It’s been a while since my trip to Amsterdam. However, I still remember the conclusion I made during that short city-break. I finally ound a city where I’d happily stay for a while, get settled for some 5 years maybe =)
Since I don’t remember my exact itinerary, and I did it much before I had an idea of creating this website and getting into a partnership with Tavsan Surat, I will just go through the ‘Amsterdam’ folder in my photo library and tell a few words to you about the best places I went to.
Let’s start from a fast sightseeing ⇓⇓⇓
W Hotel Amsterdam
What can I say? I was lucky to stay in this 5* hotel listed in 10 best boutique hotels of Amsterdam…
It’s spilt across two buildings – a former telephone exchange building and a bank. So are they called – Exchange and Bank.
I stayed in W Bank, and imagine, in my 3 days in Amsterdam, I managed to stay in 2 completely different rooms within the W Hotel 🙂
- A room from 24 to 40 sq.m.
- Perfectly constructed, I didn’t feel lack of space at all
- With a round bath tube =))
I loved it, it was the best example of a smart hotel where everything is well thought out, compact, designed with a taste.
However, as Platinum SPG guests we were supposed to get the best room they had available (and the hotel got a red card for not providing it to us from the 1st night!), so on the next day we relocated to:
Room #2 – Marvelous Suite Bank
- A 2-floor suite
- Living room area + bedroom upstairs
- We had a gramophone, vinyl records, retro radio, TV, a bar stand, two toilets etc.
It was considered a luxury suite, but I was so disappointed by it. It wasn’t designed that smart – the stairs were very uncomfortable to use, each of them was too high. Perhaps you can use them comfortably only having long Dutch legs))
The duplex had a shower, not the romantic round bath tube like the ‘small room’. And imagine, the first night I was so exhausted that I didn’t use my wonderful bath tube. And on the 2nd, I didn’t have it anymore… 🙁
So I would definitely recommend the rooms, against the duplex suite. Checking out the other rooms in W Bank, I would pay attention to Fantastic Bank, with a terrace and jacuzzi, a WOW Suite Bank, with a round bath tube, or an almost 200 sq. m. Extreme WOW Suite, in case you want the most expensive room they have – from 2400 EUR 😀
We stayed in W Amsterdam as SPG members, but if you are not limited by SPG choice, have a look at the Hotels in Amsterdam. Boutique and budget stays page. I list some authentic accommodation options there.
Walking along the canals
It was more of a relaxing trip, I can even say romantic. The type of trip you’d prefer to get red roses & champagne, not chasing activities.
So in alco-flower-free time I just recommend some walks along the canals, I didn’t use any maps, guides, I don’t know anything about the buildings on the photos. For me it was just absolutely beautiful, which doesn’t require any information behind it.
The Amsterdam Tulip Museum
Accidentally I found myself in front of the Tulip Museum. Of course I entered, bought a ticket, and went through the whole thing. After which I can clearly state that it’s a waste of money and time. You’ll see a couple of films about the history of tulip business, some photos on the walls, and basically that’s it. The admission fee is 5 EUR/adults.
Well, I found out that tulips came to the Dutch from Ottomans. But I’m sure that most of you already know it, and if not – you can read about it on the web))
Heinen Delftware & The Royal Delft Experience Amsterdam
Located in the very centre, at KalverStraat crosswalk. It’s a shop of the famous Delft pottery and next doors – the Delft Experience Tour. Unluckily during my stay in Amsterdam the experience tour wasn’t running due to restoration works in the building. So I had access only to the shop, where I was happy to spend both time, and money 😉
The Heinen Delftware shop is a great place:
- To see how it’s done – on the 1st floor you’ll find an artist handpainting pottery
- To buy souvenirs – anything from 2 EUR till thousands of euros worth items
- To give your eyes a while of rest – it’s really peaceful to be surrounded by white-blue pottery, even when the shop is full of customers
Restaurant De Kas
It’s definitely a great place, although I have some mixed feelings here:
- De Kas is a restaurant with greenhouses & garden just on the premises of the restaurant
- The founder is taking care of the nursery and you can meet him every day while he’s taking care of the vegetables
- It worth reading the short history of the restaurant, saying how the owner, a top chef, converted an old municipal greenhouse (which was about to be demolished) into a successful restaurant with a revolutionary concept.
- De Kas serves only organic food, produced either by themselves, or by partner-farmers in Amsterdam area
- The only disadvantage, for me personally, is the too sophisticated dishes. Well, you might be a fan of them, if you are used to this very organic cuisine, but as for me, it was too much of onions, celery, carrots and whatever else under sometimes weird seasoning 🙂
- The interior is a WOW-WOW for me!
- The menu is daily, so you can’t choose specific dishes, only have to decide whether you want a 3 or 4 course lunch menu, and the dinner is always 5 dishes.
- You can book a table directly in the kitchen and be in the middle of the ongoing masterpiece creation!
So as you see, I only have concerns about the cuisine itself, but I know many people who’d say they’d love to eat this kind of food daily.
The restaurant is located outside the city centre, surrounded by private gardens with little summer houses (just for a person, or two), happy Dutch ducks are walking around. Don’t forget to book a table well in advance, we could get one only for lunch, not for dinner.
A typical Dutch village with goats, milk, cheese, windmills and within a 20-min drive from Amsterdam!
Be prepared to find many reviews saying that it’s too touristy, and not authentic, and whatever else people in wrong mood might say. In fact, it’s me always looking for non touristy places, zero crowd space and air to breathe. So if I loved Zaanse Schans, I’m sure most of you will.
