TRAVEL GUIDE: A WEEKEND IN AMSTERDAM
Considering just how close and accessible Amsterdam is, it’s surprising how few times I’ve visited this picturesque and interesting city. This was my third trip to the Dutch city and by far my favourite visit.
For many years, I thought the city was a little seedy and you only went if you want to smoke weed on the streets. Don’t get me wrong - there’s still the Red Light District and smoking weed is still legal here - but there is so much more to Amsterdam that makes it a worthy weekend break. There’s culture, good food, cool people - and it’s very very pretty with its wonky houses and canals running through the city. As with any city, you can pick and choose the areas you want to visit and stay away from the areas that you don’t, which is exactly what we did.
Amsterdam is a city for all seasons, but my friend Rosie and I went at the very end of September, which if you’re wondering, is the perfect time to visit. Crisp and fresh, with beautiful blue skies, we couldn’t have asked for better. Our visit was only a fleeting one - a blink and you’ll miss it two night stay - so we tried to cram in as much as possible (as always) however there was by far more to see than we had time for on this occasion but hopefully this guide will give you a good starting point if you’re considering a trip!
WHERE TO STAY
For design lovers, there’s Pulitzer Amsterdam located on the Prinsengracht and Keizersgracht. A historical five star hotel that consists of 25 canal houses from the 17th & 18th century all merged into one - so if you’re wondering why the staircases are all a little maze like, that’s why!
It’s a beauty from start to finish. The lobby has moody chic written all over it, the garden terrace is an idllyic haven for warmer days and their cafe ‘Pause’ is a vision of green velvet and light pouring in from the glass windows (I really REALLY recommend you try their macaroons - hands down the best I’ve ever eaten, sorry Paris!). We stayed in one of their Generous Rooms - spacious, with views over the canal and the most beautiful marble bathrooms. Not forgetting the complimentary stroopwafels. Never forget the complimentary stroopwafels. Other hotel amenities include a gym (um, we didn’t stop by), a moody library stocking Pulitzer prize books, complimentary bikes to use (but you need to book them out in advance), the decadent Pulitzer’s Bar and all-day dining restaurant Jansz. There are also large meeting rooms should you feel like throwing a convention during your stay too.
Location wise, we hit the jackpot with this hotel as it was literally in the heart of where we wanted to be exploring - the Nine Streets neighbourhood - we couldn’t have asked for a better postcode. It filled us with joy every day we spent walking around, as we always somehow came back to the hotel within no time.
If you’re not lucky enough to be staying in one - they were all occupied during our stay (weep) - then try and have a sneaky peek at one of their insanely gorgeous ‘Collector’s Suites’. We got to see inside the Antique Collector’s and the Pulitzer Suite (my fave) and blew our minds. Oh how the other half live…
WHERE TO EAT
Jansz - the hotel’s all-day dining restaurant is available to all, with an entrance on the street as well as accessible from inside for hotel guests. It serves up a mean breakfast buffet as well as a makes for a great evening meal destination. It also helps that it’s impossibly pretty so all-round, it’s quite the pleaser and definitely worth your visit.
Cafe Winkel 43 - Always busy thanks to world famous levels of apple pie. Go, it’s good.
Coffee & Coconuts - A popular place for hungry brunchers to late night feasters. We went for breakfast and it was so damn good. Get their scrambled eggs avo - because you’re basic and proud.
Van Wonderen Stroopwafels - Partly, I just love the name. Baked doughy biscuity waffles filled with caramel syrup and topped with your decadent choice of whatever calorific thing you want. It’s a Dutch rite of passage you have to try.
Pluk - A twee little homestore meets cafe - shop something cute whilst eating cake.
Soho House Amsterdam - If you’re a member, then a few cocktails on the roof are a must. Make mine a Picante de la casa please. Non-members can stay here too and enjoy all the member spaces during their stay.
Van Stapele Koekmakerij - Do not leave Amsterdam without visiting Van Stapele for the most insanely good double choc cookies. There’s a reason this place always has queues (don’t worry - it goes quickly). You can only buy I think seven at a time, so don’t waste time faffing, just buy a tin full and be on your way.
My Little Patisserie - Not that you probably need any more sweet treats, but if you’re an eclair fan, stop by here and pick yourself up one of their finest and spend the afternoon walking off your devilishly good sin.
Venus & Adonis - located in the heart of the Jordaan area, this pretty little restaurant offers light lunches and delicious evening meals.
WHAT TO DO
Rijksmuseum - A destination that goes without saying. Spend your time wandering this fascinating museum, making sure you don’t miss out on the incredible library attached to the museum. Be sure to go early in the morning - it gets busy very, very quickly.
Hortus Botanicus - Aside from having the best name ever, this botanical garden is quite a nice place to waste away an hour or so. It’s not very big so don’t plan too much time here, and it’s not quite Kew Gardens (there’s no place finer in my opinion) but if you’re like me, you have to visit every botanical garden there is in the world, right?
Visit Damrak at sunset - First things first, this is an area of Amsterdam I don’t love. It’s overridden with naff shops and way too many tourists BUT the iconic view calls. Capture the famous wonky houses of Amsterdam during golden hour - it’s instagram gold dust.
Get on your bike - Amsterdam is known for its bikes - they are EVERYWHERE. So do as the locals, and rent one out from one of the many bike shops that you’ll come across. All are pretty cheap and very easy to rent from. Just remember which side of the road you’re cycling on and you’ll be fine!
WHERE TO SHOP
Anna + Nina - My favourite shop for interior inspo, home goodies and jewellery. There’s a few dotted around and I strongly recommend visiting each, like I did, because I’m obsessed.
All the luck in the world - For jazzy pieces for the home and affordable jewellery, this sweet little shop is a good go to.
Pluk - If it’s girly and pinterest-worthy, it’s probably from Pluk.
Beadies - Obsessed with their range of rings, I left with three myself! Find the shop in the Nine Streets neighbourhood, around the corner from the Pulitzer Amsterdam.