How I visited the first Zero Energy hotel in the world, Hotel Breeze – Amsterdam

In October 2019 I got an opportunity to visit and to spend a night in one of the most interesting hotels in Amsterdam for free. It is a very innovative hotel, opened for guests in September 2019.

The Netherlands as a country has a considerable part in contributing to modern society in general, especially when it comes to energy saving, design and innovations.

Hotel Breeze is a great example of Dutch sustainable, modern design and innovation. Hotel is located in a really quiet area of the city but not too far from the center and the Amsterdam Central Station. The hotel is built on the edge of IJmeer, it is very beautiful and quiet location. The easiest way to get there is by tram line 26 from the Amsterdam Central Station by stepping out at the Lumièrestraat tram stop. Ask somebody around for directions toward the marina and hopefully you will find it (look for the black building by the bridge).

Mr. Sanen, who was a Group Operations Director back then (October 2019) at the time I had visited Hotel Breeze for the first time, said to me, that the entire hotel concept is all about sustainability and utilization of natural resources in order to maintain an ecological balance and comfort for the guests at the same time.

Hotel Breeze is the first smart high-tech hotel with a very high sustainability ambition. The hotel is a so-called zero energy building based on the Earth, Wind & Fire (EWF) concept. The combination of clever use of the natural elements of sun, wind, water and earth means that the hotel can largely provide itself with energy, heating and cooling.

The important elements of the EWF concept are the solar panels on the facade and roof, the climate cascade, the solar chimney and the power facade. The climate cascade works like a natural heat provider, so it provides cooling, humidification and cleaning of the air. 

The south facing sun chimney is a shaft in which the solar heat is harvested to heat the building and the tap water. This solar chimney also provides ventilation. The sustainable power facade with photo-voltaic cells on the facade and the roof provides green electricity. The architecture therefore displays a sleek and modern character.

Mr. Korf, who was a General Manager at the time (October 2019) was kind enough to show me around and he answered all my questions regarding this interesting sustainable, zero energy hotel concept.

He even showed me the breathtaking view from the Sky Bar that was not even open yet at the time. I really appreciate his kindness. I hope you will all have a chance to stay in this interesting hotel one day.

After my first visit in order to learn more about the EWF concept, I revisited the hotel again together with my boyfriend a week later and we spent a night there so I could have a full experience in order to write this article.

The accommodation and the breakfast was provided to me for free, but we did pay for our dinner and our drinks. At the time I was employed by the Aeon Plaza Hotels company (not in Hotel Breeze but in another hotel that belongs to the company). This company was managing the Hotel Breeze property until December 2019. Due some issues with the investors Aeon Plaza Hotels are no longer in charge of the property as I was informed. I have no clue on who is managing this hotel now, since I no longer work for them (I only know that the current General Manager Mr. Boer was Operations Manager at the time). My contract with Aeon Plaza Hotels ended in November 2019. I didn’t want to publish the article while I was still employed by the managing company, for obvious reasons. Therefore I am publishing the article now even though I visited Hotel Breeze in October 2019.

The hotel has 195 rooms, a really nice restaurant with big outdoor garden, a very small but cute gym with amazing view and modern industrial design.

The Sky Bar is located on the top floor of the building. It is quite small but very cozy. The decoration style of the bar has pleasant vibe, with a lot of colorful pillows here and there and a lot of pot plants.

They serve all kinds of drinks and snacks at the bar, with the accent on their colorful cocktails. The view from the bar balcony was stunning, but as I said for a such of big hotel that bar is quite small in my opinion.

During my first visit I had already learned the most important facts regarding the technical things and how hotel produces the energy itself thanks to the solar panels and wind during my conversation with the Operational Director and Maintenance Manager of the hotel. So, with Mr. R. Korf, the General Manager at the time we mostly talked about the design concept of the hotel. He told me that all the floors in the rooms and most of the furniture are made from recycled materials in order to maintain this sustainable concept.

