THE HIGH LIFE IN AMSTERDAM

This win­ter, there’s a slew of hol­i­day hap­pen­ings, so get on your bike, as Am­s­ter­dammers do, and check out our list of the city’s most in­trigu­ing at­trac­tions, com­piled by Amy Laugh­ing­house

The Press and Journal (Highlands & Islands) - - Contents -

Five-star lux­ury. Cre­ative cui­sine. In­no­va­tive fash­ion and de­sign. These aren’t the sort of en­tice­ments that typ­i­cally spring to mind when you think of Amsterdam, which is bet­ter known for its Red Light dis­trict and “cof­fee shops” that sell mood en­hancers con­sid­er­ably stronger than es­presso.

But the city is mak­ing an ef­fort to leave its racy rep­u­ta­tion be­hind and lure tourists with a taste for a dif­fer­ent sort of “high life.” Over the past decade, Amsterdam has in­vested 10bil­lion euro in cul­tural of­fer­ings, in­clud­ing ren­o­va­tions to the Van Gogh Mu­seum, the St­edelijk Mu­seum of mod­ern art, and the Ri­jksmu­seum, home of Rem­brandt’s mas­ter­piece The Night Watch.

To­day, the Nether­lands’ cap­i­tal en­com­passes 44 mu­se­ums, 55 the­atres and per­for­mance halls, and more than 1,300 restau­rants ca­pa­ble of sa­ti­at­ing the most rav­en­ous at­tack of the munchies. New cafes and bistros seem to spring up like magic mush­rooms overnight, and even al­ley­ways are get­ting a makeover.

Here’s a taste of what’s go­ing on this win­ter:

FANCY FEASTS

For­get hash brown­ies. Amsterdam’s foodie scene is a culi­nary con­stel­la­tion of so­phis­ti­ca­tion these days. At the De­cem­ber 12 launch of the 2017 Miche­lin Guide to the Nether­lands, Amsterdam earned three new stars – one each for Bole­nius, Mos, and Ri­jks – bring­ing the city’s to­tal stars to 21.

For su­perb seafood, check out the one-star Bridges at Sof­i­tel leg­end The Grand Amsterdam. For veg­gie-cen­tric fare with flair, try Vork & Mes, which Miche­lin dubs “a par­tic­u­larly pleas­ant res­tau­rant”, or wrap your tongue around the “flex­i­tar­ian” vict­uals at Swych, a new res­tau­rant at Amsterdam’s old­est ho­tel, The Doe­len.

www. bole­nius- res­tau­rant. nl, www.mosam­s­ter­dam.nl, www.ri­jk­srestau­rant. www.bridges­restau­rant.nl/en/, www.vorken­mes.nl/en-GB, www.swych.nl/en/

JOR­DAAN FOOD TOUR

Com­bine an ap­petite for ar­chi­tec­ture, his­tory and tra­di­tional nib­bles which em­brace the savoury con­tri­bu­tions of the Nether­lands’ erst­while colonies on an Eat­ing Amsterdam walk­ing tour of the hip Jor­daan neigh­bour­hood. You’ll visit eight pro­pri­etors, who dole out Dutch treats like puffy pof­fer­t­jes pan­cakes, her­ring, baka bana (fried plan­tain with sa­tay sauce from Suri­nam), deep-fried bit­ter­ballen washed down with a lo­cal brew, and mouth-wa­ter­ing ap­ple pie from a fam­ily- run café favoured by for­mer US Pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton.

Guide Jelte VanKop­eren en­sures you get your fill of in­ter­est­ing facts, as well. He ex­plains, for in­stance, that canal houses lean for­ward by a fewde­grees to make them look taller – not be­cause drunken builders had in­dulged in too many pints of In­dia Pale Ale, which, as Van Kop­eren can tell you, orig­i­nated with Dutch mer­chantswhoad­ded ex­tra hops to their beer to keep it fresh on jour­neys to In­dia.

www.eatingam­s­ter­dam­tours.com

A’DAM TOWER

The A’DAM Tower, which opened in May across the IJ River from Amsterdam Cen­tral train sta­tion, of­fers an un­ex­pected newway to get high – lit­er­ally. The tower’s rooftop ter­race, Look­out, boasts 360 de­gree views, but the main at­trac­tion is a pair of metal swings that ex­tend over the edge of the build­ing. As your legs dan­gle nearly 330 feet in the sky, there’s noth­ing but air be­tween you and the city be­low. Gulp!

You’re go­ing to need a drink af­ter that, and for­tu­nately, A’DAM Tower is not short on op­tions. Sip on a cock­tail fromMadam as you ex­plore cool mul­ti­me­dia ex­hibits about Amsterdam, re­serve a ta­ble atMoon re­volv­ing res­tau­rant, or head toThe Butcher So­cialClub on the ground floor, which serves “bloody de­li­cious burg­ers” in a loun­ge­like at­mos­phere kit­ted out with a bil­liard ta­ble, pin­ball ma­chines and video games.

