One does not need to experiment with the drugs on offer in Amsterdam to experience the feeling of exhilaration and ecstasy generated from being in this liberal and exciting city. There is a sense of happiness that exudes from the relaxed people, the independent shops and unique character of the place. Cycling beside the canals in the sunshine, I felt completely carefree… with the beautiful scenery surrounding you, it is not unlike a scene from the Truman Show, so deliciously cheerful, especially when the sun is shining. I was enchanted by the assortment of independent shops, cafes and restaurants and the intriguing culture that Amsterdam has on offer. There is so much to discover and I felt I only got a taste when visiting for the weekend…all the more reason to return soon.
Eurostar – Though a plane ride to Amsterdam only takes 45 minutes the new Eurostar service is reasonable, easy and comfortable without the lengthy airport checks and hassles.
Best for lunch – American Hotel, sit in the sunshine and sip rose while enjoying the glorious surroundings at this elegant art deco hotel.
Best for high tea – Royal afternoon tea at Intercontinental Amstel Amsterdam is extravagant and indulgent in equal measure. Pretty cakes, delicately infused teas and scrumptious sandwiches… the most civilised way to spend the afternoon.
Best for high wine – the Dylan Hotel offers a unique take on afternoon tea with a delicious selection of wine and canapés tasters all perfectly matched.
Best club – Jimmy Woo is the club of the moment, fun music and cheap beer with a psychedelic floor downstairs to dance the night away.
Best bar – the Butcher is without doubt the coolest cocktail bar in Amsterdam… so chic and exclusive you must excuse the locals for not being in the know. This secret bar can be accessed only with a reservation and password given at a surreptitious door through a restaurant kitchen. If you are lucky enough to be let in, you can experience insanely inventive concoctions and juicy mini burgers.
Best coffee – Smashing Bean, a groovy little coffee bar located among the trendy nine lanes in the Jordaan shopping area. A huge variety of freshly roasted coffees are on offer as well as an array of tempting cakes. Sit and mingle with the artists.
The 9 lanes – some of the most lovely specialist shops I have ever visited. Antiques, clothes, food and much more… each one of a kind.
Best sweet shop – Party Pills: the ultra new and super fun rainbow sweet shop that offers personalised products, perfect for presents.
Best clothes shop – There are too many to choose from, but I particularly loved Second Female which offers casual nonchalant garments at reasonable prices.
Best Nail Art! – A must try for next time. If you are a nail art addict like me visit the eccentric Trash and Ready for a mad and magical manicure.
For clothes and cake – visit The Darling where tea parties are held teaching you to personalise your clothes while munching on cupcakes. Downstairs a cute boutique sells clothes and jewellery.
Tuchinsky Cinema – the Netherlands’ most beautiful art deco cinema, walk past and observe this building in its full grandeur.
Flower market – Walk through this colourful bazaar, and pick up a bunch of blooming sunflowers. It smells and looks charming.
Red Light District – Look but don’t touch… a world of neon lights and crude shows. Worth seeing if only for a moment.
Van Gogh Museum – the largest collection of Van Gogh’s work in the world… gives an insight into this troubled artist’s life and his exceptional output. Try to avoid visiting at weekends and definitely book ahead to avoid horrific queues.
Hermitage Gallery – this large minimalist venue is currently exhibiting an extensive Impressionist collection, and always has something interesting on offer.
Grand luxury – Sofitel Legend is a heavenly place to sleep and relax, located centrally, a luxurious palace.
Boutique luxury – The Dylan is the quirkiest and coolest boutique hotel, combining character with 5 star elegance and indulgence.
Canal boat tour – see the city by water on one of the many boat tours. I recommend an hour long trip so you can see all Amsterdam.
Hire bicycles for the day – there are more bikes than cars in Amsterdam which makes it the best and only way to travel. Ride in the idyllic sunshine over the canals and through the quaint streets.
I fell in love with this enchanting city, now I know how close it is to London, I will be sure to return again and again.