I know I say this about pretty much every European city I visit, but Amsterdam holds a special place in my heart. This is my second visit to The Netherlands and for me Amsterdam is great for so many reasons. The city has progressive, liberal values which I applaud and it somehow feels more romantic than Paris. Amsterdam feels prettier, calmer and more intimate. It is a more walkable and homely city. There is a desire from people all over the globe to flock to the capital all year round and it has the best outdoor cafe culture. The buildings perfectly harmonise modernity with historical charm and it instantly feels like a place you could settle in. Usually I meticulously plan every city break to ensure I get to see every district and to immerse myself in all the varying culture. I want to experience living like a local when I travel. With Amsterdam I felt completely at ease and was immersed in the lifestyle right away. Strolling around in the summer heat we found ourselves idling away hours sat outside a cafe having a cup of tea or at Vondelpark watching the cyclists go past. Amsterdam is such a relaxed and comfortable city, there is no hast to get to anywhere like in most cities. Amsterdam feels like a breath of fresh air both figuratively and literally. The people are so uplifting and the canals bring such life to the city. There are so many green outdoor spaces which is key to city living, it feels like there is beauty and nature on every corner.
CAFES & RESTAURANTS
Herengracht 255, 1016 BJ Amsterdam
I love The Hoxton hotels in Europe, they're the perfect choice for when you want an affordable but luxurious place to stay or eat. Just down the road from our Airbnb was the gorgeous canal side historic building that is The Hoxton so we decided to stop by for breakfast. The interior is so beautiful with a large glass ceiling covered in green hanging plants and drop lighting. The food was delicious and not an overwhelming selection, I ordered the sweet potato rosti with poached eggs and chard. Jamie ordered the chilli avocado and eggs on homemade bread. It was pretty relaxed inside and there is lots of comfortable seating which means you can chill out and relax after your food and the staff encourage you not to leave in a hurry. Great service and great food, so good that we went back on the last day of our trip to try the pancakes!
Binnen Dommersstraat 15, 1013 HK Amsterdam
Jamie and I often fantasise about opening our own cafe and we always discuss the workings of the menu we would offer. We chat endlessly about the vibe we would want to create, the interiors of the cafe and how we would like it to be ran. Usually our vision is an amalgamation of all the cafes that we have visited with our favourite parts replicated - that was until we visited Toki. Toki cafe is everything I envisaged and more. Instantly when you walk in the service is warm and relaxed, there are tonnes of doggies lazing around and a great atmosphere of people socialising, reading a book or just working on their laptop. Chef Nana, who I have followed on Instagram for a while now, (do check out her page) is the head chef and creates some incredible Asian concept dishes. We ordered the brown rice bowl with shaved carrot, radish and avocado - it was so fresh and flavoursome. To top it all off the interiors are just heavenly with Max Lamb marble tabletops and faux tortoise shell spoons. An all round 10/10 for food, service and atmosphere. Also, get the choc chip cookies on offer all day, they are beyond good.
Wolvenstraat 22, 1016 EP Amsterdam
Libertine Cafe is my kinda place, serving breakfast food all day long! Take your pick of the menu which simply offers something sweet, eggs, salads or crostini's. The cafe itself is also super chic inside again with a very Parisian influenced decor, think dark and dramatic. We ordered the natural yoghurt with home made crunchy granola and peppermint tea. A cute and romantic spot.
De Clercqstraat 34, 1052 MZ Amsterdam
Now you know I love a good batch of pancakes for breakfast, so what better place to dedicate an entire restaurant to them other than Amsterdam - home to the greatest Dutch pancake house! We deliberated where to go and decided on MOOK as it was local. I ordered the maple syrup, berries and coconut pancakes alongside Jamie's more indulgent option of peanut butter, chocolate, banana and berry pancakes. They were so yummy and super filling (as you can imagine.) The interiors are also really light and green and the cafe doesn't feel novelty at all. Extra brownie points too as Mook plays some great old school R&B and hip hop which I love - I mean, who doesn't love pancakes with a side of AshantI - Only You.
BUFFET VAN ODETTE
Prinsengracht 598, 1017 KS Amsterdam
Buffet van Odette has served Amsterdam with some of its best local food for two decades. It has a beautiful outdoor patio overlooking the Prinsengracht and the decor inside is worthy of your attention too. The menu is simple and hearty. We ordered the garlic razor clams and a mozarella bowl with pearl barley and pistachio, super delicious! I wish we had chosen to eat here for dinner too as I imagine the restaurant of an evening would have the most romantic atmosphere. It feels really mature and elegant but without the pretension, a great bistro style restaurant offering good, wholesome food.
