Amsterdam is a city that TLE holds close to its heart, known for its rich artistic heritage and Golden Age canal system from the 19th century lined by tilting gabled buildings it is picture perfect. Mix this with world class museums holding works by Rembrandt and Vermeer at the Rijksmuseum, and modern art at the Stedelijk, award-winning dining and a hedonistic nightlife and you have the perfect city break destination! There are so many things to do in Amsterdam you are spoilt for choice, so here is a selection of our favourite places to eat, things to do and places to stay, that will help you have the perfect visit to what is one of our favourite European city break destinations.
Located on the Oosterdokskade next to Central Station, two Michelin Starred &moshik takes the fine dining concept to a whole new level. The restaurant is brainchild of Michelin starred chef Moshik Roth who uses his talents to take diners on a gastronomic journey. Eating here is nothing short of a theatrical display with many dishes even created at your table. There is an A La Carte menu, but go for the tasting menu which comes in découverte and grand sized with meat/fish and vegetarian options and multiple amuse bouche to whet the palate! This is our favourite restaurant in Amsterdam, while the price is high, it’s an experience you won’t ever forget, expect the experience to last at least three to four hours and you’ll leave full and more knowledgeable about food.
Lovers of steak will want to make sure that they take the time to dine in style at MR PORTER. Located on the top floor of the super cool W Hotel on Spuistraat 175, the restaurant blends a modern steakhouse with a contemporary lounge and tops it off with one of the best terraces in the whole of the city. Although steak plays the starring role here, and with ten to choose from you are spoilt for choice, there are plenty of other dishes to enjoy such as roasted potato Carpaccio with beluga caviar, grilled lobster and grilled octopus salad. The restaurant also excels when it comes to side dishes and diners can enjoy pearl pasta with caramelised onions, black truffle polenta, broccoli with black garlic and a whole host of other imaginative options along with their steak.
Set in the NH Collection Amsterdam Barbizon Palace Hotel close to Central Station, Michelin Starred Vermeer boasts rustic charm and an elegant yet laid back setting. The restaurant menu is simple, instead of dishes to choose from there is a list of ingredients that you choose along with whether you’d like to opt for a four, five and six course menu. The dishes that are included in these menus change often as they are inspired by the seasonal ingredients and the focus is on vegetarian and simple unprocessed dishes much of which is grown in the restaurant’s garden. British chef Christopher Naylor can always be depended on to impress and there is always something new to discover as diners embark on an eclectic culinary journey.
Read our guide to the best restaurants in Amsterdam
Van Gogh Museum Private Tour
It’s no surprise the largest collection of Vincent Van Gogh paintings reside in the Dutch capital. Encased in a strikingly modern building at Museumplein, the incredible collection is worth going to see regardless of whether you are an art-history buff or not. From his first break-through piece ‘The Potato Eaters’, to the renowned ‘Sunflowers’, alongside a vast collection of self-portraits, the museum is a fitting tribute to the Netherland’s most famous artist. But for those who have a particular interest, a private tour offers something extra special. The private tour gives you a much more in depth look into the artists’ life and how his journey really influenced his work. The gallery itself is beautifully set up in a way that guides you through Vincent’s life, but we couldn’t recommend a private tour enough, purely for the extra tit-bits of knowledge and trivia the guides pass on, which truly brings the artist to life.
Rijksmuseum private tour
How can any visit to the Dutch capital be complete without a visit to the Rijksmueum? It can’t! We suggest taking the time to book a private tour to fully understand and experience the artwork within these esteemed walls. With over 8000 paintings, drawings, prints, photographs, pieces of furniture, sculptures and objects from all throughout Dutch history, the museum can at first seem overwhelming in the depth and variety of its content. Booking a private tour with an expert allows you to fully immerse yourself in the galleries and garner a fuller understanding of the incredible story of Dutch art history throughout the ages (Did you know that many of the Dutch still-life paintings from the 17th century included a half-peeled lemon as a moralistic message about the brevity of life and to remind families of their servitude to God?). Of course, no visit would be complete without viewing The Night Watch, Rembrandt’s greatest masterpiece, but the building itself is also quite the marvel!
The Royal Concertgebouw
Built in 1886, The Royal Concertgebouw is one of the most famous concert halls in the world. Known for its unparalleled acoustics and stunning interior, the Concertgebouw offers visitors a chance to experience the highest level of artistic programming from classical music to jazz. The concert hall has seen the likes of Richard Strauss, Vladimir Horowitz, Gustav Mahler, Louis Armstrong and even Sting take to its famed stage. With over 900 events a year, there is sure to be something to suit all tastes when you visit the city. Whilst in the city I had the chance to attend a seasonal concert by the renowned jazz singer Madeleine Peyroux and the Jazz Orchestra of the Concertgebouw. It was a truly special evening that got us right into the festive spirit!
