AM­S­TER­DAM.

Gay Times Magazine - - TRAVEL - Words Si­mon Gage Kimp­ton­de­wit­tho­tel.com eurostar.com

“Are you com­ing for sex or drugs, sir?” It’s what they used to ask you at cus­toms as you came into Am­s­ter­dam. No, of course they didn’t. Don’t be ridicu­lous, but they might as well have as they were the two main rea­sons any­one went from the UK to Am­s­ter­dam back in the day.

Yes, there are pic­turesque canals and the world’s finest col­lec­tion of Van Gogh paint­ings and the Anne Frank House to re­mind you that hor­ror can hap­pen even on very pretty streets and tasty dough­nut-style street food called Oliebollen but back when sex and drugs were hard to come by in Bri­tain, that was the main ap­peal of Am­s­ter­dam: sex clubs, where you could ac­tu­ally have sex right there on the premises with­out fear of ar­rest or ex­po­sure in the Sun­day papers, and cafés where you could openly smoke a joint or have a space cake as if you were a grown up per­son in charge of their own lives.

Now that you can have sex in any num­ber of clubs in the UK and hash is as read­ily avail­able as cu­cum­bers, why would any­one go to Am­s­ter­dam apart from the canals, the Van Goghs and oliebollen (we just like say­ing it)? For the hip ho­tels, maybe? The Hox­ton, which opened a cou­ple of years ago, or, if you have Bey­oncé lev­els of cash to spend, The Dy­lan. Or, if you’re re­ally clever and know what you’re talk­ing about, the brand new Kimp­ton De Witt.

The first sur­prise about the Kimp­ton if you’ve swished in on Eurostar (and you re­ally should swish in on the new Eurostar route as you don’t even re­alise the hack of air travel un­til you don’t have to do it, es­pe­cially as it means you can swish with a suitcase full of your own booze, which you can even con­sume en route) is that it’s ac­tu­ally within walk­ing dis­tance of the sta­tion.

Our sec­ond sur­prise, see­ing as we’d spent the jour­ney watch­ing Killing Eve is that the en­tire cast and crew of Killing Eve 2 are stay­ing there and yet we still bag a ju­nior suite in the at­tic so gor­geous with its free-stand­ing bath, geo­met­ric tiling and pin­point de­sign that all the Van Goghs and oliebollen in town have to work damn hard to get us to leave it.

Then there’s the Kimp­ton group’s ge­nius wine hour, where ho­tel guests are in­vited to step down to the spa­cious lobby and en­joy free wines of vary­ing colours while they chat to each other. It might sound cringe to shy Brits but you ac­tu­ally do drink and do chat to the most un­likely char­ac­ters who you can then say hello to in the lifts for the rest of your stay. Or in the restau­rant, which is so hard to get into in the evening, you should book your ta­ble when you book your room. We can’t tell you how many peo­ple we saw turned away. We even had to sit up at the bar our­selves, and we have con­tacts.

Out­side of the Kimp­ton, if you make it, you are in the down­town of those pic­turesque canals. Yes, there’s an H&M/Cos shop­ping district just round the back and some dodgy kebab joints, cof­fee houses and red-lit win­dows with grannies sit­ting on bar stools in bra and panties over there, but walk five min­utes, maybe ten and you’re in Jor­daan (ask your Uber driver for a cinema called The Movies), an area of in­de­pen­dent shops and restau­rants – so re­fresh­ing to Brits whose ev­ery high street is lit­tered with the same com­bi­na­tion of Boots, WHSmiths and

Costa Cof­fees – and, De Pi­ijp, where you walk along canals to find lit­tle out­door food mar­kets and quirky lit­tle de­sign stores.

Go to some­where like Soho if you want a more reg­u­lar night out with mu­sic and drink­ing and flirt­ing, while the cof­fee shops where they’ll sell you hash to roll and puff right there on the premises are ev­ery­where. But don’t think you can smoke an or­di­nary fag in there, mind.

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