The frames with the floor numbers at each floor were stuffed with the real moss. It is a bit challenging to take care of them he said, because the guests are constantly touching them to see if they are real or not, so small pieces of moss are falling down on the floor below. In my opinion they really looked amazing, even though they are giving a headache to the housekeeping staff as I understood.

The housekeeping staff is not employed by the hotel. Not only in this hotel, but in most of the hotels in Amsterdam. The housekeeping staff works for big outsource cleaning agencies. Unfortunately those kind of cleaning agencies usually have lack of staff. One big reason for this is that they rarely give permanent contracts to their workers. They keep the workers for a year and they let them go. The reason number two is that the workers are not paid very well. A lot of them are also not happy with the working conditions, therefore they often quit unable to cope with the difficult work.

The job of the room attendants in general is very difficult and demanding. I will make a separate blog post regarding this subject soon. So, in order to cover up the huge need for workers, the big cleaning agencies cooperate with other small ones by borrowing cleaning staff from them.

Therefore the hotels are facing a huge problem. Since they were usually provided with the staff that is not very well trained and professional. Hotel management is also dealing with the language barrier, due the workers from small cleaning agencies (that were usually coming from Eastern Europe) often speak only their native languages and they cannot communicate well in English or Dutch language.

We checked in the hotel around 5PM after a hard working day. We had nice and smiley welcome. The reception area is also the bar area. While we watched another couple checking in before us, I noticed that any of the info regarding the sustainable and ecological-friendly concept was not communicated to the guests. It wasn’t communicated to us either.

Of course I was aware of it, since I already had visited the hotel and talked to the management team about it. But I believe that they should tell more about it to their guests at check in. Probably a lot of the guests didn’t even know that are staying in a such of innovative and unique hotel.

The lady at the front desk asked us to wait a bit, because our room was not inspected yet, even though all the rooms should be cleaned and inspected before the check in time that is 3PM. Anyway, she gave a call to the housekeeping supervisor and asked for the room to be checked. After 10 minutes, she called the housekeeping department for the second time and she was told that our room was inspected and ready so we can check in.

We liked the hotel. Our room was small but cozy, the decor was modern and simple. But, I don’t think that this room was inspected by housekeeping supervisor at all. First of all our ”clean” room smelled like urine. Probably because the wrong cleaning product was used in the bathroom. The entire shower glass and the mirror were covered with white stripes.

Probably the limescale remover was used on the surfaces, but it was not been washed away at all. Therefore the white stripes were so visible on all the bathroom surfaces and the bathroom glass door. An awful smell of limescale product (that actually smells like urine) was all over the place.

The sad think was that the beautiful brass reading lamps by the bed were also cleaned with the same smelly limescale remover product. It was obvious that whoever cleaned that room had no idea about the proper use of the cleaning products that he or she had been given. It is so sad to see how a brand new property that someone invested millions to build it up is being destroyed day by day because the staff is not properly trained.

The housekeeping staff provided to the hotel by cleaning agencies should be very well trained regarding the product and the cleaning procedures at their own facilities before they were even sent to the hotels. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. It makes me really sad, because this hotel has amazing facilities and the prospect to become one of the best hotels in the area.

I worked as a housekeeping manager for many years and most of the time I had enormous problems with the lack of room attendants. We would spend so much time and energy to train the outsource agencies workers from scratch. Unfortunately, we were losing those workers constantly later on. They were poorly paid from their employer ”the cleaning agency”, they were very often moving on to find another better paying jobs.

A lot of people have no idea on how stressful is the hospitality field in general. In several hotels where I worked hotel management was often forced to clean the guests’ rooms due the lack of staff. It is so difficult to find good and skilled workers nowadays. It is even more difficult to keep them motivated in order to at least meet the standards and guest expectations.

Anyhow, our room was not cleaned nor inspected properly that day. We experienced even bigger surprise when my boyfriend picked up the remote control from the table. The bottom of the remote control and the table under were covered with some sticky liquid, like a jam or honey.

