Amsterdam is one of Europe’s most beautiful and vibrant cities famous for it’s tolerance and picturesque canals. It is also overflowing with achingly trendy and stylish hangouts, subcultures and creative types and… 2 Unlimited, but the less said about them the better.
Museums, art galleries, bike rides and uber-stylish eateries are a far cry from stag weekends, sex shows and spliffs and at just under an hours flight from Birmingham its the perfect weekend getaway. With 48-hours to explore here are our picks of the must sees and do’s of the Dam.
Get on your bike
By renting a bike you can experience the city like a local. The bicycle is undoubtedly the most practical means of transportation in Amsterdam and the best way to see the city.
The MacBike Shop is ideally situated opposite Amsterdam Central Station where its bright red bikes make it apparent to everyone that you are a novice cycling tourist. On the plus side also means it is easier for the locals to know well in advantage to get the heck out of your way – especially when navigating past the narrow footpaths near the canals.
Get a room
The Mint Hotel is Amsterdam’s newest kid on the block offering distinctive design inside and out and is conveniently located in the centre and only a few short minutes walk from Central Station. The rooms ooze stylish-minimalism with splashes of colour offered through the soft furnishings. There’s a super-sexy imac in every room that channels TV, radio and free internet access.
If that’s not enough the hotel also offers the best cocktails and views of the city in it’s stylish rooftop bar; Skylounge (pictured above).
Brasserie Harkema is a hip and updated version of the classic Parisian brasserie with a contemporary modern edge. The decor and menu are both minimally and excellently executed with an open kitchen, open-plan dining and cosmopolitan atmosphere all going together to offer a casual-dining loft experience. A large wine selection is displayed on shelves along one wall from floor to ceiling while Paul Smith-esque signature stripes are a statement piece opposite.
Supperclub: If you you prefer a bit of performance art with your food then this is the place for you. My usual version of ‘supper’ is a bit of marmite on toast and a 2 finger Kit-Kat, but this places takes it into the realms of “art”.
On arrival you’re asked to wait in the dark, leather clad S&M styled bar, before you embark upstairs to an uber-modernist white room with psychedelic backdrops. DJ’s spin ambient house music while performance artists play instruments to accompany the sounds all while you relax on beds and eat your 5-course surprise tasting menu (the night we went it had an oriental influence). If it all sounds a bit achingly trendy and Nathan Barley-esque then prepare to be surprised as it’s completely unpretentious and great fun!
The Dylan: Try High Wine at one of the World’s original boutique hotels. Situated in a 17th Century landmark building on the ‘Keizersgracht’ canal, in the heart of the trendy ‘nine streets’ district High Wine at The Dylan offers excellent wine and food pairing in luxurious surroundings. Sample four wines with accompanying amuse style bites (small plates) of food all in the opulent Michelin awarded restaurant Vinkeles. Ceasar Salad with King Prawn, Duck breast with Spring beans and rasperrys with processco and fresh mint is a hint of what to expect.
If you want to push the boat out – literally – then you can step out of Vinkeles and on to a completely renovated 19th century saloon vessel called ‘The Muse’ for a gastro evening on the water. €925 gets you a The Muse and a skipper for four hours. The 6 course menu with accompanying wines is an additional €225 per person which also includes the service of the chef and Maitre-D along with a glass of champagne – perfect luxury!
Droog (Staalstraat 7a/b, Amsterdam, 1011 JJ)
With a selection of no-nonsense conceptual design, lighting, furniture and studio-work projects that have been extensively published in interior and style magazines and collected by museums all over the world Droog is the place to go to fit out the most stylish canalside warehouse apartment.
Get A History Lesson
Het Grachtenhuis (The Canal House) covers 400 years of the cities canal history in 40 minutes. A fascinating and fun multi-media experience all housed in a beautiful 17th century canal house (of course). The perfect introduction to the fascinating cityscape of the Netherlands capital city and perfect to whet your appetite before you embark on a trip along one of its many many canals.
One of the cities newest attractions where history and new technology collide to make for a quick but informative history lesson. Space is compact so it’s advised to buy your ticket in advance. Stichting Het Grachtenhuis, Herengracht 386, 1016 CJ Amsterdam
How to get there
Fused travelled with bmibaby and the Netherlands Tourist Board to Amsterdam.
The Mint Hotel is located on the river front next to the Central Station and within easy reach of a host of attractions. Rooms start from €199 per night. http://www.minthotel.com/our-hotels/amsterdam
bmibaby, flies direct from Birmingham Airport to Amsterdam up to thirteen times a week. Fares start from just £19.99 one way including all taxes. For the lowest fares and to book a flight, visit www.bmibaby.com.
High Wine is served every day between 3pm and 7pm at the Dylan Hotel and costs 39.50 Euros per person (£35.49 per person). To make a reservation, call +31(0)20 530 2010 or visit www.dylanamsterdam.com
For more information about Amsterdam please visit www.Holland.com