Amsterdam, place to be
In recent years, Amsterdam has grown from a charming little town to an undeniable place-to-be. And with reason. There’s so much going on in the Dutch capital that you are bound to be lured in by one of the city’s attractions. Take the food scene for instance. The Dutch may not be well-known for their traditional Dutch dishes, but Dutch chefs have been stunning food critics these last couple of years with interesting food concepts. There’s the cultural side to the city of course. From a rich history of painters like Rembrandt and Van Gogh and art masters, the city breathes art. And then there’s the stunning cityscape. The city is without a doubt, highly instagrammable, and the laid-back vibe is unlike any other city in Europe. This is a curated guide to luxury, decadence and culture in our cosy hometown Amsterdam.
Home away from home
Amsterdam is home to many hotels. From budget to mid-range to ultimate luxurious hotels. Over the last few years, there has been quite some changes in the hotel market. From new hip and modern boutique hotels to renovations of five-star hotel chains. Hotels are competing with international standards of the luxury travel industry, which is certainly a good thing for travellers. Here’s our recommendation for the top luxury hotels in Amsterdam, based on price, location, design and service.
The Conservatorium Hotel is one of the city’s most stunning hotels, design-wise. Located in a former conservatory, this hotel exudes luxury and opulence in a modern style. The architectural structure of the building makes this a unique hotel to stay in. The hotel is located on Museumplein, making this the perfect hotel for art lovers. Slip out of the hotel for a quick visit to the Van Gogh Museum and get back to Tunes Bar for an afternoon gin & tonic cocktail and make reservations for dinner at the amazing Asian-oriented restaurant Taiko. Pamper yourself after dinner with a relaxing massage and swim in their Akasha spa.
The Pulitzer Hotel is located on the canals. You’ll be wowed by the gorgeous wooden floors, plush velvet chairs, marbled tables and golden details. The hotel was designed to maintain its historical architecture and to create a stylish and contemporary atmosphere at the same time. After a day wandering around in the city center, head back to the hotel for a cocktail at the swanky Pulitzer Bar.
Another hotel on the canals is the Waldorf Astoria Hotel. The hotel is a slightly more classic hotel compared to the previous two but with an equally elegant interior design. One of the must-visits at the Waldorf Astoria, is the two-Michelin star restaurant Librije’s Zusje. Enjoy an afternoon tea in Peacock Alley and head down to the Guerlain Spa for an afternoon of relaxation.
On the itinerary
There’s so much to see and do in Amsterdam because the city has so much to offer in terms of art, culture and other sightseeing spots. But here’s what we recommend visiting – for both short and long visits in the city.
For classic art, you cannot miss the Rijksmuseum. The museum is home to national treasures from masters like Rembrandt (the Night Watch) and Vermeer. You’re going to want to reserve a large portion of the day if you really want to explore all of the museum. The Van Gogh Museum is located within walking distance and is a must-see. Try to go early to avoid long queues. Visit the Stedelijk Museum afterwards for contemporary art. All three museums are located on Museumplein, so you can visit all in one day if you want. We also recommend FOAM, a photo gallery with great exhibitions.
You cannot miss out on biking in Amsterdam. It may not seem safe, but here cars yield for bikers. It’s also one of the local things to do in the city. Then there’s touring the canals. Which is a challenge if you don’t want to go with one of the commercial boat lines. But you can easily rent a boat for EUR 100 for a couple of hours and navigate your way through the city canals. If the weather is particularly good, go out for a walk in one of the many parks in Amsterdam. Parks like Vondelpark or Amstelpark are great for running or just a quick stroll. End your night with a visit to the Concertgebouw Amsterdam. On the agenda is a great mix of classical and contemporary concerts.
Amsterdam’s food scene has changed so much in the past few years. We’re covering three of our favorite restaurants below. But on your itinerary should definitely be a small tasting of some Dutch traditional items. Visit a local market and look for herring carts that serve the ‘Hollandse Nieuwe’ herring fish (raw) with pickles and onions or waffle carts that serve warm and gooey ‘stroopwafels’.
