The Dutch are as famous for their tolerance as they are for their clogs and windmills. Thus in Amsterdam sober and sinful attractions exist side by side. Amsterdam was built on the wealth of canny merchants, and the relative lack of blood in the city’s past speaks to the longstanding local preference for cozy, easygoing conviviality — a way of life that’s so ingrained that the Dutch even have a word for it: gezelligheid.
That trademark warmth and niceness more or less seeps into your veins as you move through the city streets, some of the most bike-friendly on earth. Tulips bloom and houseboats bob on the tranquil canals. Aqueous Amsterdam is sometimes called the Venice of the North. Amsterdam has long held itself up. Visiting in 18th century, Voltaire observed: “Here, nobody stands in the street to watch a prince ride by.” The architecture — those narrow, leaning, gabled, houses that seem to be out of a storybook — lacks the monumental arrogance of other European capitals. It’s standard practice to keep the front curtains open.
Fashion-wise, Amsterdam is certainly less exciting than nearby Antwerp. Dutchmen Viktor & Rolf have even claimed that the city’s lack of stylistic adventurousness is what they love about it. At the same time, there are smart little boutiques and antiques shops. There’s the plugged-in approach to contemporary art and design. There’s in-demand designer Marcel Wanders, who has his studio in the rehabilitated working-class neighborhood of Jordaan.
It’s been more than three centuries since Amsterdam led the world in terms of wealth and global influence. But many of the city’s defining traits haven’t changed that much. It’s still foreigner-friendly, even if today’s immigrants are not Venetian glassblowers or French silk-weavers. The smell of nutmeg and cloves once wafted out from the United East-Indian Company’s headquarters; more recently, a visitor’s most pungent memory might be of the cannabis haze clouding scruffy coffee shops.
As the city gets re-polished, the aromas are shifting yet again. There is a lot to commemorate in 2013, including the 400th anniversary of the city’s canals and Van Gogh’s 160th birthday. (The museum devoted to him here is world-class.) And this year marks the end of the ten-year renovation of the majestic Rijksmuseum, a closure that tested the patience and understanding of not only the locals. That’s right. In Amsterdam, the Old Masters are back.
The Dylan Hotel
Tucked behind a historical façade along the canals of the city’s charming center, the Dylan Amsterdam provides an exclusive gateway to discovering the treasures of Amsterdam. Comprised of various houses around a classical courtyard, the Dylan is recognized for its modern-meets-classic design and dedicated service. It’s main restaurant, Vinkeles, was awarded a Michelin star in November 2009 for its delicate French cuisine. Executive Chef Kuipers uses only the freshest ingredients for his seasonal menu.
These Dutch godfathers of pragmatic, funny design use their Amsterdam flagship to showcase their greatest and latest inventions. Having achieved world renown for works like Tejo Remy’s loosely bundled set of found drawers or his chair made out of rags, Droog delivers dry commentary on the too-often all-surface/no-substance world of design by using discarded or unlikely materials to style familiar objects.
Lion Noir opened its doors to the public in 2010. Located on the happening street the Reguliersdwarstraat 28, Lion Noir will offers lunch, cocktails, and fine cuisine. Lion Noir is a collaboration between tCasper Reinders, Mr Yen and Serge Rijn. Its interior – designed by architect Thijs Murre – offers a unique, warm and home- like atmosphere.
A mixture between store and gallery, WonderWood is situated close to the Dam Square, Munt & Stopera. Showing “the wonderworld of wood” WonderWood is the place to go for anyone interested in innovations in wood design .
On the ground floor of the Hotel Okura Amsterdam, you’ll find Yamazato Restaurant offering authentic Japanese cuisine. The restaurant introduced the traditional haute cuisine of Japan — kaiseki ryori — partly influenced by the ritual of the Japanese tea ceremony. The typically Japanese ambience at Yamazato is further enhanced by impeccable service.
In 2001, Chef Gert Jan Hageman found a new direction for his career when he converted the glass Municipal Nursery building into a restaurant and nursery. Situated in Frankendael ParkDe Kas, the restaurant is an oasis of calm. Weather permitting; sit outside in the herb garden.
