For a relatively small capital city, Amsterdam manages to tick all the epicurean boxes and then some. I hold an inordinate affection for Holland. Not only because I think it’s one of the most visually pleasing cities I’ve ever been to, but also because of its wealth of sophistication, unambiguous culture and humbled disposition.

My first visit to Amsterdam was ten years ago, and my experience then was vastly different to the city I know now. As a tourist passing through, I was privy only to the Red Light District and a coffee shop that went by the name of “The Bulldog”. In recent years, I have become acquainted with an entirely different side to the Netherlands’ capital, which many tourists miss. And the reason for this is that the Dutch like it that way. The residents seldom visit the touristic areas, and remain happy the tourists rarely visit theirs; this is how they remain as charming as they are, by not being overloaded with sightseers and the string of effects that come with them – souvenirs, memorabilia, crowds.

With a pedigree native by my side, I experienced Amsterdam in its rawest form. I fell in love with Negen Straatjes, which true to its name is nine little streets filled with boutique shops and restaurants. I enjoyed the Jordaan, which is home to many art galleries and is dotted with chic cafes and markets. I rode on the back of a bike along the picturesque canals and admired the 17th and 18th century Dutch architecture, which resembles small toy houses and lines the water like eyelashes.

I sampled raw herring, a typically Dutch snack served with salt, raw onions and pickles, and for breakfast I had hagelslag – chocolate sprinkles (the type you would usually find on a cake) spread over my bread. I have spent treasured time with the Dutch, who are some of the friendliest, clever and candid people I have ever come across and I took photos, and photos, and photos…




Those with a penchant for lobster and beef should make Restaurant Red top of their Amsterdam itinerary. The surf ‘n’ turf concept is straightforward enough: opt for the steak served with homemade béarnaise sauce or the lobster drizzled in beurre du chef (that’s chef’s butter to you and I). If you are a lover of both land and sea option then try the duo, which is cooked to perfection and complemented by tasty French fries. While the model is simple, the experience is nothing short of memorable. Located in a house that overlooks one of the city’s most beautiful canals, Keizersgracht, Red’s ambience is something the Dutch might describe as gezellig (cosy and intimate). The waiters are attentive, the wine flows freely and the prices are reasonable for such a fine experience.

/ Where

Keizersgracht 594, 1017 EN

/ Phone

+31 20 320 1824

/ Online

 door 74 2


When you finally navigate your way to this little hidden gem all those wrong turns will seep into the background and you’ll be glad you made the effort. The first speakeasy-style cocktail bar in The Netherlands, Door 74 boasts all the essential ingredients for a bona fide hit: hidden door, antique barware, chic atmosphere and unique drinking concoctions. First-timers should be warned that there are some fairly tight house rules imposed by the staff who consider the digs their second home: no screaming; no hitting on other guests; and no hats. Above all, they encourage you to slide on in to one of the plush sofas, bask in the dim lighting and order yourself a drink. The ‘Gimme a Mejiso’ made from Choya Plum wine, fresh lemon, lapsang souchon tea syrup and fresh shiso leaf is a personal favourite. Just make sure you phone ahead to make a reservation.

/ Where

shhh it’s a hidden bar near Rembrandt Square

/ Phone

+31 63 404 5122

/ Online



In the epicentre of Amsterdam’s museum precinct, the Conservatorium Hotel stands on the well-known site of the city’s former Sweelinck Conservatory of Music. Opened in 2011, the striking Neo-Gothic building is beautifully complemented by the modern design of Italian architect, Piero Lissoni. Surrounded by the popular Jordaan neighbourhood, the Conservatorium’s location is prime given its proximity to shopping avenue P.C. Hooftstraat and a string of museums and galleries. Housing 129 bedrooms and suites that feature high ceilings, generous windows and gorgeous views, another lavish bonus is the restaurants and bars onsite. Head to the Conservatorium Brasserie & Lounge for all day dining in a beautiful internal courtyard or pop into the Tunes Bar for a pre-dinner cocktail or some tasty tapas. The hotel is also home to one of Amsterdam’s finest retreats, the Akasha spa, where you can enjoy a day of holistic massages, beauty treatments, a spot of yoga and a dip in the relaxing whirlpool.

/ Where

Van Baerlestraat 27, 1071 AN

/ Phone

+31 20 570 0000

/ Online