- Amsterdam has developed an unfair reputation as a stoner mecca
- It has great bars, unique property and one of world’s top art collections
- The stylish W Hotel has now opened one of its newest businesses there
Amsterdam is a Mecca for tourists both old and young, who head to the city for everything from art galleries and culinary delicacies, to cannabis indulgence and stag dos.
While the attention often focuses on the city’s coffee shops and red light district, these infamous attributes barely scratch the surface of what it has to offer.
The canal-crossed metropolis is oozing with culture that has been going from strength to strength in recent years, so it’s little surprise the super-trendy W Hotel pitched up in the city centre just over 12 months ago. More on that later.
Amsterdam has long been popular with both old and young tourists looking to soak up some culture
I love the romanticism of the city, which only takes an hour to fly to from my home city of London, and I can spend hours walking along the city’s streets and canals, drooling over the quirky Dutch architecture.
The Amsterdammers are equally good at designing parks and their 47 hectare- Vondelpark is a beautiful outdoor space near some of the city’s best museums and galleries.
Among these is the brilliant Rijksmuseum, a museum dedicated to arts and history in Amsterdam that displays 8,000 objects of art and history from the years 1200–2000, including famous pieces from the old Masters like Jan Steen and Rembrandt.
Travel writer Caroline McGuire and her boyfriend visited Amsterdam for MailOnline
Those with more of an interest in design should head to the neighbouring Stedelijk Museum, which features everything from sculpture and installation to graphic design.
Across town, an unmissable museum for many is The Anne Frank House – the home where Anne and her family hid from Nazi persecution until they were discovered and moved to concentration camps.
Or for more of a light-hearted educational visit, tourists can opt for the city’s sex museum, which houses photos, objects and pieces of art that address human sexuality.
If nothing else – the enormous penis statues near the entrance provide an excellent Instagram opportunity.
A painting class at the Rijksmuseum, a museum dedicated to arts and history in Amsterdam that displays 8,000 objects of art and history from the years 1200–2000
Speaking of sex, it’s tough to write about Amsterdam and not mention the x-rated nightlife that the city as to offer.
But the thousands of stag dos visiting Amsterdam every year for the legalised prostitution and cannabis only account for a tiny portion of what happens after dark.
Unlike what I have found in much of Europe, Amsterdammers treat their bars like the British treat their pubs – for everyone’s use.
Families with young children sit alongside groups of young men and women catching up over beer and snacks in the cosy drinking holes, which are easily found if you walk along some of the less touristy streets.
Many Amsterdam bars are treated like British pubs, with young families also welcome
However, some of the snacks on offer are slightly baffling.
One dish that left my boyfriend and I slightly bemused was kaasblokjes – which translates into English as ‘blocks of cheese’.
Out of curiosity we ordered a portion and a few minutes later were presented with a plate of cubed pieces of Dutch cheese, accompanied with a little pot of mustard for dipping… only a country that has legalised cannabis could come up with such a dish.
Caroline’s bar snack of kaasblokjes, a plate of Dutch cheese cubes with a pot of mustard
This is a terrible reflection of the food Amsterdam has to offer though.
Every taste is catered for in the city’s restaurants and cafes, starting with the delicious Dutch cheese toasties on their famous dark bread, and as long as you stray outside of the very touristy central area it is almost impossible not to find a good place to eat.
A longer walk will take you to De Pijp, an area of south Amsterdam that used to be home to the working classes but is now a trendy neighbourhood, where you can indulge in everything from a classic herring roll at the market to great Indonesian food .
Indonesian food is something that Amsterdam does extremely well, as a result of Dutch colonialism in Indonesia.
Restaurant Blauw, which is on the edge of the famous Vondelpark, is one of the best-loved among locals, or for those staying a bit closer to the town centre, Sampurna is right in the middle of the touristy district.
Vondelpark is a beautiful outdoor space near some of the city’s best museums and galleries
For those looking to have a bit of a livelier meal, Trouw restaurant, which is attached to Trouw nightclub produces excellent Mediterranean sharing plates in a trendy industrial setting thanks to the building’s former life as a newspaper printing press.
Dance music lovers won’t be disappointed by the eclectic offerings from the nightclub either, with the likes of Laurent Garnier, Seth Troxler and Simian Mobile Disco all examples of recent bookings.
As anyone who knows anything at all about Amsterdam is aware of though, lack of entertainment is not a struggle that this city faces.
Whether it’s a visit to one of the 160 coffee shops that sell cannabis, the bars that play live music or the numerous English-language plays held in theatres around the city, there is always something to do at any time of the night.
Amsterdam’s W Hotel (left) is built in an old building that used to serve as a telephone exchange and bank
The interior of the hotel is very stylish and modern, with sleek furniture
The city has certainly taken on an extra edge of cool in the last few years, and capitalising on that is the W Hotel where we stayed – a newbie to the city since late 2015 and a sure sign that somewhere is populated by hipsters.
After taking a lift to the rooftop lounge, we were checked in at a podium (the W Amsterdam are too funky for reception desks), then taken down an extremely stark concrete corridor to our bedroom.
The room had orange and grey rubber floors (natch) that were offset with sleek modern furniture, while the tall height of the ceilings, thanks to the building’s history as a telephone exchange and bank, mean that even if the room is on the smaller size it looks impressively grand.
For those keen to explore more of the hotel, there is enough to keep a person occupied all weekend, without the need to leave.
The hotel is home to the city’s first rooftop pool, which is perfect for sunbathing and people-watching in the summer
The Duchess restaurant serves Mediterranean food in the grand surroundings of the old bank
The rooftop lounge and bar has sweeping views over the city with a live DJ in the evenings, and in the summer, guests can take their drinks out to the city’s first rooftop pool for some sunbathing and people-watching.
There is also a DJ soundtrack in the adjacent Mr Porter restaurant, which is a modern take on the traditional steakhouse.
If a more swanky setting takes your fancy though, guests can head across to The Duchess restaurant, which serves Mediterranean food in the grand surroundings of the old bank.
While the cost of a standard room is actually very reasonable in such a fashionable place, starting from around £180 a night without breakfast, these high-end extras do add up to a pretty pricey weekend stay, so make sure to save some cash in advance.
Men and women who like to splash the cash and place style and nightlife at the top of their requirements in a hotel will absolutely love what the W has to offer, but if you like old-fashioned hospitality then this probably isn’t the place for you.
Courtesy: Daily Mail Online