Our guide to Amsterdam for fine art and fine dining
Amsterdam is a destination that might recall misspent teenage years, or hen and stag weekends best forgotten. However, a visit now will reveal it as a hotbed of new dining talent and cutting-edge retail that continues to add an exciting and sophisticated layer to this perfectly formed European city. As a small city with a notoriously busy airport there’s no better way to sample some of the old and some of the new delights Amsterdam has to offer than by flying by private jet.
There are some things that never change with Amsterdam – the charming network of canals, the vibrant flowers, the incredible art – and all the better for it. No visit is complete without long relaxed meanders through the almost car-free streets, crossing the many bridges as you spy stunning gabled houses lining the waterways, exuding an elegant ease. Be careful of the bikes of course, and spy houseboats that for many offer another way to call Amsterdam home, and head to the famous floating flower market (the Bloemenmarkt) – though go early to miss the inevitable crowds. With that ticked off, make your way to Gerda’s Bloemen, in the funky Nine Street Area (De Negen Straatjes), for a less hectic look at designer flora, and bouquets created from the very best, seasonal flowers. Gerda’s also stock some stunning vases to take home, and the surrounding quirky shops – including men’s and women’s fashion and interiors – will almost certainly offer something to catch the eye.
For art lovers there’s an abundance of artistic delights, with the 3 main galleries in the Museum Quarter all resplendent after long-term renovations. For modern and contemporary art head to the Stedelijk and view nearly 90,000 pieces including works by Pollock, Warhol, Rauschenberg and Kandinsky, as well as post-impressionists Cezanne and Van Gogh. If the latter leaves you wanting more, right next door is the Van Gogh Museum and the largest collection in the world of the artist’s works. Close by there is also the famous Rijksmuseum with its Old Masters collection to rival any in the world – and also, rather handily, offering the best dining option in the Museum Quarter, Rijks, where young chef Joris Bijdendijk has been wowing diners.
An Amsterdam dining essential is Onno Kokmeijer’s Ciel Bleu, perched on the 23rd floor of the Hotel Okura to offer views of the city that are a rarity. As well as creations coming out of the 2-Michelin-starred kitchen to savour – including the signature Krab Royal – sample some delectable wines from sommelier Noël Vanwittenbergh. To get a taste of one of the latest additions to the gastronomic scene make a reservation at 3-star chef Jacob Jan Boerma’s The White Room at the Amsterdam Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky. Here try the 8-course tasting menu with wine pairings – smaller menus are available as well as à la carte – and take in the exquisite detailing of the spectacular and grand room which dates back to 1885. For more casual dining but still in a wow-factor setting try either Amsterdam with its cavernous industrial interior, or Bazar which serves up Arabic flavours at its former church site.
For the canal house experience, try the very clearly named Canal House on Keizersgracht and enjoy its original features and modern design in brooding tones. Owned by the Curious Group – behind Cowley Manor in the Cotswolds and L’Hotel in Paris – the place oozes charm though as one might expect the floorplans can be a little warren-like.
For a small city Amsterdam certainly packs a punch and is a perfect break for any art lover or gourmand. With the very first blooms of spring not too long away now, start planning your getaway and indulge in all it has to offer.
Find flights to Amsterdam today