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					                                    Holiday
                                                                                                                                                        April 2009




                                                      Amsterdam
We have toured this dynamic destination to bring you our top hotel recommendations,
as well as what to do and see, and good places to eat and stay
                                                      you’ll find that most of the journey is on              n Van Gogh Museum
   With its combination of artistic                   motorways, so you’d mop up miles quite quickly.         www.vangoghmuseum.nl
   riches, architectural splendour,                      A train station is located within the Schipol        This museum houses the largest collection of
   picturesque canals and a vibrant                   airport complex. Trains take around 20 minutes          Van Gogh’s paintings, prints and sculptures in
   restaurant culture, Amsterdam is                   to get to Amsterdam centraal Station and cost           the world. The art is displayed in chronological
   a European city like few others.                   €3.80 each way (standard class). You can buy            order, allowing visitors to track Van Gogh’s
   Openness and tolerance give it                     your tickets at machines in the baggage reclaim         development as an artist.
   an identity all of its own.                        hall or at the ticket office in the railway terminal.   Open daily 10am-6pm, Fridays until 10pm
      Rising from the marshland in the                                                                        Admission €12.50 (free to museum card holders)
   13th century, Amsterdam became                     GettinG around
   Europe’s richest city four centuries                                                                       n Rijksmuseum (the ‘People’s Museum’)
   later. Fuelled from the trading                    Amsterdam is compact and strollable down the            www.rijksmuseum.nl
   wealth during the ‘Golden Age’, the                tree-lined canal banks. Two wheels can be just as       housing an incredible array of dutch masters,
   four main canals – Prinsengracht,                  fun, however, and with miles of dedicated cycle         including rembrandt’s The Night Watch, the
   Herengracht, Keizersgracht and                     lanes and bike stands, cycling is much simpler          museum is undergoing renovations, but its
   Singel – were built.                               than in the UK. The city claims to have nearly as       collection of masterpieces is on show in the
      Building regulations are strict                 many bikes as inhabitants! hire one at one of the       new Phillips Wing.
   in Amsterdam so the interior                       many bike shops around town – we liked Bike             Open daily 9am-6pm, Fridays until 8.30pm
   layouts of many hotels appear                      city where €14.50 bought 24 hours on an                 Admission €10 (free to museum card holders)
   quite complicated at first. Many                   inconspicuous black three-speed with lock.
   of the older buildings will not have               Visit www.bikecity.nl for more details.                 n Anne Frank’s House
   lifts – and stairs can be steep –                                                                          www.annefrank.org




                                                                                                                                                                      WORdS rOchELLE TUrnEr PHOtOGRAPHy ISTOcKPhOTO ThIS FAcTFILE WAS cOmPILEd In mArch 2009
   so it may be worthwhile to enquire                 what to see and do                                      The museum’s aim is to bring visitors close to the
   before you book.                                                                                           poignant social history of the age and as a result,
                                                      Buy a Museumkaart (museum card) for €39.95              the information and artefacts on display are kept
                                                      (valid for a year) for free entry to 29 of the city’s   to a minimum. The Secret Annexe is almost
GettinG there                                         museums, and up to 400 in the netherlands. The          exactly as it was when the people living there
                                                      card is sold in many museums. Alternatively, an         were arrested by the nazi’s on August 4, 1944.