Pieter Cornelisz Hooftstraat 87A, 1071 BP Amsterdam
Nestled amongst the millionaires row and the likes of Gucci and Prada is the equally glamourous Cafe Georgette. The George restaurants/cafes are really popular in Amsterdam and it is easy to see why. Georgette offers a small selection of breakfast foods in a lively and fresh, art deco meets Aussie, chic interior - think Granger & Co, London. In honesty, the food and service was good but not great. I opted for the avocado & egg fritata and Jamie the eggs florentine and it was a little style over substance. I would choose the outdoor seats and just grab a coffee if I returned!
Van Diemenstraat 408, 1013 CR Amsterdam
We went to Amsterdam for my 25th birthday so we decided to go BIG on the food scene. Usually we mix it up with some more low key casual options as well as fine dining, but Amsterdam offers such a great standard of restaurants that we wanted to experience it all. We are die hard fans of the show Chefs Night Out on Youtube and had seen BAK restaurant on the show. We loved the attitudes to cooking and the produce they used with a emphasis on trying to use as little meat as possible, so we made a reservation. It was a seven course tasting menu with all dishes being a surprise to guests and using the best of seasonal produce available. Each course was delivered and explained by our chef and I was honestly blown away. The standard for each dish was incredible, it was presented beautifully and just faultless as an experience. The atmosphere in the restaurant is really casual and relaxed which I also loved. At $67 per person, I would have paid more.
Singel 210, 1016 AB Amsterdam
A beautiful and classic restaurant which feels like it belongs to the middle of Parisian arrondissement. The interior is old fashioned, brown panelling, meets modern, crushed velvet green couches. BREDA also offers you the option to sit next to your dining guest rather than opposite, which we much prefer. The restaurant offers a five, seven or a whopping nine course tasting menu. It sounds like a lot - I know, but as commented on by the wait staff, its not about feeling stuffed and eating too much, its about taking your time and enjoying your plates over the course of an entire evening. This is definitely something we noticed. When eating from a tasting menu, your food arrives and is explained thoroughly. There is no rush, no hovering wait staff with a new group of diners waiting to be seated and no prompt for the bill. Usually when we dine out, we take roughly an hour and a half at maximum but in the more upmarket restaurants we noticed we were spending closer to 3-4 hours per evening. It definitely felt like more of an experience as opposed to just food for sustenance. You definitely get the level of service and quality of food and ingredients you are paying for. Restaurant BREDA did not disappoint and the flavours complimented each other on every dish. Again another great restaurant making the most of exceptional vegetable and fish ingredients.
Kamerlingh Onneslaan 3, 1097 DE Amsterdam
I wish I could share so many more photographs of how spectacular this restaurant was. The restaurant is located in a set of greenhouses which date back to 1926. With the knowledge that food tastes better when it is prepared with the freshest local ingredients, De Kas grow all of their own herbs and vegetables offering one fixed menu, with the option of additional courses. The menu is based around the harvest of their nursery, and is served alongside the finest ingredients from local suppliers. The outdoor eating area and greenhouse is within a huge plot of land and with its mass of hedges, sat under a beating sun, you could be in the middle of a Tuscan vineyard. The restaurant is so tranquil and situated in a large park grounds, you feel miles away from city life.
OTHER CAFES & RESTAURANTS TO VISIT
COFFEE & COCONUTS
MARIE STELLA MARIS
Keizersgracht 357HS, 1016 EJ Amsterdam
Marie Stella Maris is one of my favourite brands. If you have never heard of them before, they are a socially conscious enterprise whose mission is to improve access to clean drinking water in the world. The founders were inspired when in 2010 the United Nations declared access to clean drinking water and sanitation to be a human right, Patrick Munsters was inspired to begin Marie Stella Maris, a lifestyle brand which offers natural body and home products as well as natural mineral water. For each purchase made from store, a fixed amount goes to clean water drinking projects. As well as being ethical, the products smell amazing and the packaging is unisex, minimal and cool. Such a great brand to support when you are in Amsterdam, pay them a visit!
