City hitlist: Amsterdam

Once best known for its coffee shops, the Netherlands capital attracts city hoppers seeking creative dining, drinking and shopping.
Traditional Dutch buildings.

Traditional Dutch buildings.


Where to stay

The Dylan

This elegant townhouse set behind a courtyard began life in the 1630s as the city’s first theatre. Forty supremely comfortable rooms and suites surround a private garden, perfect for afternoon “high wine” sessions. The concierge team can plan excursions, or retreat to The Dylan’s Michelin-starred restaurant Vinkeles.

Keizersgracht 384,

The Dylan.

Where to shop

The Maker Store

About 90 unique Amsterdam brands and makers are featured in this converted tram depot, now bright with natural light and ideas. (The De Hallen complex also houses a food hall, boutiques and arthouse cinemas.) Once a month, meet the makers at a storefront market.

Hannie Dankbaarpassage 39,

The Maker Store.

Where to drink

“If you want to know about a culture,” advised Ernest Hemingway, “spend a night in its bars.” Start the research at Pulitzer’s Bar (Keizersgracht 234; above), where the writer’s swashbuckling life inspired the clubby canalside bar’s previous inventive cocktail list – the current round of inspiration comes from Agatha Christie. For only-in-Amsterdam ambience since 1642, Café Papeneiland (Prinsengracht 2), is one of the city’s most distinctive brown cafés with Delft tiles, an ornate iron heater and grumpy barmen. And homesick Australian expats and savvy locals head to Lot Sixty One Cafe (Kinkerstraat 112) for house roasted beans and coffee like they make at home.

Where to eat

Neni Amsterdam

With outposts in Berlin, Vienna, Hamburg, Zurich and Paris, the Molcho family has recently extended its formula of likeable Middle Eastern and eastern-Med sharing plates to Amsterdam. In a refitted car showroom in the emerging Stadium district, this cheerful restaurant-deli-bakery-bar attracts crowds for breakfast shakshuka, freshly baked challah and babka, and shared meals of mezze, sea bass chraime roasted in a central stone oven, and charcoal-grilled octopus with harissa.

Stadionplein 8,

Kaagman & Kortekaas

Tasting menus at this confident, centrally located bistro are a weekly snapshot of the seasonal Dutch pantry, and of chef Giel Kaagman’s enthusiasm for sustainable produce. He might team white asparagus with salty sea kale and samphire and tart sea buckthorn berries; or bright green-pea soup poured over a tea-smoked sausage of coalfish and a slice of foie gras. The chef’s personal approach is matched on the floor by host and sommelier Bram Kortekaas.

Sint Nicolaasstraat 43,

De Kas

Meals based on vegetables and herbs grown on-site and at a farm on Amsterdam’s outskirts are served beneath a soaring 1920s conservatory, once the city’s municipal nursery, in Frankendael Park, or outside in the herb garden in fine weather.

Kamerlingh Onneslaan 3,

Neni Amsterdam.

Far more useful than a bicycle is a City Card (24-120 hours) for unlimited free public transport across the city and free entrance to scores of its finest museums.

Getting there

Eurostar operates three direct high-speed rail services a day from London St Pancras International to Amsterdam. It takes 3hrs 41mins and costs from $65 one-way. Eurostar also connects Amsterdam with Brussels and Rotterdam.

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