De Bijenkorf, which literally translates as ‘the beehive’, is a chain of luxury Dutch department stores, the flagship of which stands pride of place on Dam Square in Amsterdam. It would be hard to miss the imposing store right at the centre of the city, especially during the festive period when it is adorned with holiday lights! What once started as a family-run haberdashery and employing just a staff of four, this mighty brand has expanded across the country to be at the forefront of luxury lifestyle and fashion in the Netherlands. From luxe leather goods that make the perfect (and easily transportable) gifts, to top contemporary European fashion designers for both ladies and men, De Bijenkorf is a must visit for us on any visit to Amsterdam.
Private boat hire with Cruise with Us
When in Amsterdam you may notice the preferred mode of transport to get around the city is the humble bicycle. It’s a wonderfully active way of getting around but misses that extra unique element we look for in a trip. My suggestion? Hire a private boat tour for you and your party! Cruise With Us offer a selection of three bespoke canal boats, each suitable for parties of different sizes. Whilst in the city I was on board the Soeverein for one lovely evening, cruising along the canals and enjoying an exceptional view of the city! Not only was the boat beautifully fitted out (dark wood and polished metal fixtures, rich and detailed furnishings, and an intricately painted ceiling), there is a kitchen and bar on board and staff who are knowledgeable and seem genuinely concerned with making your trip with them pleasurable. Not only will you learn about the city, you will also enjoy it amongst great company and with refreshment in hand!
Located on the Herengracht, the Walfdorf Astoria is a 93 room hotel which was once six canal townhouses that were home to Amsterdam’s super rich and have subsequently been converted into one hotel (look out for where each house starts and ends with the gold line around internal walls in the hotel) . Rooms range from standard up to lofts and penthouses with views over the Herengracht canal and the beautiful gardens at the back. The Waldorf Astoria is truly stunning and the painstaking attention to detail in the refurbishment has retained all the buildings historic features, while still keeping it contemporary and with all the latest features any luxury travel expects. Rooms are spacious and airy, (which is unusual for a city centre hotel in Amsterdam) and include gigantic bathrooms finished in marble with bath and television, separate shower and twin sinks. Rooms have wifi, Nespresso machine and entertainment centre and little finishing touches like electric curtains and an evening turn down service. The hotel features a Guerlain spa with three treatment rooms, pool, steam room and sauna. The pool overlooks the gardens at the back and is an oasis of calm to relax in after a day exploring the city. The aptly named Vault bar was once the safe room in the building and it maintains a nod to the past with the safety deposit boxes still visible at the back of the bar. The hotel restaurant is run in collaboration with 3-star Michelin restaurant De Librije & the Goldfinch Brasserie.
Check prices or availability for: Waldorf Astoria
Built on the home of what was the Sweelinck Conservatory of Music the Conservatorium Hotel opened its doors in 2011 heralding a new level of contemporary luxury accommodation in the city. Part of the Set group of hotels and visioned by Milan designer Piero Lissoni the building has been completely restored to it’s former 19th century beauty. Located on museum square, a stones throw from the Rijksmuseum, Vondelpark, the Van Gogh Museum and shopping mecca P.C Hoofstraat it is the perfect base for exploring Amsterdam. The hotel has 129 rooms over 8 floors ranging from superior rooms up to suites. The hotel, like the Waldorf Astoria, blends old world with new world and the main glass atrium which houses the brasserie and hotel reception is breathtaking. The hotel is home to to the Akasha Holistic Centre which is a 1000sqm spa and gym that combines the best of eastern and western massage treatments, a 18m by 5m pool, whirlpool and Hamman sauna. The restaurant and brasserie are under the direction of celebrated Dutch chef Schilo van Coevorden. The brasserie and lounge sits within the main glass atrium and offers all day dining as well as afternoon tea. Tunes restaurant is located within the historic part of the building and opens in the evening and the fabulous bar which I loved is next to the restaurant and is super modern and cosy serving cocktails, champagne and tapas.
Check prices or availability for: The Conservatorium
This five-star boutique hotel leaves little to the imagination in terms of superior levels of customer service and an immaculate attention to detail. The Dylan is equipped with 40 rooms and suites. Each of these boasts an individual decor, so no two experiences will ever be alike. As the hotel is nestled within the tourist-friendly Keizersgracht district of Amsterdam, it is quite easy to visit all of the most famous attractions in the city by foot. Rooms and suites provide modern amenities such as flat-screen televisions, free wireless Internet and complimentary toiletries. When these amenities are combined with a world-class restaurant and competitive pricing, it is clear to appreciate why The Dylan enjoys such a positive reputation.
Check prices or availability for: The Dylan