If you don’t want to wob­ble back across the river af­ter­wards, book a room at the just-launched SirA­damho­tel. It’s got a chic, min­i­mal­ist aes­thetic and a mu­sic theme which ex­tends from a “disco el­e­va­tor” to in-room records and turnta­bles and a “room ser­vice menu” of gui­tars which you can play dur­ing your stay.

http://adamtoren.nl

PULITZER AMSTERDAM

In Septem­ber, the Pulitzer Amsterdam – a 225 room, five-star ho­tel flanked by the Prin­sen­gracht and Keiz­ers­gracht canals – emerged like a but­ter­fly from an 18-month co­coon of ren­o­va­tion. Housed within a luxe labyrinth of 25 in­ter­con­nected 17th-cen­tury build­ings, the prop­erty oc­cu­pies an en­vi­able po­si­tion in the Nine Streets, a neigh­bour­hood packed with one-of-a-kind bou­tiques and restau­rants.

Jacu Strauss – whose re­cent projects in­clude the Mon­drian London in the old Sea Con­tain­ers build­ing along the Thames – over­saw the top-to-toe trans­for­ma­tion, cre­at­ing a clever mix of mod­ern art and an­tiques that pays homage to Amsterdam’s his­tory. In lieu of a chan­de­lier, the new dou­ble-height en­trance fea­tures a grand pi­ano sus­pended from the ceil­ing, in recog­ni­tion of a clas­si­cal con­cert the ho­tel co-spon­sors each year. In the lobby, mas­sive wooden ceil­ing beams and re­cep­tion desks en­cased in Delft tiles ac­com­pany swathes of vel­vet drapes and sleek up­hol­stered so­fas, a nod to the riches wrought dur­ing Amsterdam’s Golden Age of trade. New glass hall­ways con­nect the two main wings, of­fer­ing views on to a quar­tet of court­yard gar­dens.

The Pulitzer has also in­tro­duced a ca­sual café, Pause, and the el­e­gant Jansz, pro­vid­ing fine-din­ing through­out the day. Pulitzer’s Bar is dark and se­duc­tive, with Per­sian rugs, cosy seat­ing and book­shelves filled with an­tique leather tomes.

Ev­ery room is dif­fer­ent, al­though each in­cludes thought­ful touches like a bi­cy­cle re­pair kit, a spe­cially-de­signed desk that con­verts into a dress­ing ta­ble, an­da­wood­en­head­board­whosesil­hou­ette echoes Amsterdam’s dis­tinc­tive rooftops. For a treat, book the ex­pan­sive Pulitzer’s Suite, with its su­per-king­sized bed, or one of four newCol­lec­tor’s Suites, each of which is de­voted to a dif­fer­ent cre­ative pas­sion: Art, An­tiques, Mu­sic and Books.

www.pulitzer­am­s­ter­dam.com

HOL­I­DAY HAP­PEN­INGS

The Amsterdam Light Fes­ti­val, now in its fifth year, bright­ens up the night with whizz-bang il­lu­mi­nated in­stal­la­tions along the canal belt. Through Jan­uary 22, you can board a “Wa­ter Col­ors” boat tour to view 20 sculp­tures, rang­ing from a neon rain­bow to Day-Glo tulips. Check out the out­door ice- skat­ing rink (through Fe­bru­ary 5) at theMu­se­umplein fac­ing the Ri­jksmu­seum.

http://www.iceam­s­ter­dam.nl/en

X-BANK

This 700sqm­con­cept store, lo­cated in a for­mer bank, is com­pletely de­voted to Dutch de­sign. Spend as lit­tle as seven Eu­ros on wine flavoured can­dies or as much as 1,700 Eu­ros on a black leather dress from Blck. You’ll also find art in­stal­la­tions, bi­cy­cles, liqueurs, lacy lin­gerie and ev­ery­thing in be­tween.

Save time for a drink at The Duchess, theglam­ourous­baran­drestau­rant­next door. Here, se­nior bar­tender Wouter Boschservesupa dan­ger­ously more-ish punch, as well as philo­sophic punch­lines (ahem).

http://xbank.amsterdam, http://the­duchess.com

BEURSPASSAGE

If you’ve ever won­dered what lies be­neath the sur­face of Amsterdam’s ubiq­ui­tous canals, skip the dip and take a stroll through the Beur­pas­sage. The bar­rel-vaulted al­ley, which opened in De­cem­ber, con­nects Nieuwendijk and Dam­rak, but it’s more than a short­cut be­tween two of Amsterdam’s busiest shop­ping streets. It’s a 30,000sq­mart-

“The tower’s rooftop ter­race, Look­out, boasts 360 de­gree views, but the main at­trac­tion is a pair of metal swings that ex­tend over the edge of the build­ing”

work that serves as a witty tribute to this multi-faceted city, where cast-off items form a sort of pri­mor­dial soup within the aquatic melt­ing pot of the canals.

