I won’t ramble on too much as this post is a long one! So grab a cuppa, and enjoy this little city snapshot of the places to stay, eat, drink and shop, in my Amsterdam travel guide.
As we were traveling in a large group, accommodation that was suited to all tastes was required, and in the end we went on a recommendation of the Hilton Double Tree at Centraal Station. It was ideally located for arriving from the airport to Centraal Station, check in was quick and efficient and you even get a warm cookie on arrival – they know the way to my heart anyway. The hotel itself was well, massive! Very clean and modern too, and we were also fortunate enough to have a city view room. As you can see, it was really quite something to wake up to each morning! The hotel was also in a prime location for exploring the city, being no more than a half an hour’s walk from anywhere you could want to go, meaning we had an additional saving in not taking the tram anywhere even once. I definitely realised afterwards how huge a portion of your spending money can be spent just traveling within a city, so it was great to have the few extra euros to spend on…I’m not gonna lie, to spend on chocolate waffles! More on that later 😉
If I was returning to Amsterdam (and I fully intend to), I would also love to stay in Hotel V, (which we also visited for breakfast – more below) or the Lloyd Hotel, both of which have fantastic reviews and really cool design too.
Metropolitan Deli, Warmoesstraat 135A
So as mentioned above, if you like sweet waffles (and if you don’t then… I think we should see other people), then Amsterdam is the place for you! They are sold at every turn, and even the hardiest and strong willed among us would not resist! We stumbled upon the most gorgeous dessert shop named “Metropolitan” – this place had nothing but waffles, chocolate and sweet treats as far as the eye could see, with my personal favourites being the giant meringues, the red velvet cupcakes and of course sweet waffles with Nutella sauce and white chocolate… *drool*. I was delighted to see they even sold the Nutella sauce along with bagged treats and sweets and even chocolate soaps, chocolate shower gel and chocolate beer (we didn’t have high hopes for that last one!). I brought home a jar of the sauce – it is so so good, I would literally put it on my dinner. Nutella pasta tonight anyone?
And then there was brunch. We happened upon two of the most gorgeous brunch places ever, I genuinely felt so lucky. I say happened upon, but really I am super organised and annoying when it comes to holidays but in the end it always pays off. There is nothing worse than wandering around in large group, aimlessly looking for a place that you’ll all like and in the end you get so hungry you pick the first place you see and it’s, well, crap. Can you tell this is a pet peeve of mine? Fail to prepare, prepare to fail in the dog eat dog world of holidays, that’s what I say.. Clearly my brain is in my belly!
Paper Planes, Rokin 81
First up it was Paper Planes. I’ll just lay it out there – best pancakes I’ve ever had! For realz, when I can I go back? They were the perfect mix of savoury and sweet, soft and yet crisp on the outside with mouth-watering maple syrup and vanilla bean mascarpone as an accompaniment. Just…perfection! My partner in crime had eggs on brioche toast, with lamb sausages and baked beans. I’m not one for sausages normally but the lamb was just beautiful, and not at all like the greasy, watery fare you normally get! I was all set for round 2 on our last day with the rest of the gang, but the restaurant was too busy to accommodate us – I think I shed a tear, I was that disappointed!! Clearly news of the fabulous food at Paper Planes has spread, and rightly so!
The Lobby at the Hotel V, Nes 49
On day two we enjoyed a relaxing and delicious breakfast at The Lobby at the Hotel V, located just off Dam Square. I ventured out of my comfort zone on this, as I always tend to treat myself with the sweeter options when dining out for brunch. This time I opted for eggs royale, a mix of poached eggs, hollandaise sauce and smoked salmon, on brioche bread topped with spinach – an inclusion that completely justified the waffle that followed, right?! It was utterly delectable and our surroundings were equally as nice – modeled in the style of a gentleman’s club with burnished leather furnishing, bookcases stacked with vintage tomes and a beautiful wooden bar stacked with every spirit imaginable, I loved it!
