The building of Hotel Arena has a rich history. The Chapel, the original wooden marble stairs, the supporting beams; they all tell their own stories. Be surprised by our history!
1886 - 1944
In the year 1886, the construction of the building of the Sint Elisabeth Gesticht started and was finished in 1888. The 'Gesticht' offered a home to Catholic orphan girls, who had nowhere else to go. Here they had a safe home where nuns took great care of them. The strictly Catholic institution had the chapel as central point of the building, where the orphan girls and nuns gathered on daily basis.
Right after the official opening at the end of the 19th century, queen and regent Emma, wife of king Willem III, visited the orphanage. In 1922, she returned to the Sint Elisabeth Gesticht for the second time. Several years later, when the first World War started, the orphanage offered shelter to Belgian refugees, who stayed in the attic for several years.
1944 - 1945
During the second World War, the obstetrician department of the 'Onze Lieve Vrouwe' hospital was occupied by German Nazis, which made them move to the orphanage. Unfortunately, the German Nazis also occupied the orphanage in 1944 until the liberation in 1945.
1945 - 1969
In the period after the war, the orphanage tried to find their feet in society, now as nursing home for elderly. Oddly, the prices of housing were never changed since the twenties, which resulted in many financial problems from the fifties onward. In 1982, the financial problems became too big and the orphanage went bankrupt after more than 80 years of contribution to society.
1969 - 1982
After the original elderly home left, the building was inhabited for a while. Soon after the Amsterdam foundation of elderly homes established a new location within the building, mainly focused on elderly with dementia. However, in 1982 they moved to a new home nearby.
1982 - 1992
Consequently, the municipality decided that the building had to be used to house the homeless people called 'Dam- and Vondelparkslapers' (translated: Damsquare and Vondelpark sleepers"). They were able to rent a bed for a few guilders at the so called 'Sleep-In'.
1992 - 2002
The municipality decided that they no longer wanted to exploit the Sleep-In. Therefore, a development plan was created for the building. The plan was to create a hostel, pub, restaurant and a stage for bands. In 1992 the International Youth Center for Culture and Tourism opened its doors under the name Arena.
2002 - present
After the arrival of the new millennium, it was time for a fresh start and new thoughts. The Youth Center was being replaced by a hotel. After a long period of renovation, Hotel Arena was opened February 7th 2002. The Sint Elisabeth Gesticht was transformed into a unique and multi functional location with hotel rooms, a restaurant and a club.
In 2010, Hotel Arena received their fourth star and in 2017 a second (and even larger) renovation was completed. The entrance of the building has been replaced and is facing Oosterpark now. The renovation included a new wing with hotel rooms, a new wing with PARK Café-Restaurant and a new wing with meeting spaces. On the first of September 2017, the Grand Opening of the fully renewed Hotel Arena took place. Two months after the opening Hotel Arena received their first big award: An Entree Awards for Best Restyling.
Besides the beautiful renovated parts of the hotel, the history has always been well maintained. On the East-side of the building you will find an old chimney, which is a protected monument. With a height of about 35 meters, it is one of the few remaining high chimneys in the capital. At the front-side of the hotel (in front of our Chapel), you will find another protected monument, the 'Lourdesgrot'; an artificial cave which has been built in the early ages of the orphanage.