I communicated this to the front desk clerk later on when we came down for a dinner. The solution they gave me was to move us into another room. We didn’t want to move at the time because we just checked in and we already ordered our dinner. They didn’t offered any extra cleaning of the same room though, so we gave up.

Anyway we were there just for one night. Therefore we decided to concentrate only on the good things. Since we didn’t pay for the accommodation it was provided to me and to all of the people employed by that company for free as a voucher gift. In my opinion even though we were practically colleagues working for the same company at the time it doesn’t mean that we should not be treated as any other guests (if this was a case).

In my opinion the hotel staff in general should be trained better. From the front desk, the waitresses to housekeeping staff.

For example the waitress that was serving our dinner outside in the garden placed our knifes and forks on the dirty wooden table next to the napkins, instead of placing them on the clean napkin.

Later on at the bar we waited for the two beers that we ordered about 20 minutes to be served to us. Even though they had 4 people working at a such of small bar at the time.

The breakfast waitress the next day, did not allowed us to eat our breakfast outside in the garden, even though it was such a beautiful and sunny day. The reason was that they didn’t had enough breakfast staff to handle the garden and the restaurant at the same time, but in my opinion they had more than enough staff (they only had about 10 guests for breakfast that morning) and they should do whatever it takes to make all their guests happy and satisfied. It is their job. I was really surprised and disappointed with the service.

But regardless all of that, the food we ate at the Breeze Hotel was delicious and the restaurant environment was nicely decorated in general. They had a lot of green and their open and spotless kitchen was so bright.

Regarding the housekeeping I would also add that all the windows upstairs were covered with spiders, spiderwebs and small particles caught in it. I found this so disturbing. I don’t understand why the window was not cleaned at all from outside, since they could all be opened.

When it comes to sustainable hotel design, something I really liked and I found interesting are the glasses they use at Hotel Breeze. They were all made of recycled wine bottles.

Certain pieces of furniture are made from the plastic collected out of Amsterdam canals.

Our room had one large window with the most amazing view over the marina. The entire hotel is built on the edge of IJmeer and IJburg Pampus Marina.

I believe that this could be the most attractive location to visit and book if you are planing to attend the famous SAIL Amsterdam event, but also throughout the entire year.

The bed was very comfortable. The linen they provide is made of ecofriendly organic material. The eco-linen is biodegradable and the natural fabric made mostly from the recycled fibers. Besides the fact that it looks and feels really good, the fabric also has other advantages. This kind of linen ventilates well, which makes it a comfortable for a good night sleep. It also absorbs moisture and is quite durable.

The interesting thing I also learned from the General Manager is that those bed sheets consist of 50% recycled fibers that partly come from old sheets. Their linen partner, Blycolin, has launched this innovative product in Hotel Breeze for the first time in Europe and I believe that is going to become the most popular linen in general for the hospitality industry in Europe, since most of the hotels are going green nowadays.

It was an amazing experience to sleep in that bed, I will surely search to buy the same kind of linen for my own house.

The most interesting person I met during my stay at the hotel was definitely their very inspiring and dedicated Executive Chef Herbert van Drongelen, the leader of the Mother Earth restaurant, located in the hotel lobby. I am not sure if he is still working there since the previous managing company of the hotel is no longer in charge since December 2019.

I hope that he is still there though, because he is the one of the most amazing chefs I have ever met. Chef was truly taking pride of his healthy and tasty menu concept. For such a short time I learned a lot from this interesting man.

He explained to me that the herbs are plants praised for their scent, flavor, medicinal benefits, and many other assets. He showed me how they grow their own herbs at Hotel Breeze. He also explained to me the health benefits of each one of them and how he uses these herbs in his dishes. God, it was too much information for a such of short period of time, therefore I forgot a half of what he told me that day.

Some of these plants I saw for the first time in my life. While he guided me through the garden, he was constantly cutting small leaves from the plants and I was running behind him like a hungry goat happy to taste them all. Chef actually inspired me to create my own herb garden and it is something that I’m definitely going to get involved with very soon.

