Just read the September issue of nl20, which has a great feature on hotel bars in Amsterdam. Hotel bars are a nice change from brown cafes and trendy scene hang-outs. They are more quiet and less smokey; you get more space; and often there are good wines and cocktails.
nl20 felt that hotel bars in Amsterdam do not get the attention that comparable bars get in other major cities. Unjustifiably as nl20 does a good job of explaining.
The article provides a good overview of the five star hotel bars and manages to give the reader an impression of the atmosphere, specialty drinks and bar tenders.
The Okura Hotel bar on the 23rd floor is worth a visit because of its great view. I would only go to the Hilton bar on a nice summer day to sit in the terraced back yard and enjoy a long drink. And I agree with nl20 that the risk of being overcrowded by drunk or stoned tourists at the Bar Americain on Leidsekade is simply too great.
One bar that I like and that was not covered by nl20 is the Golden Tulip Apollo (formerly Le Meridien). It’s spacious and has a great view out over the water behind the hotel. The bar personnel is very professional and quickly remembers the preferences of regular guests. I like to hang out there on one of the lounge chairs, by the window, with a glass of Pinot Noir from Bourgogne.