Amsterdam Guide

Laid-back, hip and oozing natural cool, Amsterdam offers a wholesome lifestyle with an edge...

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Where to Stay in Amsterdam

Visiting, rock-stars and royalty (including the Rolling Stones, Bono, Jennifer Aniston, George Clooney and no fewer than 53 crowned heads for Prince Willem and Princess Maxima’s 2002 wedding) check into the Amstel (Professor Tulpplein 1; +31 20 6226060), the luxurious Intercontinental dubbed the most prestigious place to stay in the Netherlands. Others prefer the smaller and altogether more intimate boutique hotels tucked away between the city’s canals. For many years, the ultra-glam Anouska Hempel-designed five star The Dylan on Keizersgracht was the hot favourite. With its Fendi sofas and model-like staff, it’s a regular for high-profilers in search of discretion and privacy like lovebirds Jessica Biel and Justin Timberlake. A newcomer on Keizersgracht this year is the hip Canal House (Keizersgracht 148; +31 20 6225182), an old-world hotel jazzed up by the Curious Group.

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Where to Eat in Amsterdam

Amsterdam is packed with so-called 'post-modern', hip, urban eateries where businessmen, powerbrokers and off-duty models like to chew on organic meals. Trademark signs? Plenty of light, that 'industrial meets sophistication look' and original menus featuring innovative concepts. A hot favourite is the new Hotel de Goudfazant (confusingly a restaurant and not a hotel) which attracts the in-crowd looking for a scenic riverside spot to eat alfresco. Another address to know is Nevy (Westerdoksdijk 14; +31 20 3446409) where Brit Michelin-starred chef Tom Aitken recently wowed the city’s hip young things. The waterside fish restaurant is known for its 'boost brunches’ guaranteed to blow cobwebs or hangovers away. For a new concept, The Culinaire Werkplaats (Fannius Scholtenstraat 10; +31 20 6 54646576) is a design studio, workshop, restaurant, cooking studio, bakery and gallery. To try some local recipes (like smoked eel), head to the cool brasserie Keyzer (Van Baerlestraat 96; +31 20 6751866) or Café van Puffeln (Prinsengracht 375-377; +31 20 6246270) where it’s all about the herring salad. For homegrown organic goodies, try De Kas Restaurant and Nursery (Kamerlingh Onneslaan 3; +31 20 4624562), a glass conservatory home to Michelin-starred chef Gert Jan Hageman. And don’t miss an Indonesian meal at Tempo Doeloe(Utrechtsestraat 75; +31 20 6256718) or Blue Pepper (Nassaukade 366; +31 20 4897039), a local speciality from the old colonies.

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Where to Go Out in Amsterdam

The city has its nightlife classics like the SupperClub (Jonge Roelensteeg 21; +31 20 3446400). The first of its kind, the staple night spot still seduces with its DJs, offbeat entertainment and risqué scene. To mingle with the Dutch footballers, WAGs and visiting glitterati like Naomi Campbell, P Diddy or Mick Jagger, try the red burgundy vision that is ClubNL (Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal 169; +31 20 6227510) or Jimmy Woo’s (Korte Leidse dwarsstraat 18; +31 20 6263150), another late-night haunt. For something more low-key, find sanctuary in the boutique Hotel Vondel (Vondelstraat 18-30; +31 20 6120120) or Hotel Roemer’s gorgeous garden patios (Roemer Visscherstraat 10; +31 20 5890800). With its exposed brick, striped velour walls and canalside tables, the Herengracht Food Drinks Art (Herengracht 435; +31 20 616 2482) is a local favourite.

Where to Shop in Amsterdam

In the hip neighbourhood of Jordaan, the Moooi Gallery (Westerstraat 187; +31 20 5287760) is a must-see. An amazing furniture store (which is also stocked at Liberty’s in London), it’s a designer’s dream come true showcasing the doyen of interior design, Marcel Wanders. For more avant-garde work, designers' collective Droog (Staalstraat 7b; +31 20 5235059) will leave you with a serious case of home decorating envy with pieces by Chris Kabel and Hella Jongerius.

For unique boutiques, vintage finds and designers names like Dries van Noten, Martin Margiela, Dirk Bikkembergs and Ann Demeulemeester, head for the 9 Straatjes(between Leidsestraat and Raadhuisstraat), named after the nine side streets connecting the main canals. This is also the place for natural cosmetics from Aesop, Philosophy and Ren at the Skins Cosmetics Lounge (Runstraat 11; +31 20 5286922), saucy lingerie from Stout (Berenstraat 9) or a rainbow of kitchenware at What’s Cooking? (Reestraat 16; +31 20 4270630). Also in the same area, PC Hooftstraat (Jacob van Lennepkade 334-G; +31 614974590) with Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Chanel has become a designer lover’s mecca. For the next big thing, check the Fashion Institute’s own clothing shop, Individuals (Mauritskade 11), where every six months a select group of fashion students present their new collections.

If it’s a department store you want, stop by De Bijenkorf on Dam Square. Amsterdam’s most famous shop dates back to 1870 and stocks a mixture of big-name fashion brands and Dutch high street names. Pop by the fifth-floor chill-out zone where kitsch and clubwear reign supreme.

What to Wear in Amsterdam

Think tall, leggy blondes. Uber-hip, fresh-faced models like Aggy Dean lookalike Milou Van Groesen, Marique Schimmel, Janneke van den Bosch and Victoria’s Secret’s famous Doutzen Kroes all have that distinctive lowlands glow. As for dress code, it’s casual cool with a little tomboy and plenty of attitude.

Don't Leave Amsterdam Without

If clogs, wooden tulips and windmill replicas aren’t your thing, head to Thinking of Holland in the central station. Original, contemporary Dutch design and gifts of all brands from Royal Goedewaagen, Studio Job, Tord Boontje, Scholten & Baijings and the adorable ‘Nijntje’ rabbit by Dick Bruna. You’ll love the Krejci tea towels featuring Dutch icons or Lotte van Laatum's tulip vase, as well as the unique jewellery range. At Blond (Gerard Doustraat 69; +31 20 4284929), indulge in a little kitsch. The boutique owners Femque and Janneke who launched Blond Amsterdam in the De Pijp district love all things cooky and quirky, from pink painted teapots to mugs and notebooks or quilts. For something chic and durable, Hester van Eeghen (Hartenstraat 37; +31 20 6269212) is the place to go for lovely leather gloves, purses, wallets, bags and shoes.

Beauty SOS – Where to Go for Pampering in Amsterdam

When Paris Hilton was in town she entrusted her locks to Rob Peetoom (Elandsgracht 68; +31 20 5285722), a famous hair salon where the city’s beautiful people head for pampering, while Salon B (Willemsparkweg 30; +31 20 6762901) are the creative team behind the model’s manes at Roberto Cavalli, Christian Dior, Yves Saint Laurent andViktor & Rolf during Amsterdam International Fashion Week. For a natural facial in zen surroundings, Zuiver (Dutch for ‘pure’) at the heart of the Amsterdam Forest is the perfect escape. As for toe nibbling, leave it to Dr Fish (Van Baerlestraat 45; +31 88 1301301).

?Amsterdam trip sorted? For ELLEuk's introduction to the chic Catalan capital, check out our Barcelona guide. Or see all our travel guides.

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