Amsterdam is one of the most magical cities in Europe, thanks to its network of canals and elaborately gabled buildings. The city has always attracted the design world and those obsessed with its world-class museums and one-of-a-kind boutiques. Any visit to Amsterdam should include a mix of Golden Age treasures along with time spent exploring its contemporary side, and the city is now easier to get to from Europe with new direct Eurostar service from London. The best time to visit is spring, as it’s the start of tulip season. The famous flower fields are outside the city, but Amsterdam celebrates the Tulip Festival in April with over 800,000 tulips right in town.
The Pulitzer Hotel in Amsterdam
Amsterdam has no shortage of charming boutique hotels and one standout is the newly renovated Pulitzer Amsterdam, a member of Preferred Hotels. Located in the Nine Streets neighborhood, the hotel is made from 25 interconnected 400-year- old townhouses centered around a courtyard. The design combines original canal house details, such as wood beams and replaces with modern and antique furniture. The hotel pays respects to its literary roots (the owner’s grandfather was Joseph Pulitzer) with a lobby library stocked with Pulitzer Prize-winning books.
The Van Gogh Museum. Photo by Jan-Kees Steenman.
The city is filled with world-class museums and two can’t-miss places include the Van Gogh Museum (reservations are necessary) as well as the Rijksmuseum, home to some of the greatest works of Dutch art. The Anne Frank House is a somber but fascinating stop; visits are by timed entry only. For contemporary art and design, be sure to stop by the Stedelijk Museum, dubbed “the bathtub,” thanks to its new extension. Renowned Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas recently reworked the exhibition space for the museum’s permanent collection, which is known as Stedelijk BASE.
Smaller art spaces include the GO Gallery which champions street art. Mediamatic showcases projects about sustainability, innovative agriculture and bio-art; here you can enjoy a vegan lunch grown in an onsite aquaponics greenhouse. Foam is a small gallery that packs a big punch with its international photography collection. Younger visitors will love The Nemo science museum, which is housed in a Renzo Piano-designed building that resembles the hull of a ship. On a sunny day make sure to have lunch on the outdoor terrace overlooking the water.
Rijksmuseum. Photo by John Lewis Marshall.
One of the best ways to experience Amsterdam is on the water, and there’s a wide variety of boat cruises specializing in everything from pancakes to art. The Rijksmuseum offers its own canal cruise, while Architecture Tours sail past the new buildings of the Eastern Docklands or the manmade islands of the new IJburg District.
Amsterdam’s rich design heritage is seen in its unique shops. X Bank, a combination art gallery and department store, specializes in Dutch labels, while Pluk is a charming café and home goods store. Six and Sons sells a curated mix of new and vintage items sourced from around the world.
Dutch design has its own aesthetic and global following, and some of the best examples are found at hotel cum design studio Droog, which is known for its quirky and innovative pieces such as the now iconic “Chest of Drawers” from Tejo Remy. Head to Hay Amsterdam to browse the midcentury modern furniture, or The Frozen Fountain to see pieces from emerging designers. The Otherist is inspired by Victorian curiosity cabinets and stocks everything from taxidermy to jewelry and housewares.
The city’s dining scene is booming, and diners can take their pick from traditional Dutch cuisine served with a twist or a meal with a global influence. The stylish Nooch showcases an Asian fusion menu and is ideal for lunch or dinner. Bar Fisk feels like a seaside patio and the menu features the flavors of Tel Aviv, such as cured seabream with fennel and pomegranate. Pick up beautifully packaged chocolate bars from Urban Cacao. The jade-green Bar Botanique in the Eastern Docklands feels tropical, thanks to an abundance of plants and bamboo trees. And don’t forget the occasional hot stroopwafel from the street vendors!
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