FOOD AND DRINK
For special occasions, my favourite place is . Adjacent to the Rijksmuseum, the Michelin-star restaurant has sleek interiors designed by my friend Paul Linse. Jansz. at the Pulitzer hotel has great food, great cocktails and a great location on the corner of Keizersgracht (with views over the canal) and Reestraat, one of the Nine Streets (De Negen Straatjes).
Compact and stylish, is a celebrated cocktail bar and next door is , ideal for foodies who want a first-rate five- or seven-course dinner. For sausage and schnitzel, there is nowhere better than , and for the best seafood, go to in the fashionable De Pijp neighbourhood south of the city centre. But my favourite place — particularly for lunch — is . Just around the corner from my office, it specialises in healthy, wholesome food and the owner Odette Rigterink has now opened a B&B, too (see Accommodation).
The area known as the Nine Streets is the best place to start any shopping trip in Amsterdam. This vibrant, village-like hub crisscrosses the main canals in the heart of the old town and offers numerous shops and designer boutiques, including: for eyewear; Mendo, a beautiful bookshop; and , owned by my Swedish friend Ulrika Lundgren, who has her own fashion label with simple, stylish, everyday clothes.
South of the Nine Streets, in the area near my office on Eerste Weteringdwatraat, are two of my favourite shops, both on Prinsengracht: , for spectacular chandeliers; and , which specialises in curious home accessories as well as vintage furniture, Fortuny fabrics and fragrances.
Nearby, too, on Nieuwe Spiegelstraat, is , one of the leading Dutch dealers in antique jewellery and silver, whose work I adore. A little further on is , which sells exquisite homemade chocolates.
For bikes — after all, Amsterdam is as much about cycling as it is about canals — is the coolest bicycle shop in town, and it ships to the UK.
If you are heading north from the Nine Streets, en route to Noordermarkt, the most fashionable of Amsterdam’s farmers’ and antique markets (open on Saturdays and Mondays), pop in to Like Stationery for pens, notepads and paper. For flowers, there is nowhere better than , which is only a few minutes’ walk – or bicycle ride – from , a lovely, laid-back shop that sells sustainable fashion, furniture, ceramics and accessories.
My friend Odette opened her first restaurant in 1998. Now, nearly 20 years later, she has relocated twice, ending up at Prinsengracht 598 and has expanded the concept to include , a couple of minutes’ walk away on Lijnbaansgracht. Up a steep flight of stairs, there are two bedrooms, the Wetering Suite and the Wisteria Suite (€200 and €275 a night, based on a minimum two-night stay), designed in collaboration with Amsterdam’s best stylists to create a pared-back, serene, light-filled environment of neutral shades and simple furnishings. There is a small kitchen, so you can prepare your own breakfast, or pop round to for delicious coffee and pastries.
While there is plenty of culture to keep anyone busy in Amsterdam, I beg people not to miss Ons’ , a stunning seventeenth-century Catholic chapel built in the attic of a uniquely preserved Dutch Golden Age town house. There is a museum and a small café there, too.
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