toro will reflect a classical mansion combined with all modern facilities, such as wireless Internet in all rooms.

Last, but not least, we would like to inform you that in both hotels also the technical aspects will be taken care of. The fire alarm will be renewed as well as the central heating system.

By February 2005 we hope to have our brochures ready with the pictures of the new rooms and we will definitely send you some examples. In the meantime, please visit our website,, to get an impression of our 4-star hotel at the Keizersgracht. Our website is already linked toward Hotel Toro and Hotel Atlas, however still with the old pictures.

We sincerely hope that you will inform Mrs. Boice that we reacted on her complaint and that, if she considers visiting Amsterdam in the future again, we would love to welcome her at hotel Toro and do something special to make her stay memorable.

We hope with this letter to have assured you of the fact that the well being of our guests is our main concern.

PETRA TOREN-STACHELHAUSEN, Director, Hotel Toren, Keizersgracht 164, 1015 CZ Amsterdam, Netherlands

At press time, rates for Hotel Toro were listed as ranging from €130 single to €195 triple in high season, when doubles start at €140, and from €120 to €185 in low.