Hilton Amsterdam Airport Schiphol

by Continental Club on May 1, 2009

The planning of this whole escapade was, of course, executed under the darkening clouds of the developing global financial crisis. Natural concerns about the likelihood of airlines continuing to operate booked services, or indeed to survive at all were however, every now and again, overshadowed by some frankly remarkable examples of inexplicably high demand, or lunatic revenue management.

Such was the case with the booking of the one-night stopover at Schiphol, and the dawning realisation that the 12 hours spent in a concrete box at the end of the runway would, if we were not careful, end up costing more than any other accommodations on the entire trip.

So it was that our first choice, the Sheraton Schiphol, was pricing up at Eu220 even on a special rate. Add tax and the need for two rooms, and swallowing was becoming difficult. The Hilton was marginally cheaper but, crucially, offered HHonors redemption availability, so one room at Eu180 and one at 40,000 HHonors points were booked instead, slashing the cost at a stroke.

Things didn’t get off to a great start however.

If you’ve travelled with me before, you’ll have met MCC and FCCMotherContinentalclub and FatherContinentalclub respectively – already, and you’ll know their fears and foibles.

Let me introduce you now to the newest (in a rather antiquarian way) member of the travelling tribe: GrandfatherContinentalclub. Master of the tall story and veteran of pre-war Buenos Aires, widower of the nurse who cared for the first German fighter pilots to be shot down over Blighty and all-round dodderer of the deafest order, you’ll be less than surprised to learn that I propose referring to him in future as GCC.

Calls to the World’s airlines had heralded the boarding of his every flight, as perambulatory assistance was requested and required. BAA’s contractors at Heathrow had responded to the cry for castors with remarkable élan, but things rapidly went the way of a Tesco trolley at Schiphol. First problem is that the airport hadn’t sent a chair to meet us.

Luckily, a pusher with an empty one was passing and we hijacked that; sadly however, and despite the fact that her job description would appear reasonably singular, she wasn’t all that keen on pushing at all. So, at the first opportunity, we were abandoned at baggage reclaim, with the compensation that she said it would be OK to keep the chariot overnight as we were staying on the airport site, and return with it in the morning for the onward connection. Fair dos, I guess.

So, out we pop into Schiphol and take a little time to locate the direction of the hotel. Round the back of the florist, past the railway station, up a lift and along the walkway. Sounds straightforward. We pass the bustling café of the cancelled-Sheraton after a short walk, with the corridor stretching out ahead of us. We keep walking. And walking. And walking. I swear that I’ve been on shorter ventures with a backpack and survival supplies. Eventually, when there is no more walkway left, we see the Hilton, which has conveniently been built 100 metres from the end of the World’s Longest Building. We back into the World’s Longest Building’s next superlative amenity – the World’s Grottiest Lift, and clank a floor down and out into the rain.

Soaked from above, wheel-splattered from below and in understandably poor humour, we rock up to the Hilton lobby to at least find that one of the rooms has been upgraded in recognition of my Gold HHonors membership: to the ‘Club Floor’ whose lounge has already closed and will be of scant use the following morning when the Singapore Airlines iteration will beckon.

The rooms are, helpfully, clean and not too cramped; a room-service Hilton Burger proves that this particular menu staple is bland the World-over and the broadband doesn’t work. We got a free postcard though, so not bad for Eu180 plus tax, room only. Thoughts of Sofitel induce tearful sleep, before the sound of the following morning’s lashing rain wakes us dispiritingly.

Final Verdict for the Hilton Amsterdam Airport Schiphol: 6.0/10. Overpriced, uninviting, a poorly-signed trek from the terminal building and not exactly ‘linked’ to it as the hotel would have you believe, the Hilton is at least clean and functional, but it can only be demand and lack of alternative that can justify their rates.


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