Across the water
If you find yourself having a spare afternoon or day, we recommend crossing the water to the Northern part of the city to visit two attractions that have been a favorite among locals and tourists the last few years. The EYE Film Museum, a movie theatre and film museum, and the A’dam Tower. The latter has restaurants with possibly the best views of Amsterdam. During weekends, head up to the bar for drinks and music. And if you’re up for it, head up to the roof and try the ‘Over the edge’ swing.
Amsterdam has a new restaurant opening more than once every week. The food scene is booming and locals are eating out more often than ever.
Local favorites are restaurants like Jacobsz, Rijsel, Daalder, Scheepskameel and Breda – restaurants with young chefs who have an innovative vision and are serving stunning dishes. These are the restaurants that are frequented most by the young crowd, but are also attracting many food critics for their daring combinations, laid-back atmosphere and affordable prices.
For a luxurious ambience, restaurants like Taiko, Izakaya and Moon are favorites. Restaurants where you can experience decadence, enjoy beautiful dishes and at Moon, even a stunning, rotating view of Amsterdam.
As for Michelin stars, there’s surely no lack of it here. It’s hard to narrow down to a list of three you have to visit, but here are the restaurants where we’ve enjoyed some of the most memorable dishes. Restaurant Rijks is a one-Michelin star restaurant where executive chef Joris Bijdendijk continues to wow food critics with stunning dishes. Restaurant The White Room recently earned its first Michelin star. The restaurant is located in Hotel Krasnapolsky and is known for its elegant and refined dishes from chef Arturo Dalhuisen. And then there’s the two-Michelin star Librije’s Zusje – the restaurant that earned two stars within its first year of opening. Executive chef Sydney Schutte creates food that can almost be described as art. But wildly impressing you with flavor, finesse and artistry.
Pastries & sweets
If you have a sweet tooth, Amsterdam locals are particularly in love with patisseries Holtkamp, Huize van Wely and Arnold Cornelis. All patisseries are family owned and have been local favorites for decades. Another staple in the city is bakery Van der Linde – their whipped cream ice cream is one of the creamiest ice cream in town.
If you want to reserve a couple of days for shopping, there’s a couple of shopping streets in Amsterdam where you can find a good mix of high-end brands as well as fast fashion or artsy concept stores. Shopping in the Kalverstraat is where you’ll find large chains like Zara, River Island and H&M. A little further down the road is Leidsestraat and ‘de 9 Straatjes’, where you’ll find stores like Shoebaloo (designer shoes), Hugo Boss and a variety of independent (concept) stores. Head over to P.C. Hoofdstraat for ultimate luxury brands like Chanel, Louis Vuitton and Tiffany & Co. Don’t fancy walking around that much? Department store De Bijenkorf offers a great selection of luxury
The Pelican Studio is a store located in the city center with a curated collection of Scandinavian and other contemporary brands. Find a selection of ETQ here, Won Hundred and Anecdote.
De Bijenkorf is a luxury department store that was taken over by the Selfridges Group a couple of years ago. Ever since, the store has expanded their brand selection to high-end brands like Gucci, Chloé and Cartier. Shop the latest ready-to-wear collections here and get your designer bag, shoes and jewelry all in one place.
X Bank is located in the W Hotel and is a store that aims to highlight Dutch art and fashion. The store is definitely a must-see if you’re into art, design and fashion. Shop iconic items from Dutch designers like Bas Kosters and Claes Iversen.
Getting around in Amsterdam is easy. Most attractions are within walking or biking distance from each other. And it’s even more convenient if you’re staying in a hotel in the city center. But public transportation is overall pretty good in the city. You can get anywhere by metro, tram or bus with day tickets (which are fairly cheap) and even head out of the city by train to visit other attractions. For non-locals, the I Amsterdam City Card can be convenient as well. It’s a tourist pass that lets you travel by public transport and gives you access to some of the city’s main attractions (as well as a boat tour mind you). And then there’s always Uber. Uber drivers are licensed and registered in the Netherlands and it’s cheaper than regular cabs.