Flying is perhaps the most obvious way to get to      I Amsterdam card includes free public transport         Open 9am-7pm from 14 September until 15
Amsterdam – many of the major airlines fly to         inside the city and free or discounted entrance to      march, then 9am-9pm and until 10pm on
Amsterdam’s Schipol airport from the UK (see          museums, attractions and restaurants. Visit www.        Saturdays, and every day in July and August
www.flightmapping.com for routes), but you could      amsterdamtourist.nl. Prices €33 for 24 hours,           Admisson €8.50
also take the train or drive. On the rails, you’d     €43 for 48 hours and €53 for 72 hours
need to change from the Eurostar in Brussels to                                                               n Albert Cuypmarkt
a high-speed connecting train to Amsterdam            TIP The ‘tours’ of the diamond factories are little     The oldest market in Amsterdam. Stalls line
(www.raileurope.co.uk). The total journey time        more than sales pitches for the polished gems           Albert cuypstraat and sell all sorts including fruit,
from St Pancras, London, will take just over six      on offer. We found the Gassan diamond Factory           vegetables, clothes and beautiful bouquets of
hours, but be warned – its not cheap! If you drive,   Tour a waste of our time.                               flowers. Free lunchtime concerts on Wednesdays


                                   For the full magazine report on Amsterdam,
                                 see p38 of the April 2009 issue of Which? Holiday
at the neoclassical Concertgebouw (www.                simple 1930’s design touches. room 8 on the top       n Estherea Hotel
concertgebouw.nl) are held from September              floor has its own loft space and will sleep five.     Tel 00312 0624 5146
to June. Arrive early to ensure you get a seat.        A simple, continental buffet breakfast is served in   www.estherea.nl
                                                       the basement, but we enjoyed more appetising          caroline and her family are the third generation
n de Negen Straatjes (Nine streets)                    fare at the Bertram & Brood bakery on reestraat       to run this classy hotel in a former merchant’s
www.theninestreets.com                                 in the fashionable nine Streets area. €155 (£136)     house overlooking the Singel canal. First opened
A delightful area of boutiques, small art galleries,                                                         as a hotel by her grandmother in the 1940s,
cafés and bars in the heart of the canal belt.         n Hotel Seven Bridges                                 the 70 bedrooms have all been recently
                                                       Tel 00312 0623 1329                                   renovated and furnished with rich fabrics,
n the Stedelijk Museum of Modern Art                   www.sevenbridgeshotel.nl                              quality bed linen and antique furniture. The
www.stedelijkindestad.nl                               The fragrance of freshly cut lilies and the           public areas are no less inviting, helped by
closed for major rebuilding and is expected to         original art on the walls of the tiny reception       the complimentary coffee, tea and cakes
open in december 2009. The collections have            area creates an immediately warm welcome              available in the lobby throughout the day.
been moved to other galleries, including the           to this lovely small hotel. The marble floors and     You can browse the English titles in the
3rd floor of the Van Gogh museum.                      wall panels in the hall and steep stairway hint at    wood-panelled library, read the daily UK
                                                       the care and quality of the rooms within – and        papers, or be mesmerised by the tropical fish
TIP Those with pre-booked tickets and museum           we weren’t disappointed. Each individually            in the enormous tank that fills wall between the
cards can skip the entrance queues, but the            decorated room is a good size, with elegant           reception and lounge. €215 (£191)
popular museums do get very busy. Try and visit        antique furnishings, wooden floors covered with
either first thing in the morning or after 7pm on      oriental rugs and newly tiled bathrooms. Those        n Park Hotel
a Friday when you will be able to enjoy the            with canal view rooms in the annexe next door to      Tel 00312 0671 1222
fabulous works without so much jostling.               the main building may be able to spot the seven       www.parkhotel.nl
                                                       bridges alluded to in the hotel name, but choose      A bland, office block appearance from the
Good places to stay                                    a room in the main building for breakfast served      outside masks the incredibly stylish and
                                                       to your room on fine bone china. €95 (£83)            contemporary hotel within. The newer purpose
Prices are for the cheapest double room in                                                                   built wing of the hotel is linked to a older part
may 2009, including taxes and breakfast where          Canal-side hotels with lifts                          of the hotel that was built in the early 1800s as
available. While some of the best rates will be        n Ambassade Hotel                                     a tea house for Amsterdam aristocrats. Older
offered on hotel websites, many hoteliers say          Tel 00312 0555 0222                                   rooms make the most of the exposed beams,
that the best rates may often be available by          www.ambassade-hotel.nl/eng                            while luxury furnishings and clean, crisp rooms
calling the hotels direct.                             The attractive library, with more than 1800           come as standard throughout. €156 (£139),
