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    The history of MAI Amsterdam

    01 april 2021


    Are you curious what is behind the treasure of Hotel MAI Amsterdam? Let us take you back in time and tell you about the rich history of our building and the neighborhood Chinatown.

    What’s behind the building

    The amazing building where our hotel is situated has been found in 1609 and used to serve as a train oil warehouse. Fishing for whales is something unimaginable nowadays however train oil used to be less expensive than regular oil which resultedin a city were lights filled with trains. History still shows in the gable stone which is repaired and restored.

    In 1840 Johan Bertolo Delius established himself with a glass trade at Geldersekade 20. In 1904 he built a large building on the crossing corners of Geldersekade and Elleboogsteeg, for which three historic buildings, no20 to 24, were demolished. Delius was a company trading in Glassware, medicine glass and chemical and pharmaceutical equipment. Nowadays, this area of the Geldersekade is known as Chinatown Amsterdam.

    Chinatown in Amsterdam

    The beginning of Chinatown Amsterdam starts around 1900 -1915 when Chinese farmers traveled all the way to Amsterdam. Around this time the second opium war took place in China and the situation was shimmering. Due to these circumstances, the borders were opened and traveling for Chinese farmers was possible to find better living conditions.

    In 1912, there was countless maritime traffic setting sail towards Amsterdam, which caused stay over periods in the harbour of Amsterdam to be postponed, and the amount of Chinese immigrants grew. At the Bantammerstraat, Chinese orientated houses were built to provide overnight accommodations for the Chinese Sailors. The sailors didn’t really visit the city center, so the advent was unnoticed for a long time. 

    In 1930, the great depression hit Amsterdam as well, therefore the Chinese sailors had no reason, merely business, to continue the trade between Hong Kong and Amsterdam. Due the crisis, the people from Amsterdam started noticing the Chinese people.  Out of desperation and poverty, the Chinese sailors started to sell peanut cookies in Amsterdam. This is when local residents were acquainted, and from here, Chinatown Amsterdam really started to take shape. There residencies were expanding and expanded more sections of the central district area. 

    The oldest toko in Chinatown

    In 1959, the first Toko of Amsterdam was opened by the family Dun Yong. Because of the growing Chinese residents, the growth of Chinese restaurants made sense. Toko Dun Yong was the main supplier of Chinese food, so a logic sequel was that Toko Dun Yong became the place to go.

    In 1983 Hengko Dun took over the building on the Geldersekade and used it as a storage facility. In 2001, Dun Young expanded with the first Chinese Shopping Center in The Netherlands, Shopping Center Pacifica, which was situated in the old glass trade building.

    When Dun Yong wholesaler moved to Amsterdam West, the building on the Geldersekade was vacant for several years.

    Hotel MAI Amsterdam as it is today

    In 2018 the construction of the hotel officially started! All materials for the construction where transported per boat via the canals. After 1.5 year of constructions Hotel MAI Amsterdam, part of the Vondel Hotels collection, opened its doors on the 25th of January. The boutique hotel features a dreamy combination of Asian influenced mid-century furniture and eclectic interior design, that serves as a homage to the cultural history of the property.

    Centrally located in one of the most vibrant and storytelling neighborhoods of the city, surrounded by canals and with many must-see sights around the corner like Amsterdam Central Station, Dam Square and the red-light district, MAI Amsterdam is the ideal home base for fortune-travelers from all over the world.


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