Artist­sHans van Ben­tem, Arno Coe­nen and Iris Roskam have in­cor­po­rated el­e­ments like a red stiletto (a wink­ing ref­er­ence to the Red Light Dis­trict) within the in­tri­cate mo­saic ceil­ing, a green glass wall sconce in the shape of a flaming spliff, and gilded chan­de­liers com­prised of bi­cy­cle parts, thou­sands of which are hauled out of the canals ev­ery year. “We were not afraid of clichés,” van Ben­tem grins. You can even drink from a fish-shaped wa­ter foun­tain, dis­pens­ing what van Ben­tem calls “Amsterdam’s tol­er­ance elixir”.

www. beurspas­sageam­s­ter­dam.nl/in­for­ma­tion-en

MU­SEUM VAN LOON

Passers-by can’t re­sist peek­ing in the win­dows of his­toric homes lin­ing the canals, but Mu­seum Van Loon of­fers an eye­ful with rare, be­hind-closed­doors ac­cess to a 17th-cen­tury man­sion that once be­longed to a founder of the Dutch East In­dia Com­pany. Filled with 18th-cen­tury fur­nish­ings and por­traits of stern-look­ing an­ces­tors, with a man­i­cured gar­den and ren­o­vated coach house at the back, the es­tate has wel­comed key play­ers on the world stage, from Vladimir Putin to Fran­cois Hol­lande.

“We don’t cut off the rooms with ropes, and there’s no au­dio guide,” says di­rec­tor Tonko F. Gr­ever, who wants visi­tors to feel at home. But the mu­se­um­does drawthe line at bounc­ing on the beds. You’ve been warned.

www.mu­se­um­van­loon.nl

OTENTIC PER­FUMES

Fol­low your nose to Otentic, one of only three out­lets in the world where you’ll find these ex­otic per­fumes, pro­duced in Grasse, France. At the light and airy shop, which opened in April, you can sam­ple more than 64 uni­sex scents, which are di­vided into var­i­ous “mood” cat­e­gories, from Grass­lands (“earthy and spicy”) to Se­dux (“sweet and fruity”). Touch screens of­fer de­tailed de­scrip­tions of each, and bulb­bot­tomed vials al­low you to take a sniff be­fore you spray.

www.oten­ticper­fumes.com

NIEUWE KERK

Amsterdam’s “new church” ac­tu­ally dates to the 1400s, but it does em­brace a novel con­cept. Since 1980, this neo-Gothic land­mark has served as an ex­hi­bi­tion cen­tre, fo­cus­ing mainly on bi­o­graphic show­cases.

Through Fe­bru­ary 5, the for­mer church is host­ing a ret­ro­spec­tive ded­i­cated to Mar­i­lyn Mon­roe.

High­lights in­clude a doc­u­men­tary about the iconic blonde bomb­shell, cos­tumes and scripts from some of her most pop­u­lar films and in­ti­mate arte­facts, in­clud­ing cos­met­ics, hair curlers and a bot­tle of her favourite per­fume, which she fa­mously men­tioned when a re­porter for “Mod­ern Screen” mag­a­zine asked what she wore to bed.

“Why, Chanel No. 5, of course!” Mon­roe replied, no doubt with a guile­less flutter of eye­lashes. www.nieuwek­erk.nl/en/ Tourism info: www. iams­ter­dam.com

“Mu­seum Van Loon of­fers an eye­ful with rare, be­hind-closed­doors ac­cess to a 17th-cen­tury man­sion”

Ter­ri­fy­ing or ex­hil­a­rat­ing? the Look­out at the A’DAM Tower

The Amsterdam Light Fes­ti­val fea­tures il­lu­mi­nated sculp­tures along the city’s canals

The A’DAM Tower, which opened in May 2016

Colour­ful oys­ters at Bridges, a one-star Miche­lin res­tau­rant at Amsterdam’s Sof­i­tel Leg­end The Grand Amsterdam ho­tel

The State Coach of Louis van Loon in Mu­seum Van Loon

Un­til Fe­bru­ary 5, Amsterdam’s Nieuwe Kerk is host­ing an ex­hi­bi­tion ded­i­cated to Mar­i­lyn Mon­roe

Right: Lob­ster risotto with ‘lace­work’ made from squid ink fried in butter, at the Ho­tel Pulitzer’s Jansz res­tau­rant

Left: a salad of beet­root, onions, car­rots and spelt at Swych

The ceil­ing of Amsterdam’s Beur­pas­sage con­tains more than amil­lion mo­saic tiles

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