Amsterdam's mega museums were remastered and revamped last year and the Dutch capital's cultural renaissance continues with a slew of new bar and restaurant openings. Rachel Beard checks in to the city's newest hotel and checks out the city's hippest haunts.
Amsterdammers blew out a lot of candles last year. The canal network celebrated its 400th year, the Van Gogh Museum turned 40 and the Rijksmuseum re-opened after a 10-year revamp. And the cultural renaissance continues to sweep through the cobblestone streets with a spate of new openings, from a theater dedicated to telling the story of Anne Frank to a brothel-turned-museum that charts the history of the world’s oldest profession.
Even the Red Light District is cleaning up its act. Amsterdam may have lent Manhattan its moniker in the 17th-century but the city is taking its design cues from the five boroughs and some of the seedier streets are now more Brooklyn than bordello. A hipster barber-cum-café that pairs flat whites with facial hair trims and a Williamsburg-inspired retro ‘ barcade‘ are just two of the newest kids on the neon-lit block.
And where better to check out the city’s hippest haunts than checking in to its newest hotel. Herengracht Suites is an intimate property in a traditional inky blue canal house on the banks of one of the city’s poshest waterways. It’s a handsome place to hunker down, with just two suites furnished by owner Robin Toetenel, a dapper Dutchman and globetrotting interior designer. It’s decked out with fancy furnishings including a fireplace from a French chateau, an elaborate mirror from Myanmar and Oriental trinkets aplenty. A fitting tribute to its former life as a 17th-century merchant’s house, whose wealthy residents would finance expeditions to far-flung lands.
Read on for our pick of the best new spots in old Amsterdam.
In the heart of the Red Light District, Quartier Putain is a brothel-turned-coffee house with a built-in hip hop record label. Owned by Top Notch records, who occupy the floor upstairs, this cool café pairs quality java with jukebox tunes (baristas dish out tokens with every cup).
The Ton Ton Club
Opened in September 2013 by a group of artists and game designers in the Red Light District, the Ton Ton Club is a retro video game parlor and bar inspired by Williamsburg's Barcade. Grab an Amstel and hit up old school games like Mortal Kombat and air hockey or try your hand at the pinball machine that paints as you play. During the day, there are workshops for designers and fanatics to test beta versions of new games.
Cut Throat Barber & Coffee
Get a caffeine fix and a hipster haircut at this cute barber-cum-café which serves espresso-based drinks made from a special blend created by cool Dutch coffee bar, De Wasserette. Sink into a vintage barber chair for a cut throat shave and a cuppa.
This new Japanese joint is an Asian tapas lounge from the owners of Momo, one of Amsterdam's best cocktail bars. Order sharing plates of wagyu and foie gras gyoza and dover sole tempura and sip on a Bloody Geisha, a twist on the classic cocktail with added soy sauce and honey.
This new concept store in a former syrup factory on the Rozengracht allows small-scale designers and artists to showcase and sell their work under one roof. Set over three floors, the quirky megastore stocks housewares, hipster threads and jewelry. There's also nifty gadget that lets you personalize Moleskins and iPhone cases using a 3D technique.