For a room with a view, the Seven Bridges Hotel overlooks the city’s prettiest and most photographed canal, the Reguliersgracht with its row of seven little bridges, and the uniquely designed bedrooms are packed with antiques (double bedrooms from £80, www.sevenbridgeshotel.nl).
If you’re on a tighter budget, the CitizenM hotel is a chic and purse-friendly option. Ideally situated in the centre of Amsterdam, the hotel was awarded the accolade of the Trendiest Hotel in the World earlier this year in the TripAdvisor Traveller’s Choice awards. The hotel has hi-tech rooms with touchscreen MoodPads allowing you to control everything in your room from the temperature to television, and LED lights to sav energy, (double bedroom prices start from £65, www.citizenmamsterdamcity.com).
If you want to know more about the history of Judaism in the Netherlands, visit the Joods Historisch Museum (www.jhm.nl) in the Old Jewish Quarter. Housed in four former synagogues, the museum is packed with artifacts and there is a great children’s wing with interactive exhibits that will keep them amused for hours.
Art buffs will adore the Rijksmuseum (www.rijksmuseum.nl) and Van Gogh Museum (www.vangoghmuseum.nl). Despite the former currently undergoing a €227m refurbishment, there are still 400 masterpieces on display, including pieces by Rembrandt, Vermeer and Hals. Cycling is the most popular way of getting around Amsterdam and bike rentals are everywhere, so hire a bike and head to Vondelpark, the largest green space in Amsterdam, or cycle along one of the prettiest
waterways in the city, the Prinsengracht canals.
If you fancy exploring at a slower pace, stroll around the canals and explore the arty areas of the Museum Quarter, the Jordaan and the Pijp. Churches are a signifi cant part of Dutch life. Visit the city’s oldest church, the Oude Kerk built in the mid-1500s or for a more Zen approach, visit the Chinese Fo Guang Shan He Hua Buddhist Temple at Zeedijk.
If you love to shop, Amsterdam has an eclectic mix of stores. Head to De Negen Straatjes for designer boutiques and vintage shops or Pieter Cornelisz Hoofstraat in the Museum Quarter where you’ll fi nd the likes of Chanel, Gucci and Louis Vuitton. If you prefer market shopping, visit one of Amsterdam’s fl ea markets. Albert Cuypmarkt is one of the biggest and best, selling everything from smoked eel (a speciality in Amsterdam) to clothes and cosmetics.
For something a bit different, try the College Restaurant, set in the boutique College Hotel (www.thecollegerestaurant.nl). The restaurant, true to its namesake, is set in a former school, and is also the home of the ROC Amsterdam Hotel Management School, so the whole place is run by hotel trainees and apprentice chefs. However, the food – traditional Dutch cuisine with a twist – is executed with a precision far beyond their years, with delicious dishes such as smoked eel with radish and apple syrup and Dutch apple pie gracing the menu.
Continuing with the unusual theme, De Kas (www.restaurantdekas.nl) is a beautiful restaurant set in a greenhouse in Frankendael Park. The owner, Gert Jan Hageman, grows all the vegetables and herbs for the daily changing menu, with lovely fresh dishes such as smoked halibut with celeriac ravioli and sweet-pea sprouts.
No visit to Amsterdam is complete without a pancake, so indulge your sweet (or savoury) tooth and hotfoot it to the best pancake house in Amsterdam, the Pancake Bakery (www.pancake.nl). Located in a 17th century warehouse a few minutes’ walk from Anne Frank’s House, there’s a huge array of toppings, from cinnamon ice cream and whipped cream to lamb and tzatziki.
There’s also a good tram network, a small underground and plenty of buses to take you around the city. Purchase a GVB pass when you arrive (available at all major train stations), for unlimited travel on trams, the underground, buses and night buses.
By Fiona Forman