Jan Mulder

Jan Mulder (b.1945) was a professional footballer
with Ajax and Anderlecht. He has focused on journalism
since 1975. He has written short stories and
reportage, including for the publications de Volkskrant,
Elsevier and Humo. In addition, he was a
regular columnist for years at the newspaper
de Volkskrant,
forming the partnership Camu
with the poet Remco Campert.


The Arts’ Hotel

A beautiful, old building, situated on a canal. A fine lobby, and then you walk inside stories. Here, anecdotes were born, famous gossip spread, quarrels and reconciliations written about.

I take the lift to the first floor. A passage. My room is at the end of the passage. I don’t make it down, although it should be physically possible: I can still walk all right, and the space between the walls is more than a metre wide, while I’m only about sixty centimetres.

Halfway down, my legs won’t go on: my eyes catch behind a painting. Works by the artist Theo Wolvecamp are hung on both walls. I’ve seen these for decades now, and not once have I walked past without feeling moved. A beautiful unknown woman who lures me to her room through a chink in the door, the tiredness that overwhelms me after hard work, an American couple asking the way to the Rijksmuseum: maybe I want to, but it all escapes me, I’ve disappeared into painted wrapping paper.

What many owners don’t appreciate is the value of art in the attractiveness of their hotel. What you generally come across is what you see in the dentist’s waiting room. Good paintings give a hotel allure, ahem, an identity. A fine subsidiary value of an arts’ hotel is the writers who like to be interviewed there. They have taste and they feel at home in an arts’hotel.

The predicate writers’ hotel appeals more to the imagination than arts’ hotel does. For inexplicable reasons, my arts’ hotel is also fonder of writers (sensitive types) than painters (rough hunks) with their salacious followers. Mostly, you get two for the price of one though. If there’s good art on the walls, there’ll be writers in the guestbook. We can read their signed books in the library annex-bar. The bartender could write a great book about the endlessly arriving and departing art folk, but he hasn’t yet. To conclude, I’ll add an anecdote about my hotel.

A few years ago, while I was checking in, a young man was dragging two heavy suitcases out of the lift. I knew him from his political commentaries on the television programme The World Keeps Turning. ‘Hey, Sywert.’ To be able to earn a little extra on the side,

Het predicaat schrijvershotel spreekt meer tot de verbeelding dan kunsthotel. Om onnaspeurbare redenen is mijn kunsthotel zelf ook meer gesteld op schrijvers (fijnzinnige types) dan op schilders (ruwe binken) met hun wulpse aanhang. Meestal krijg je de twee voor één prijs. Is er sprake van goede kunst aan de muur, staan er schrijvers in het gastenboek. Hun gesigneerde werken kunnen we in de bibliotheek annex bar lezen. De barkeeper zou een mooi boek over het eeuwig komende en vertrekkende kunstvolk kunnen schrijven, hij deed dat nog niet. Tot slot zou ik een anekdote aan mijn hotel willen toevoegen.

Enkele jaren geleden, ik was aan het inchecken, sleurde een jongeman twee zware koffers uit de lift. Ik kende hem van zijn politieke commentaren in het televisieprogramma De Wereld Draait Door. “Hé, Sywert.” Om wat bij te verdienen, werkte hij in het schrijvershotel als manusje-van-alles. Achter Sywert stonden de gasten die naar Schiphol moesten, hij groette me snel, en met zijn laatste krachten tilde hij hun koffers in de achterbak van de taxi, haastte zich daarna naar een enorme zak met vuil beddengoed. Ik bewonderde hem.

View the column on the website of ‘Het Parool’.

What is a writers’ hotel without writers? A pen without ink? For a period of six months in 2021, one author a week was invited to stay at the Ambassade Hotel and describe their writing lives at that time. Throughout the period May to November 2021, the newspaper Het Parool published the Writers’ Hotel columns in its weekly Arts Section.

Read more about this column project in collaboration with ‘Het Parool’.

Would you like to stay at the writers’ hotel as well? Enjoy a unique experience in the Ambassade Hotel with these special offer packages or come and admire the library after visiting our sunny terrace on the Herengracht!