The Frozen Fountain
Incongruously located on one the city’s stodgier canals, the Frozen Fountain presents an up-to-the-second snapshot of Dutch design. Its owners - Cok de Rooy and Dick Dankers - have built a collection that shows a skillful balance between the worlds of art and design.
Amsterdam Watch Company
Here, a small team of watchmakers restores old watches (postwar to mid-1970s). With more then 10 years experience, the team can also evaluate your watch’s value for resale. You’ll find exclusive watch brands for sale, such as Christiaan van der Klaauw, Roland Oostwegel, and Dornbluth & Sohn.
Tenue de Nimes
Tenue de Nîmes is Amsterdam’s finest denim store, stocking the worlds most iconic denim brands such as Levi’s Vintage Clothing, Momotaro, Naked & Famous, Big John, Tellason, Edwin, Mister Freedom, Rogue Territory, Imogene + Willie, Pure Blue Japan and Rag & Bone.
Karin Gaasterland and Alain Parry converted this former blacksmith shop into a warm, welcoming restaurant. With an open kitchen at its heart, the restaurant’s menu is whimsical and inventive. Sit on the terrace or sidewalk tables for a three course menu, as you enjoy people watching.
This Amsterdam institution has satisfied customers since 1993 with its superior menu — one that’s fetched several Cannabis Cup accolades — combined with helpful service and a cozy ambiance.
290 Sq Meters
The store was originally founded in 2001 as a place of discovery where you can find a unique selection of shoes, clothes, bags, books, music, magazines and art. With a new location near the flea market Waterlooplein, in an underground bank vault , 290 sq meters carries brands such as Levi’s, Nike, S.N.S., A.P.C., Our Legacy, Rodebjer, Anderson’s, Minimarket, Freitag, Porter and Surface and Air.
Oger Amsterdam — the first of the Oger stores, established in 1989 - is the largest, comprising four departments: Dressed for Success, Informal, Atelier Italia and The Board- room. Dressed for Success offers a choice of ready- to-wear suits, jackets, tuxedos, shoes and hand-made shirts. At Informal, the emphasis lies on smart-casual clothing. Atelier Italia has a beautiful collection of the most exclusive Italian brands. For a bespoke wardrobe, Oger’s Boardroom provides service of the highest level. The store is easily recognized by its signature Bordeaux red store-front.
Located in the former chapel of the St Nicolaas Monastery, what first strikes you upon entering is As’ welcoming and warm atmosphere. The organic menu changes seasonally, and is re-interpreted daily, with an emphasis on Mediterranean cuisine. The service is excellent and the food original.
Here the cocktails range from exotic - spicy with ginger ale and peppers- to intriguing - made with grilled cheese, fat or peanut butter. Door 74 might be the best bar in Amsterdam, yet its address is secret, which is part of its lure. The inside is dimly lit and reminiscent of speakeasies. The crowd is sexy and the music is lounge-y.
Located close to the center of town in the Old South district, EEN was founded by Aebe Ferilli and provides style-conscious male shoppers with an alternative to the other traditional retail outlets by offering a mix of authenticity and sophistication. With a classic interior and vintage furniture, the shop gives a nod to legacy and tradition and offers a product mix that includes brands like Gitman Bros Vintage, Barbour, Yuketen, Filson, Penfield and more.
Haar Barbaar is located on one of the main streets in Amsterdam, the Wolvenstraat. The shop is stunning and run by two barbers - and brothers - who carry the craft to its highest form. Cut-throat shaves, splendid old-fashioned haircuts - all performed in traditional barbershop chairs - prove HaarBarbaar the best Barbershop in the West. Don’t miss the hot towel shave+face massage accompanied by Jack Daniels on the rocks. Only walkins, first come first serve.
Built in the former public library of Amsterdam, Andaz is sophisticated and relaxed, akin to the atmosphere of the city. Centrally located and inspired by its traditional crafts, the hotel’s design borrows themes from golden age, delft blue, navigation and adventure. Enjoy the social hub of the hotel and relax with a cup of coffee or glass of wine in the Andaz Lounge.