The city of your dreams is called Amsterdam
A couple of weeks ago, I returned to Amsterdam. A city that I have visited on numerous occasions, either for work or pleasure, and once again I was blown away by its beauty and by how inspiring it is. Because you need to visit Amsterdam more than once to get the most out of it and to enjoy the great number of things it has to offer.
On this occasion, I stayed at the symbolic Pulitzer Amsterdam in Jordaan, one of the coolest neighbourhoods in the Dutch capital declared a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is the result of joining 25 interconnected canal houses, that date back to the 17th and 18th centuries, and to be honest, it is a real gem. A place packed with history and authentic architectural elements such as its wood beamed ceilings from the old days, fireplaces and antiques, that at the same time have been merged with amazing works of contemporary art and Dutch design.
In 1960, Peter Pulitzer (the grandson of the founder of the Pulitzer Prize) saw the potential in the beautiful but rundown houses of the Amsterdam canals. That’s why he bought a dozen of them and created the oldest five star hotel in the city.
In 2015 and 2016, the hotel underwent the largest refurbishment in its history, creating new communal areas that stand out for their eclectic and elegant design. The author of this refurbishment was Jacu Strauss, a former senior designer at Tom Dixon. Together with his team, he was able to create five star accomodation that lives up to the standard of the Negen Straatjes neighbourhood where it is located. And, as you will be able to see for yourselves, this last reinvention combines historical elements and classic beauty with a unique contemporary style, achieving a memorable and welcoming atmosphere.
The moment you walk in, you will be stunned by the amazing lobby, a product of this refurbishment, which is decorated with Persian rugs, antique furniture and a historic and contemporary art collection.
There is a library adjacent to the lobby that displays the Pulitzer Prize winner books– alluding to the hotel’s history-, as well as a cafeteria that serves drinks and light meals throughout the day, with access to lovely indoor gardens where you can have a drink, breakfast, grab a snack or sit and read.
On sunny days, it’s a sensational place to work, to hold a meeting or to simply contemplate the beautiful surroundings. It’s full of plants, flowers and sculptures and has swings for “adults”, ideal for resting or meditating.
The crown jewel is the indoor garden space, which is an unexpected, serene hiding place in the centre of the hotel.
The 225 rooms at the Pulitzer Amsterdam have everything you could wish for, and they are remarkable for their style and peculiarity, because of how confortable their beds are, for how well soundproofed they are and because they have all the amenities that you can think of – their bath and hygiene products are made by the New York brand Le Labo and they even include a bicycle tyre repair kit (the means of transport in this city).
They also have a series of suites with music, literature and art themes that are to die for. I stayed in the “Art Collector’s Suite”, that is remarkable for its size (54m2), because it has private access from the street and amazing views of the canals, as well as because it is full of works of art and artistic objects, and because it holds the most famous work of art at the Pulitzer: “Hals Brunch” by Thierry de Cromieres. An extraordinary painting measuring 6×2 metres, that was painted specifically for the hotel. In fact, viewed from a certain distance, it has a remarkable resemblance to a Frans Hals masterpiece, “The Last Supper”, but when you come closer, you realise that this version presents modern elements such as Heineken beer cans, a laptop, bubble gum bubbles or hamburgers.
The Pulitzer Amsterdam Hotel is one of the most valuable architectural and cultural icons in the city.
As if this weren’t enough, the hotel has its own boat: a wooden vessel made in 1909 in which Winston Churchill celebrated the allied victory when he visited the Netherlands at the end of World War II, on which you can enjoy a “floating picnic” and sail down its canals. Its gastronomical variety is five-star quality.
On the one hand, there’s the Jansz restaurant that serves a menu of beautifully elaborated modern classics that respect the simplicity of the produce and the quality ingredients. It’s highly recommendable, both because of how delicious its dishes are and for the space and the service which is very professional and friendly. On the other hand, there’s the Pulitzer’s Bar, with soft lighting and lavish furniture in leather, velvet and gold details. Its intimate atmosphere is ideal for tasting some of their delicious original cocktails. A symbolic spot that you shouldn’t miss.
Kimpton de Witt is a refined and elegant boutique hotel located in the heart of Amsterdam.
Due to professional reasons, I divided my trip into two parts. That’s why, after having the Pulitzer Amsterdam experience, I stayed at the Kimpton De Witt hotel.