Things to do & see in Zaanse Schans:
- Clog workshop – see how the traditional Dutch clogs are made, take some clogs with you home, to get your neighbors downstairs relocate =)
- Cheese workshop – any comments? Watch & learn how the creamy Dutch cheese is prepared (you can also buy plush toys, like goats, in the workshop)
- Goat & poultry farm – that’s a great fun for kids (and never grown ups like me). Here you can pet, film & feed the animals, they are extremely friends and safe, especially if you give them some food – can be purchased in the farm, for 50 cents, as far as I remember.
- CacaoLab – a shop with fine chocolate selection from the most ‘choco-countries’, handmade choco bonbons and a chocolate making workshops upstairs, above the shop.
- Ice-cream – regardless of the weather and time of year, try the best milky ice-cream ever at Zaanse Schans. It’s sold from a caravan, you’ll find it just before turning to the farm.
- Windmills – various museums and workshops are located inside the windmills, like spice warehouse, oil, paint, cocoa etc.
- Other workshops & museums – by the time I got to Zaanse, it was almost 5 pm, exactly when the majority of shops & workshops close in the village. Hopefully you’ll get there earlier and manage to visit much more. A great guideline can be found on the official page of Zaanse Schans
The Smallest House in Amsterdam
2,02 m wide and 5 m deep, and in fact it has 3 floors where you can find a tea shop and a private tearoom. We entered the house without knowing that it’s something special, and all we wanted was breakfast. Only after we actually started to have it, step by step, we found out that it’s the smallest house in Amsterdam, dates back to 18th century, or even earlier, you can book the tearoom for breakfast, brunch, lunch or just tea. The room can fit 5 guests.
The Smallest House is a very memorable place hidden in the centre of Amsterdam, and a real must visit, in my opinion!
Floating Flower Market – Bloemenmarkt
Don’t expect it to float =) You can’t feel that unfortunately, since it’s a very stable construction above the Singel canal. However it’s the brightest place in Amsterdam, and a high danger for shopaholics – even if you are not crazy about flowers normally, you’ll get addicted to them here. Some recommendations:
- I bought a lot of ‘canned flowers’ – you get a tin can with soil and seed(s) to plant back home. I’m not a pro gardener, but there was no plant grown out of those sets ? and I bought around 10 cans))
- On the other hand simply packed seeds in paper bags were a good investment – I had great cherries & basil on my balcony this summer
Besides that, there are many souvenirs (nice & ugly), so it’s another good place for presents from Amsterdam.
Old Amsterdam – cheese & wine pairing
The very strong flavoured Old Amsterdam cheese is not only a perfect match for a dinner, but also an educational experience in the Dutch capital. During the cheese & wine pairing (you taste 5 cheeses & 3 wines) we learned about the production process of their signature cheese, found out that there is no precise duration of the maturing process (the company’s cheese experts are trying the cheese in aging rooms and give the green light if they taste done), why goat cheese is suitable for lactose intolerant people, and a lot of other things.
After the tasting we had a quiz, and guess who won =)
Old Amsterdam has 3 shops in the capital and 3 cheese tasting rooms respectively.
The best place in Amsterdam for a morning, day and even night out, loved by locals & pro-travellers 😉 And I was so excited, that I didn’t take too many photos, sorry… So photos bellow are credited to: renthouse.nl; citybussexpress.com; asthebirdfliesblog.com; foodhallen.nl; olivemagazine.com; topazandsapphire.com
De Hallen is a food, media, culture, crafts centre located in an old tram depot in the Amsterdam West district.
Let me start from FoodHallen – it’s divided in 2 major parts. First with plenty of different restaurants and open space eating table all around (in fact, it’s extremely crowded during dinner time, so come in advance!).
The second part is Kanarie Club. It’s less crowded here, but more expensive, and you’ll need a reservation to get a table. Besides the dining area, they have a wine-bar & a pool-bar.
Both parts of FoodHallen have DJ nights and special events announced at their web-sites. Additionally, let me mention that the place is great not only for nighty hunger, but also for breakfast, brunch, lunch and any kind of bites.
Even though FoodHallen is far from the centre, crowded, requires reservation (in case of Kanarie Club), it’s a must visit in order to feel the impulsive temperament of the city. Amsterdam is here, not in the red lights or cannabis.
Coming back to other directions of De Hallen centre. Let’s go through some of their ‘tenants’:
- Kinki Academy – an arty place to get a haircut or learn hairdressing
- AmsterGem – hand-made jewelry. They also offer a 3h workshop here
- Filmhallen – a movie theatre with 9 screening rooms
- Jean School – the world’s first full time denim developer school, exactly: sewing, fitting, washing, designing. The students graduate with a Level 3 diploma in Art & Design
- House of Denim – in collaboration with the Jean School, the House of Denim hosts denim workshops, mainly focused on recycling & re-using denim
- The full list of tenants can be found here
Accommodation in De Hallen
I don’t know if you did, but all the info above ensured me once again that De Hallen is a place to engage you for at least a whole day. But you don’t have to leave when the activities end. The old tram depot offers accommodation options as well:
- Hotel De Hallen – 55-room hotel with an industrial look & feel
- Apartments De Hallen – 6 spacious and luxurious loft apartments
Dinner on Boat
And let me finish this Amsterdam storytelling with a romantic note – a dinner cruise 🙂
We booked the cruise through Viator, but since now I know the provider, as usually I would recommend to make a reservation directly. It was the Blue Boat canal cruise company and a great 3-course dinner, wine, a chef onboard, and some light, but not overwhelming commentaries from the captain when passing by a sightseeing spot. Magic two and a half hours, great memories and no photos 😉
Am I the only one not having in mind photos when being in the very best company and surroundings? 🙂