We also enjoyed two beautiful dinners: first in CAU, also located on of the adjoining streets to Dam Square on Damstraat 5. We were served possibly thee nicest steak ever, with the added bonus of truffle mac & cheese and sweet potato on the side – heavenly! I happily would have eaten here the second night, as would my traveling companions. But by then, after a few days of red meat and fried food, we were in the mood for something a little lighter . Tapas was the order of the day and we were lucky to find a gem of a spot called Pata Negra, on the Utrechtstraat 124. Again, I did my research and found this came up trumps out of all the tapas places in the city. The reviews did not let me down. Although it looks a little run down, don’t let the rustic exterior fool you – this place is absolutely buzzing with great food and a great atmosphere. It was entirely authentic tapas and with a little guidance from the lovely staff on the Spanish menu, we navigated our way to full tummies once again. I happily would have stayed for the night, with drinks and conversation flowing, Spanish music filling the room and the staff up having a dance too – this was a thoroughly enjoyable evening out.
Thankfully this particular information centre was not required at any point, but I thought it might be useful for you to know about it when planning a trip 😉
All The Luck In The World, Gerard Doustraat 86hs
I was annoying the fella enough by dragging him in to so many shops, so I didn’t want to stop and take loads of pictures too! But trust me, if you go exploring you wouldn’t need a particular guide to find quirky concept stores, like All The Luck in The World in De Pijp, which you can see above. Shops like this are everywhere, particularly if you venture to the southern part of the city to De Pjip and Utrechtstraat. On the later you will also find a really impressive array of restaurants, so if you are one to leave your dining to chance, I would go here!
Anna + Nina, Kloveniersburgwal 44 and Gerard Doustraat 94
However one shop I would definitely recommend is the stunning Anna + Nina. With two locations in the Dam and filled to the brim with wonderfully curious curiosities and kooky homewares, you would be mad not to pay a visit! I wanted the entire contents, especially that white ceramic pineapple. Plus look at that wallpaper – no wonder I ventured in!
Unfortunately the dream pineapple had to be left behind (damn you baggage restriction!), but I did pick up this little star ornament for my Christmas tree as a memento.
And of course, if like me you are from Ireland there are a number of stores in the central city that we are not lucky enough to have on our high street – namely Weekday, Monki, & Other Stories and H&M home. These are well worth a visit anyway, but especially since we don’t have them in Dublin!
Having been nearly been run over about fifteen times by cyclists, topped with walking square into a PARKED bike, I was very wary when a bike tour of the city was suggested as a group activity. I rationalised that it would be me doing the running over this time so maybe it would be ok, and low and behold, it was one the most enjoyable holiday experiences I’ve ever had, and an ideal way to see this beautiful city. We booked with Yellow Bike Tours, who were incredibly professional, provided us with a wonderful guide and had some pretty darn cute yellow bikes too (who’d have thunk it eh?). The tour itself was the perfect balance of cycling, enjoying the sights and the feeling of the wind rushing through your hair, and stopping to hear the history of a number of places. Highlights were Anne Frank’s house, the Rjiksmuseum, the Vondelpark, Leidseplein and the Red Light District. Amsterdam is so varied in it’s culture, and the seamless transition between the old and the new is really quite something. I’m really glad we got to see it this way – it really emphasised how much there is to see and do here, and how much the old city is embracing the new. A few hairy moments in the traffic did not dampen what was a wonderful two hours – well worth every penny and tram-related heart attack!
We ran out of time to do any of the museums unfortunately, but I will be back for that, you mark my words! Four days are easily filled with quiet wandering around this city. There is so much beauty in Amsterdam, strengthened only by the most wonderful culture and people. Fill your belly, peruse the shops and meander along the canals to your heart’s content. I thoroughly enjoyed my trip to the Dutch city, and I if you are going any time soon, I hope this guide serves you well!
Until next time! xx