A charming hotel, in an excellent location, just 300 metres away from the central station and where I was able to disconnect at the end of my busy days, during which I also had time to discover new places that have won me over.
It has 274 rooms and 15 of them are located in original Renaissance buildings. Its décor is elegant, but at the same time it combines different pop-art elements full of colour that give it that sophisticated and up to date but cosy touch. They each have a Nespresso machine with coffee capsules, courtesy of the hotel, amenities by Marie-Stella-Maris and extremely comfortable beds, among many other details that make your stay unforgettable.
The Kimpton de Witt is also home to a restaurant, Celia, that offers California inspired gastronomy. A vibrant hotspot, that stands out for the yellow on its walls and sofas, as well as for its flavoursome dishes that are ideal for sharing such as its fish tacos, grilled octopus or roast cauliflower.
And it also has a bar, the Super Lyan, famous in the city for its cocktails elaborated by Ryan Chetiyawardana (also known as Mr. Lyan) who has been involved with several of the best bars in the world for more than eighteen years. In fact, in 2018, his bar Dandelyan (now closed) was named “World’s Best Bar” by 50 Best Bars and he was also named “UK Bartender of the year” twice and in 2015 he was “International Bartender of the Year”.
Additionally, as the locations of both the Pulitzer Amsterdam and the Kimpton de Witt are very central, I was able to visit the city very easily, both by foot and by bicycle or via its tram service that works wonderfully. In fact, here are some recommendations for you to enjoy when you go.
Modernity, authenticity, classics with soul, trends, tons of art and inspiration wherever you look. Welcome to Amsterdam!
Museums and art galleries:
The city is a work of art in itself. Wherever you look, there is always something interesting and captivating. And if you add galleries, museums and the new mecca of modern art well…. Ladies and Gentlemen, it’s the finishing touch!
Cloud gallery: an art gallery, that is at the same time a shop and a café where they exhibit contemporary art. It is very close to the Pulitzer Hotel.
Stedelijk Museum: my favourite museum in Amsterdam and the most important modern, contemporary art and design museum in the Netherlands. It houses one of the best collections in the world, that includes 90,000 pieces dating from 1870 to current day. Of course, there are other recommendable museums such as the Rijksmuseum or the Rembrandt, but as well as having already visited them, whenever I can I return to the Stedelijk and the Moco Museum. It currently holds a spectacular Bruce Nauman exhibition.
Moco Museum: This boutique museum has an extensive range of very inspiring modern and contemporary art by artists such as Banksy, Jean-Michel Basquiat, JR, KAWS, Keith Haring, Jeff Koons, Yayoi Kusama or Andy Warhol. It’s a unique experience from the moment you step through the door.
Unfair: Unfair ™ Westerpark is the second delivery of this series of pop-up museums located in the middle of one of the most visited public parks in Amsterdam, the Westerpark. Highly recommendable, both the mini museum and everything on offer in the park.
NDSM Wharf: The NDSM occupies the space of an old shipyard to the north of the city, that, for almost 60 years, was one of the largest in the world. Nowadays, behind its walls, there are art galleries, artists and artesan workshops, designer and gastronomical studios that are very interesting. Amongst its hundreds of graffiti and works of street art, Eduardo Kobra’s portrait of Ana Frank stands out. It’s not my favourite place but if you have never been, it’s interesting to visit.
Het Hem: I will talk to you about this place shortly in another article. I will only say that this is the mecca of contemporary art in Amsterdam and that before it was refurbished, it was an old ammunition warehouse. Stay tuned!
Coffee and tea:
If you like specialty coffee, you’ll go nuts over this place. This was my route: Toki – its most instagrammed terrace -, Good Beans, The Coffee District, Rum Baba, Fuku-Friedhats Coffee – I declare myself a fan of their coffee and their branding-,Uncommon coffee and Public Space.
In these last two, they also serve food and it’s excellent. The mushroom toast in Uncommon or the BLT sandwich in Public Space are to die for!
And if you prefer to enjoy a good tea, the truth is there are lots of places in Amsterdam, but I went for Chun’s delicious bubble tea. Their matcha latte with tapioca bubbles is my favourite.
Another option is to go to the AO bar: this place is a dream place in every sense. The “blue bar” specialized in matcha tea is a cozy place that you won’t want to leave.
