History of Hotel Brouwer, "Huis De Swaen"
The building in which the Hotel Brouwer is now situated was comprised of two houses before 1652. In that year, owner Roelof Swaen undertook a big restoration and combined the two houses to create one building known today as the "Huis De Swaen." Mr. Swaen was a sea-captain, adjutant to Admiral Michiel Adrianszoon de Ruijter. He made his offices downstairs, the living quarters on the first floor, and used the top three floors for storage of goods.
At the end of the nineteenth century the building was converted into a simple hotel. Sleeping areas consisted of straw bunks with curtains for dividers and a bowl and pitcher for washing. It was called the "Blue Cross", the name indicating that no alcohol was allowed to be consumed on the premises.
Mr. Brouwer, the grandfather of the present owner and cabinetmaker by trade, came to work in Amsterdam in the early 1900's. He stayed at the hotel, then run by a Mrs. Rebel. She offered to sell the building and business to him. He borrowed money from his family, took a mortgage out on the building and purchased it in 1917. He made many improvements, including building solid walls between the rooms and installing running water. Mr. Brouwer rented the corner room on the street level to a wine and liquor dealer, who later lost his license and went out of business in 1921. Mr. Brouwer's brother then took over that space and ran an expediting business out of it, receiving and sending parcel post.
The Hotel was run by the Brouwer family until 1980 when the Fire Department determined the building did not meet fire safety codes. It closed that year and remained closed for 18 years.
The present owner, Mr. Brouwer's grandson, acquired sole ownership of the building and business in 1983 and started extensive renovations in 1995 to restore it to its orignial 17th century splendor. The number of hotel rooms was reduced from 20 to 8, and all were given private bathrooms, a first in the hotel's history.
Reopened in 1998, the hotel now offers travellers a way to enjoy 17th century charm while still enjoying modern comforts.
"Those poor people at the Hilton."
--Arthur Frommer, "Europe On $5 A Day," 1968