Herengracht 298, 1016 BX Amsterdam
Love Stories is a beautiful lingerie and nightwear boutique which has the most gorgeous designs. The fabrics are always silky and delicate or soft lace and the colours are playful and pretty but still super stylish. Think mauve, lilacs, blues, olive greens and a little leopard print and star print thrown in. A lot of their slip nightwear works perfect as outwear over a white t shirt. An affordable brand and great quality too.
66H, Haarlemmerdijk, 1013 JE Amsterdam
Salt water is like a Scandinavian dream come true, offering a selection of well-made minimal clothing that will stand the test of time. The concept store carries independent designer brands that use only natural fabrics and produce in small quantities as opposed to fast fashion brands. Salt Water opts for organic, handmade and well-designed home goods that are stylish and sustainable, with the method of buy less, buy better. The store provides a space where you can relax and have a coffee too!
Eerste van der Helststraat 76HS, 1072 NZ Amsterdam,
Cottoncake is a little slice of heaven in a store. Minimal and carefully selected clothing and accesories adorn the matte white walls and the air smells sensual and woody with their own fragrances lingering to try. There is also a small and perfectly formed cafe which serves all day breakfasts and a brilliant cappuccino on site. An absolute must visit when shopping in Amsterdam.
THE PELICAN STUDIO
Raadhuisstraat 35, 1016 DC Amsterdam
By far my favourite store in the whole city is Pelican Studio. An enormous retail space inspired by Miami in the 80’s which boats the best of contemporary design. The studio serves a mix of European high end and street wear fashion brands, offering clothes, shoes, accessories, jewellery and perfumes. If your looking for a truly unique and fun shopping experience then do not miss Pelican!
Wolvenstraat 15, 1016 EM Amsterdam
Anecdote caters for those, like myself who have a need for authentic, timeless clothing that is not focused on delivering fast fashion. The brand offers high quality pieces that see you through life and become classics or favourites over time. The collections are based on founder Jetteke’s personal stories. Anecdote claim that her inspiration always expresses itself subtly in the Anecdote designs and can be detectable through the use of a specific color, a distinct texture or a unique outline. You will find fragments of these stories, her Anecdotes, throughout our brand. The store itself is clean, fresh and contemporary and has a feel similar to COS' but with a slightly more playful and comfortable interior.
Spuistraat 281 abc, 1012 VR Amsterdam
Of course, it wouldn't be a trip to Europe for me without visiting a HAY store. HAY is one of my favourite homeware brands as they perfectly capture innovative, contemporary furniture suited to modern living, finished with an industrial manufacturing feel. Their ambition is to make good design accessible to the largest possible audience. Danish design stores are my favourite and I have loved this brand ever since visit Copenhagen in 2015.
Prinsengracht 581- 1, 1016 HT Amsterdam
Now this is my kinda store! Sustainable fashion pioneer and owner of Verse, Ciara Shah and I got talking about our love of organic, natural, cruelty free skincare and how each city needs a store like Verse. Ciara tells me how Verse is the one stop shop for the consumer who cares about what they put on their body. We scour the world to gather the finest, smartest and most caring brands in ethical fashion, clean beauty and local goods because we all want things worth having. A must see for the ethical minded shopper.
Oude Spiegelstraat 9, 1016 BM Amsterdam
The chicest looking store I have ever laid eyes on. Maison Rika is actually a single-apartment guesthouse disguised as a boutique store and adorned with gorgeous, contemporary minimal art works. Former stylist Ulrika Lundgren formed the ground-floor shop to house soft leather bags and star-print tees, cute totes as well as jewelry from local designers and a selection of luxurious fragrances.
Van Woustraat 4, 1073 LL Amsterdam
Concept store Hutspot offers a combination of innovative fashion, unique design and local art, acting as a platform for young designers and artists to sell their products alongside established brands. The brand consists of fashion classics that are designed with everyday use in mind. Currently consisting of just womenswear and menswear Hutspot plans to expand with accessories, home decor and stationery soon. The store itself is huge and I could have spent all day idling across the two floors of clothing, I chose a breton tee by Selected Femme which I already consider a classic. One of my favourite Amsterdam clothing stores!
Haarlemmerdijk 39, 1013 KA Amsterdam
A lovely Scandinavian style store located in Haarlemmerdijk. Restored is concerned with the ideology that simplicity brings calm and restores the balance in life.
The brand works with small labels and independent designers to bring together a unique collection of jewelry, ceramics, magazines, textiles and more. This results in a careful curation of pure and refined design.
OTHER STORES TO VISIT
CHARLIE AND MARY
ACE & TATE
ANNA & NINA