From a spectacular chrysanthemum exhibit in the chandeliered lobby, to a spray of hyacinths in each of the guestrooms, a rotating cast of local blossoms regularly steals the limelight at Hotel De L’Europe, a luxurious hotel on the banks of Amsterdam's Amstel River.
Today the world’s foremost florist—about 77% of all flower bulbs traded globally trace their origins back to the Netherlands—the low-lying nation’s connection with horticulture didn’t take off until the second half of the 16th century. Holland’s renowned tulips, seemingly as indigenous to the country as clogs and windmills, were actually Turkish imports—rumor has it the flowers initially arrived as a gift from an Ottoman sultan to a local ambassador. Tulip mania (or tulpenwindhandel in Dutch) almost instantly took hold, with the curvy but exceedingly fragile flowers featuring prominently in local festivals and still life paintings, and becoming coveted, and costly, status symbols. Shockingly, tulips were more expensive than some Dutch homes in the 17th century, fueling the world's very first economic bubble, and leading to a devastating crash in 1637.
Today, judging by the nearly one million yearly visitors that descend on Keukenhof from March through May for the ephemeral spring bloom, the tulip is still the most celebrated of Dutch posies. It is these iconic blossoms, as well as the local crocuses, daffodils, and hyacinths that inspired the De L’Europe to offer guests the opportunity to embark on a special guided excursion of Royal FloraHolland, the world’s largest flower auction.
Guests of De L'Europe have the distinct privilege of experiencing Royal FloraHolland, where nearly 30 million flowers successfully exchange hands every day.
Though similar in theory to a walk through the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, the humdrum concrete warehouse next to Schiphol International Airport may seem like an odd backdrop for one of the most dazzling feats of logistics in Europe. It is here, in an enormous bunker-like expanse about thirty minutes from central Amsterdam, where nearly 30 million flowers successfully exchange hands every day. Hotel De L’Europe’s newly unveiled tour serves as a first-of-its-kind attempt to provide guests a rare, behind-the-scenes glimpse at the origins of the elaborate arrangements that dot the classic 19th century property, an emblem of the deep-seated Dutch reverence for fresh flora.
Guests may rest assured they won’t be on their own navigating the floral labyrinth and its fleet of nearly 250,000 automated, plant-laden trolleys responsible for shuttling stems across the massive marketplace. Instead, they’ll be joined by local guide Peter Boers, founder of Flower Tours Holland, who offers a wealth of floriculture knowledge, gleaned from nearly a quarter century of experience.
Mornings with Boer begin with a crack-of-dawn look at the swift flower-sorting process, before getting front-row seats at the daily auction, a lightning-fast operation that commences at precisely 6 a.m. Here, buyers place their bids via keypad, with the final results displayed on a series of gargantuan trading room clocks. From here, Boer escorts visitors to the collection point for the flowers, a bustling hub where guests are joined by a team from Season Flowers—the visionary duo behind De L’Europe’s dreamy, confection-like displays. Next, it’s on to Season’s tony south Amsterdam boutique to take in an array of kaleidoscopic bouquets, and arrange your own should you feel inspired.
Back at the hotel for lunch after a busy morning, you will soon spy one of the enchanting bouquets fashioned by Season Flowers holding court in the regal reception and throughout the hotel, likely with a new sense of admiration for the artistry and entrepreneurialism that led these magnificent blooms into the beautiful interiors of Hotel De L’Europe.
To learn more about Hotel De L’Europe or the Royal FloraHolland experience, please contact the concierge upon making a reservation.