It frustrates me when I read or listen that you can’t eat well in Amsterdam because it’s not true. Some of my latest discoveries have been:
Jansz, the restaurant at the Pulitzer Hotel; Celia, the restaurant at the Kimpton Der Witt, Flo’s deli, that is not a restaurant but where you can get the best bagels in town; Cornerstore, located in the buzzing neighbourhood of Noord, is one of my favourites. The space is incredible, the service, the music and the atmosphere are great, and you can eat really well. Additionally, they have a very comprehensive wine menu.
De School is a restaurant located in what was once a school. An amazing place, where you can dine wonderfully. It also has a lovely canteen, where they serve Asian dishes at midday; The Duchess, that is inspired in the Belle Époque era. It is located in one of the best-preserved historical gems, the old KAS Bank in the W Hotel Amsterdam. A mix of traditional London hospitality and Viennese grandeur. It also has an Alice in Wonderland style tea room where you can enjoy a traditional afternoon tea, as well as a variety of dainty sweets, macaroons, éclairs, truffles and cotton candy sweets.
Entrepot is a restaurant that is in the symbolic Entrepotdok, an industrial area from the 17th century with many monumental warehouses. In fact, its amazing space is a Dutch cultural heritage site. It is run by the chef Arvid Schmidt and the presenter Xander Waller and here you can taste different dishes elaborated exclusively with local produce; Oficina is another brand-new place. They offer really delicious breakfasts- their granola with home made marmalade is formidable-, special lunches and dinners. The place is small but the Japanese- Nordic aesthetic interior design project is great.
De Kas is an enormous greenhouse converted into a restaurant where they serve dishes made from what they grow there. It’s a culinary experience for the senses. Its menu is exclusively vegetarian and delicious; Euro pizza is a casual place where you can eat exquisite pizza and wine. When the weather is good, its terrace is ideal. It’s also located in Noord; and 4850, that in my opinion is the best haute cuisine restaurant in Amsterdam. It is part of the Michelin Guide and its chef is Túbo Logier. From Monday to Thursday, they offer specialty coffee by La Cabra and their famous cardamom or cinnamon buns; from Thursday to Sunday, they serve a dinner menu made up of 7 dishes; and on Sundays, they offer a lunch menu. A glorious experience.
The truth is if you lose yourselves down the 9 streets, in the centre or down the Utrechtsestraat street for example, you will see a thousand great shops. Belonging to both the better-known brands and other less conventional ones. What you know for sure is that you will find treasures.
These are some of my favourite shops: I love the Aesop brand, and its shop in Amsterdam I in an old pharmacy, it’s the best; Ganni opened its doors last week and is lovely, just like its whole collection; Wildernis is ideal for plant lovers. The shop is a very cute urban jungle; we recommend Arket if you like the Nordic vibe. The shop is enormous and it has women, men and children’s clothes and a home section, as well as a café for a quick stop; if your thing is bikes and cycling, you can’t miss Rapha, that also has a very cosy café; if you want to buy something exceptional, the best place is X Bank, a space that functions as an art gallery and a Concept store and is located in the old historical building that was once the Kas Bank, that opened its doors in 1908 as the first concrete building in Amsterdam. This stunning place was designed Office Winhov and Baranowitz + Kronenberg.
Sukha is a lovely shop where they sell products that have been produced ethically; Casa Gitane and Hay design are two places that are perfect for Home accessories; Mendo is the most beautiful bookshop in the city.
And Hutspot is multi brand shop where you can buy fashion, decoration, books, cosmetics and gifts and which also has a classic photo booth.
Other points of interest:
Although there is a huge amount to see in this city, these are some other interesting hotspots:
Amsterdam’s Hortus Botanicus is one of the oldest Botanical Gardens in the world, as it was created in 1638. It is an ideal spot to disconnect a little from the city and to plunge into “the green”. It has very pleasant café where you can have something to drink and read; and the Rialto Cinema is a classic that dates back to 1920. It’s located in the fascinating De Pijp neighbourhood and it projects independent films.
Enjoy! And if you visit any of these recommended spots, mention us on Instagram: @ccmagazine.es and use the hashtag: #ccmagazinerecommends. Sharing is caring!
(*) Photos: Cecilia Camacho.