                                                       signed books (all in dutch!) and furniture from       breakfast €23.50
Small canal-side hotels without lifts                  the 18th century, is one of many elegant public
n Hotel Orlando                                        areas within this canal-side property. Original       Other areas
Tel 00312 0638 6915                                    art works, many from the coBrA movement               n Hotel de Filosoof
www.hotelorlando.nl                                    (which was active between 1949-52), line the          Tel 00312 0683 3013
Located on the Prinsengracht in the heart of old       halls and rooms, and add a unique touch.              www.hotelfilosoof.nl
Amsterdam, this 17th-century house has only five       Some of the standard double rooms are on the          A hotel dedicated to philosophy is a unique
guest rooms over its three floors (accessed by         small side, but most overlook the water below,        concept. Seconds from the Vondelpark in the
steep stairs) and oozes a cosy, personal charm.        and all have stylish décor melding rich fabrics       Old South, all 45 rooms in this charming hotel
The rooms are more spacious than in other              and antique furnishings. Good value special           (recently bought by a small dutch chain), have
similar canal-side properties and gently mix some      offers are available on the website, including        décor based on different philosophical or
modern touches (Phillipe Starck lamps and              breakfast in the magnificent room overlooking         cultural themes. despite the original furnishings
contemporary dutch paintings) with the original        the elegant herengracht canal. €257 (£225),           and rich fabrics, some of the rooms appear
features of the former patrician’s home – parquet      breakfast €16                                         slightly past their best and some standard
floors and wooden beams. Those at the front                                                                  double rooms are truly pokey. The commitment
overlooking the canal have more natural light          n Banks Mansion Hotel                                 by the new owners to invest in refurbishment
than the garden rooms at the back of the hotel.        Tel 00312 0420 0055                                   over the coming year should hopefully return
Breakfast can be taken in the simple basement          www.banksmansion.nl                                   this hotel to its original glory. €150 (£134),
breakfast room, in your own room, or you can           The main delight of this former bank is neither       breakfast €15
choose among the many cafés and restaurants            its central location nor its Art deco interior
in the nearby Utrechtestraat. €115 (£101)              (inspired by Berlage, Frank Lloyd Wright and          n Hotel Groenhof (Hotel Blyss)
                                                       the Amsterdam School), but its laid-back and          Tel 00312 0616 82 21
n t’Hotel                                              inclusive approach to its guests. Based on a          www.hotelgroenhof.nl
Tel 00312 0422 2741                                    philosophy that everyone should feel at home,         This hotel was undergoing a major transformation
www.thotel.nl                                          once you have paid for your room, nearly              when we inspected it in August 2008. The
despite its location overlooking the gentle            everything else is included. You can have             new owners had completely renovated the
Leilegracht on a quiet cobbled street in the           pre-dinner drinks and nibbles (all day long!)         tired interiors of the old hotel, adding a lift,
Western canal Belt, you might mistake the              from the open bar in ‘The Living’, a freshly          new bathroom suites and furniture in the
window of this hotel for the Slovakian Tourist         cooked breakfast and English newspaper                rooms and some stylish décor throughout.
Board – the owners are keen to promote their           in ‘The Kitchen’ or raid your own mini-bar,           Bedrooms, as common with many hotels
home country. T’hotel is small and comfortable         completely guilt- and cost-free. Even if you          in Amsterdam, can be on the small side,
with only eight rooms, accessed by steep stairs        just fancy a night in (heaven forbid!), dVds          and those overlooking the road might be
from a separate entrance next door. All rooms          can be borrowed free of charge from reception.        a bit noisy, but the location is perfect
are clean and comfortably furnished, with some         €219 (£192)                                           for museum-lovers. €129 (£118))
n Lloyd Hotel                                          during the 17th century. The hotel has good-sized     for the amazing desserts! mains from €10,
Tel 00312 0561 3607                                    rooms each fitted with a kitchenette. Longer          desserts from €5.
www.lloydhotel.com                                     stays are catered for thanks to the basement
Away from the old centre of Amsterdam in               laundry room. Wood floors, modern furnishings         n take thai
the Eastern docklands, the character and               and primary colour accents on the walls give an       Utrechtstraat 87
architecture of this old migrants’ boarding house      almost Scandinavian feel to the impeccably clean      Tel 00312 0622 0577
and borstal has been re-imagined and turned            rooms. Breakfast is available for an extra fee, but   www.takethai.com
into a truly unique hotel. Each of the 116 rooms       pop across the road to the lovely de Jaren café/      A calming Thai restaurant with an extensive
has a different design thanks to the talents of        restaurant to sip your coffee overlooking the         menu. Ingredients are clearly and helpfully
some of the top dutch designers. Another               waterside terrace. €139 (£122), breakfast €11.50      labelled. mains from €16.
