A Design Lover's Guide to Amsterdam - Architectural Digest

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A Design Lover's Guide to Amsterdam Architectural Digest Admire the Golden Age canal houses, ogle masterpieces by Rembrandt, Vermeer, and Van Gogh, and explore the city's contemporary design


“Amsterdam lives and breathes creativity. One moment you walk into a building from the 17th century, and the next you find yourself in a hub of creative start-up companies,” said Marcel Wanders, founder of the eponymous design studio and a pioneer of the Dutch design movement. Indeed, the city is a veritable playground for architecture and design lovers. If you haven’t been recently, now is a great time to go. This year, the city is celebrating the 350th anniversary of Rembrandt’s death with special exhibits and events. Herewith, AD spotlights the best way to visit and soak up the lovely atmosphere in this city of canals.

Where to Stay

a bedroom with pink drapes a blue love seat a fireplace and a tv

A guest suite at the Pulitzer Hotel.

Photo: Sander Baks

Amsterdam’s hotel scene offers hip microhotels, luxurious grand dames, and everything in between. On the more modern end of the spectrum is Sir Hotels, a European brand with two hotels in Amsterdam: Sir Adam in burgeoning Amsterdam-Noord and Sir Albert in the laid-back de Pijp neighborhood. Both are members of Design Hotels with a bit of a rock-and-roll edge.

a vast lobby with modern lamps and large black leather sofas

The Conservatorium Hotel lounge.

Photo: Courtesy of Conservatorium Hotel

On the posh Prinsengracht, the Pulitzer Hotel emerged from a top-to-bottom renovation in 2016 with a stunning design by Jacu Strauss, who joined the 25 canal houses that compose the hotel into a cohesive and glamorous entity. The Conservatorium—part of the Set Hotels collection and a member of Leading Hotels of the World—likewise marries old and new to brilliant effect. It occupies the former music conservatory in the heart of the Museum District, which was updated with chic design elements such as a glass-enclosed lobby lounge filled with furniture by the likes of Mies van der Rohe.

a large brick building on the banks of a canal

The Hotel de l’Europe.

Photo: Leading Hotels of the World

Opened by the Heineken family, Hotel de l’Europe (also a member of Leading Hotels of the World) occupies a stately 19th-century building on the banks of the River Amstel and evokes the nostalgic style of a Wes Anderson film. This May, it will debut a redesign of its Hèt Terrace restaurant, which is the first phase of a larger renovation.

Where to Eat and Drink

a car and restaurant with tall ceilings and a contemporary vibe

Restaurant C.

Photo: Jan Bartelsman

The Canal District and neighboring De Jordaan offer plenty of opportunities to taste Dutch specialties in the city’s historic restaurants and brown cafés. Soak up the historic atmosphere at Café Papeneiland, which serves a delicious appeltaart (Dutch apple pie), and Café Hoppe, which have both been Amsterdam fixtures since the 1600s. For something more contemporary, book a table at Lotti’s, the buzzy restaurant in the Hoxton Amsterdam, or Restaurant C, where rising star chef Arnout van der Kolk serves a tasting menu of dishes designed to showcase how cooking at the right temperature is just as important as using high-quality ingredients.

a dark room with dramatic lighting and seating areas

Bluespoon Bar.

Photo: Hyatt Hotels

You’d be remiss not to head up to the Twenty Third Bar atop Hotel Okura for a cocktail with panoramic views of the city. A member of Leading Hotels of the World, it’s also home to the two-Michelin-starred Ciel Bleu Restaurant and Yamazato, which was the first traditional Japanese restaurant in Europe awarded a Michelin star. End the evening with a nightcap at Bluespoon Bar in the Andaz Amsterdam Prinsengracht, which features a whimsical design by Marcel Wanders, or Pulitzer’s Bar, which was voted the best bar in Amsterdam.

What to Do

a large ornate brick building at the end of a reflecting pool

The Rijksmuseum.

Photo: John Lewis Marshall

In honor of the 350th anniversary of Rembrandt’s death, the Rijksmuseum has a special exhibit on the Dutch master, though his masterpiece The Night Watch is still on view in the Night Watch Gallery adjacent to the Gallery of Honor, where you can gaze upon Vermeer’s The Milkmaid. You could spend a whole day in the Museum District, where you’ll also find the Van Gogh Museum and the Stedelijk Museum, which houses works of modern and contemporary art and design by Henri Matisse, Piet Mondrian, Yves Klein, Yayoi Kusama, Marcel Breuer, and Charles and Ray Eames. It’s also worth visiting the Museum het Rembrandthuis to see where the painter lived and worked. The I Amsterdam City Card grants you free entrance to these and many other museums, as well as select canal tours and unlimited public transport.

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