Chef Herbert van Drongelen said that since ancient times, the culinary and medical values of different herbs have been appreciated by almost every part of the world and among different cultures. He was very proud of his little garden and his herbs and plants. Chef and his team members are personally taking care of them.

One more thing that amazed me regarding the chef was his ability to manage and maintain an amazing atmosphere within his team. It is so rare nowadays to see such of harmonious and happy team in the hotel kitchen.

Chef also added that herbs in general are rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and other nutrient substances that equip the body to fight against toxins and germs. They also help in boosting our immune system.

I loved the fact that in his kitchen he only uses fresh seasonal ingredients. I told him that most of Greeks do exactly the same. His love for the fresh, healthy and seasonal ingredients kind of reminded me of my mom’s and my own cooking habits.

All what he shared with me that day about healthy eating habits was almost identical of what I described last year in my articles How to eat like Greeks do and What I teach on my cooking workshops.

While we were enjoying our dinner in the beautiful garden above the marina in front of the hotel I really admired to watch Chef Herbert going out of his open kitchen to greet all the restaurant guests personally. In my opinion the chef and his entire team were the brightest ambassadors of Breeze eco friendly and cozy concept.

Chef said to us that since the summer and autumn are blessing us with plenty of healthy and tasty fruits and vegetables, that cannot be founded in the winter time, he is preserving all the daily left overs that he did not used by pickling them or by making the home made jams.

In this way he is achieving zero waste kitchen concept. Zero waste in culinary world is a set of principles focused on waste prevention that encourages the redesign of resource life cycles so that all products are reused.

For that reason at Hotel Breeze, they don’t use plastic bottles. All the drinks were served in glass bottles, that were of course going for the recycling later on.

If all of us could follow this example this world would be a definitely better place for us and for the next generations.

All these products that chef used for creating his signature dishes he was purchasing from the local organic farms and markets and they were personally chosen by him. I found this amazing and rare nowadays where we all use to the fast way of living. In his opinion this is how all dedicated chefs who love what they do should act.

So, if you happen to be in Amsterdam or its surrounding area, and if you wish to eat and taste some real food, you should definitely visit Mother Earth restaurant located in the lobby of the beautiful Breeze Hotel. Do not hesitate to ask if their Chef Herbert is still there. If you are lucky to meet him you will be amazed with his personality.

Even though at Hotel Breeze they chose to go green, a visitor can still experience the luxury and coziness. Except one small detail that I personally did not enjoyed very much. It had to do with the shower experience.

Due to hotel saving energy concept there was a water temperature and the pressure restriction, because of their environment friendly policy. Even though I really support the save the planet movement I still like my shower water to be quite hot.

Don’t be distracted and disappointed with the construction works on the road that are going on in the area next to the hotel.

We stayed there for one night and we were not bothered by the construction works at all (regarding the noise). We did ended up with a bit dusty shoes while approaching the hotel, but it is not a big deal. Who knows, they might be over by now or by the time you decide to visit the hotel.

There were no signs outside the hotel, so it was actually a bit hard to find the entrance. I hope they managed this issue by now.

If you wish to stay at the Hotel Breeze, the first zero energy hotel in the world, please click the link on the hotel name to see the reviews, prices, room photos and availability for your desired dates.

It is a four star hotel. They are providing coffee and tea in every room.

They don’t provide slippers and bathrobes, so I would advise you to take your own with you. Even though they had some issues with the staff in my opinion I still believe that one should visit this innovative and unique hotel.

They were freshly opened at the time when I visited, hopefully things are better now regarding the staff and cleaning issues.

I stayed there in October 2019, so it is very much possible that some things had been changed.

Anyway constructive feedback exist so we could learn from our mistakes and become better in the future.

When I checked the guests reviews on the booking.com website I noticed that a lot of guests had very similar complains to mine.

I wish their current room division manager will give more attention to negative reviews on booking.com website in the future (since she usually replies only under the good reviews).

Anyway, as a guest I will give them a second chance and I would gladly revisit the hotel again to see if things are changed for better regarding service and cleanliness.

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