TRAVEL

If you haven’t vis­ited since your gap-year Eurotrip, the Dutch cap­i­tal is ea­ger to show off its grown-up side

Sharp - - CONTENTS - BY BIANCA TEIX­EIRA

How Am­s­ter­dam has rein­vented it­self as a mod­ern, un­de­ni­ably grownup de­sign cap­i­tal.

THE NETHER­LANDS’ CAP­I­TAL knows how to strike a bal­ance be­tween the ro­man­tic and edgy sides of Europe. On the one hand, its pic­turesque canals are bor­dered with or­nate, charm­ingly nar­row her­itage homes dat­ing back to the 17th cen­tury. On the other, the city’s mis­chievous red-light district and vi­brant cannabis cul­ture en­sure there’s no real over­lap with that other, sleepier canal town, Venice. And while Am­s­ter­dam’s ap­petite for vices may make it a pop­u­lar des­ti­na­tion for col­lege so­journs and bach­e­lor par­ties, there are plenty of ways to cut through the smoke and en­joy a slightly more ma­ture — but not too ma­ture — Dutch voy­age.

STAY: W Am­s­ter­dam

Merg­ing a 1920s tele­phone switch­board fa­cil­ity with a 1906 bank, this 238room ho­tel is packed with bold mod­ern flour­ishes that ref­er­ence the for­mer iden­ti­ties of the his­toric build­ings. Brass tubes in­stalled along the ceil­ings evoke blinged-out phone ca­bles, cas­cad­ing down to cre­ate dra­matic room di­viders in the rooftop lounge bar and jut­ting out to form light fix­tures in the guest rooms. WAMSTERDAM.COM

EAT: Volt

A mu­ral on the wall of this gas­tropub fea­tures a gen­tle­man pho­tograph­ing a tutu-ed bal­le­rina with an early da­guerreo­type cam­era. Pull up a seat at the bar and maybe you’ll en­counter a Dutch dancer who needs ad­vice on the right an­gle for her In­sta­gram. Even if not, you’ll still en­joy clas­sic bar fare served with con­sid­er­able grace. The sig­na­ture Rusten-burger is a mas­ter­piece com­plete with ba­con and fried onions, and eclec­tic brews fea­ture notes of honey, caramel and even Szechuan pep­per. RESTAURANTVOLT.COM

Bar Mous­tache

This café’s wood­burn­ing oven and pen­chant for rich Ital­ian in­gre­di­ents make it easy to stum­ble upon — just fol­low the smell of truf­fle pizza. Once in­side, vin­tage bistro seats ar­ranged against a back­drop of ex­posed brick and rus­tic wood es­tab­lish a warm at­mos­phere. Apart from the piz­zas, the goat cheese ravi­oli is an­other stand­out. (The se­cret in­gre­di­ent? Morel mush­rooms.) BARMOUSTACHE.NL

DRINK: Café Hoppe

Op­er­at­ing from its Spui Square lo­ca­tion since 1670, this sto­ried bar is the per­fect place to master the tra­di­tional Dutch toast. (The word you’re look­ing for is “proost.”) Aged bar­rels along the walls re­flect the busi­ness’ long run, and bar­tenders are happy to re­gale you with tales of their most es­teemed pa­trons. (Among them, Her Royal High­ness Queen Beatrix.) Wash down a plate of deep-fried bit­ter­ballen meat­balls with a glass of gin’s smoky an­ces­tor, jen­ever. CAFEHOPPE.COM

Bar Lem­picka

Ta­mara de Lem­picka was a Pol­ish painter who cap­tured the glam­our of the Roar­ing Twen­ties in can­vases that quickly be­came favourites

of the aris­toc­racy. Who bet­ter, then, to theme a buzzy brasserie around? In keep­ing with the artist’s art deco style, gold ac­cents abound at this cen­tral hot spot spe­cial­iz­ing in Pro­hi­bi­tion-era cock­tails. Not in the mood for a time warp? Opt for a seat on the wrap­around pa­tio over­look­ing the Am­s­tel River. BARLEMPICKA.COM

VISIT: The Heineken Ex­pe­ri­ence

Take a pil­grim­age to the hal­lowed grounds where Heineken brewed the first batch of Hol­land’s best-known pil­sner. Opened in 1867, the brewer’s orig­i­nal fa­cil­ity is now home to a beer lover’s Dis­ney­land. (Case in point: there are holo­grams in­volved.) Ma­jes­tic cop­per mash tuns hold court in the Grand Cen­tral Sta­tion-es­que brew room. HEINEKENEXPERIENCE.COM

Ri­jksmu­seum

The cul­tural cen­tre of Am­s­ter­dam is Mu­seum Square, a gi­ant grass field bor­dered by three mu­se­ums. Our vote’s for the Ri­jksmu­seum, a gallery of Dutch art and his­tory. The more than one mil­lion ob­jects on dis­play run the gamut from Re­nais­sance-era ta­pes­tries to 19th-cen­tury ship mod­els. Of course, the paint­ings — think Van Gogh’s

Self-por­trait and Rem­brandt’s The Night Watch — are the true high­light. RI­JKSMU­SEUM.NL

SHOP: Al­bert Cuyp Mar­ket

Europe’s big­gest day mar­ket boasts some 300-plus stalls. Ar­rive with an ap­petite for fruit and cheeses, then stock up on hand­crafted leather goods. An­other ac­qui­si­tion to make room for in your carry-on: stroop­wafels. The Dutch treats sand­wich caramel syrup be­tween two waf­fle cook­ies. The ones be­ing baked here are the orig­i­nals — and the best. ALBERTCUYP-MARKT. AM­S­TER­DAM

X Bank

If it’s de­signed in the Nether­lands and it’s cool, it’s on dis­play at this su­per-hip con­cept shop. The ground floor is ded­i­cated to ro­tat­ing art ex­hi­bi­tions, while the top level is the city’s ul­ti­mate site for se­ri­ous re­tail ther­apy. A di­verse se­lec­tion of denim, bomber jack­ets, and sneak­ers draws from es­tab­lished brands like streetwear kings Scotch & Soda and fresh up-and-com­ers like Newd Stu­dios. XBANK.AM­S­TER­DAM

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