peculiarity is that all rooms are graded differently
(from one to five stars based on room size) but all    n Hotel Roemer                                        Quick snacks
guests receive free wireless, satellite TV and         Tel 00312 05150 453                                   n Maoz Falafel
24-hour room service. The room designs might           www.vondelhotels.com                                  www.maoz.nl
not be to all tastes – some rooms are quite stark      On a quiet street in the refined Old South area,      Quick, cheap and healthy falafels to take away or
and others definitely quirky (the doors to rooms       you’ll enjoy an intimate stay in this cosy boutique   perch on one of the few seats indoors in the
309 and 206, among others, open directly into          hotel. designer rooms overlook either the quiet       muntplein. help yourself to the salads and
the bathrooms). The brasserie restaurant in the        street to the front or the garden at the back, and    sauces. €3.50
former hall is light and airy, thanks to a six-story   are equipped with dVd player, Ipod speakers
atrium. much of the excellent food is sourced          and even a coffee maker. €183 (£163)                  n Bagels & Beans
locally from small farms around Amsterdam.                Its sister hotel, the Hotel Vondel, just around    www.bagelsbeans.nl
One-star room €116 (£102), five-star €357 (£313),      the corner, is another stylish choice. €88 (£78),     This small chain serves up freshly baked bagels
both room only                                         breakfast €19.95                                      with a great number of fillings and all types of
                                                                                                             coffees and hot drinks. The atmosphere is warm
n Piet Hein                                            n Hotel V                                             and welcoming.
Tel 00312 0662 7205                                    Tel 00312 0662 3233
www.hotelpiethein.nl                                   www.hotelv.nl                                         n Bertram & Brood
This smart, family-owned hotel prides itself on        Incredibly hip, but good value hotel in               www.bertrambrood.nl
the friendliness of its staff, and justifiably so.     Fredriksplein. Within walking distance of the         The dutch love their coffee and pastries and this
named after a dutch naval commander, the Piet          great restaurants on Utrechestraat, the               chain of bakeries has a mouthwatering selection.
hein not only has a great location in the museum       multicultural Albert cuyp market and a tram stop
Quarter (next to the leafy Vondelpark, and only        just outside the door, it’s certainly well-located.   n Frood
three streets from the Van Gogh museum), but is        The rooms have trendy design touches and              www.frood.nl
also good value for money. The soothing public         comfortable beds with thick duvets. The cheaper       Juices and smoothies to quench your thirst and
areas and bar might help you relax after a long        rooms are in the basement and tiny windows            revive your spirits.
day of sightseeing. Weather permitting, breakfast      make them quite dark. €149 (£132)
on the terrace at the Piet hein is the perfect way                                                           useful information
to start your day. €175 (£153)                         Good places to eat
                                                                                                             n Time difference UK +1hour
n Hotel Owl                                            Visit the independent restaurant review website       n Dialling code +0031
Tel 00312 0618 9484                                    www.iens.nl to help plan where to dine.               n Exchange rate £1 = €.80
www.owl-hotel.nl
A clean hotel with simple décor, friendly staff        n de Jaren                                            When to go
near the Vondelpark. €130 (£116)                       Nieuwe Doelenstraat 20                                The weather in Amsterdam is very similar to that
                                                       Tel 00312 0625 5771                                   in the UK, rain in winter. Visit in spring to see the
n Q-bic                                                www.cafedejaren.nl                                    city full of colour from tulip blooms.
Tel 00314 3321 1111                                    Stylish, cavernous interior plus a popular
http://www.qbichotels.com                              canal-side terrace in fine weather. Good range        Recommended guidebooks
clean, modern and stylish hotel just a short tram      of sandwiches for less than €5.                       and website
ride away from the hustle and bustle of the city                                                             n Time Out Amsterdam, £12.99
centre. Qbic calls itself a pod hotel but these        n toscanini                                           (ISBn 978184670 0316)
‘pods’ are spacious and complete with big              Lindengracht 75                                       n For a historical perspective try
comfortable beds and all the amenities one really      Tel 00312 0623 2813                                   Amsterdam: A Brief Life of the
needs in a hotel room. You can also change the         www.toscanini.nu                                      City by Geert mak, £8.99, Vintage
colour of the lighting to suit your mood! Access to    Authentic Italian food in the heart of the Jordaan.   Books (ISBn 9781680467899)
the hotel is through the World Trade centre, so        The fresh food is cooked in the open kitchen          n www.amsterdamtourist.nl
walking through the quiet corporate lounge after       and served by excellent and attentive staff.
hours could seem a bit eerie. From €39 (£35)           A two-course meal with a glass of wine will cost
                                                       around €45. reservations required.
n Hotel Residence Le Coin
Tel 00312 0524 6800                                    n de Bolhoed
www.lecoin.nl                                          Prinsengracht 60
Just off the muntplein in the nieuwe Zijde (new        Tel 00312 0626 1803
Side) of Amsterdam, residence Le coin is located       cosy vegetarian restaurant with fresh and largely
on a small side street in which rembrandt lived        organic ingredients. Ensure you leave room

				
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