Amsterdam. Have you been? No? Well, you probably should. After all, it’s only a short 40 minute plane journey direct from London. But less of this #airplanechat, we’ve got more important things to be telling of.
Y’know in the opening titles of Sex and the City where Carrie passes the four girls laughing as they shop? Picture it. Well, that’s Amsterdam. In what’s easily one of the most entertaining cities in Europe — you can shop, you can laugh, and you can drink until the very early hours. And we did all three!
After just a short 25 minute taxi ride from Schiphol Airport we made it to our home away from home for this trip – the newly reopened Hotel NH Collection Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky. Part of the premium NH Collection chain of hotels, staying here gives you the chance to experience your own slice of paradise.
“I’m proud to open this hotel today, and I’m proud of the hotel and home we’ve created for you,” NH Hotels CEO Federico J Gonzalez Tejera said to us when we arrived; a sense of pride beaming from his longing smile.
The five star hotel is found in Dam Square, meaning it’s perfectly placed for all your requirements. With the building open to the public as a hotel complex dating back to 1855, the twisting mix of present and old age highlights the impressive changes that’ve been made. And with 451 guest rooms — and a bloody impressive bath — leaving this bubble of perfection becomes a difficult task daily. But fear not, as one more step along the yellow brick road leads you into the arms of a bustling city of treats.
It’s doubtful you’ve gone through your life without hearing about what happens in Amsterdam. No, not those bits, but the picturesque postcard look of a city intertwined by water. The capital of the Netherlands, the grand architecture and artistic heritage, snug canals and narrow housing that divides much of its 17th century Golden Age-look will keep you busy snapping for hours.
Arriving in the early evening, we first indulged our taste buds at a rather funky pop-up restaurant. Open for a limited season, Olof’s — under the direction of chef Christopher Naylor, who’s one of the hotel’s three Michelin-starred chefs -— is situated in the oldest chapel in Amsterdam; the ideal setting for an evening with friends. Walking the short journey back, we stumbled past young families, stag parties and same-sex couples arm-in-arm. With the Netherlands the first country in the world to legalise same-sex marriage, equality for all is certainly something they live by. Glass of bubbly in hand, we saluted to the clear skies and our time with NH Hotels, Amsterdam.
The next morning, sunlight pierced through the curtains to wake us. Just in time, we headed to the hotels historic tiled Winter Garden dining hall where breakfast is served for guests every day. Who knew the simple act of waking up and chowing down on some patisseries could ever feel, and look, so bloody good?
Just a short tram ride from your doorstep finds Amsterdam’s Museum Quarter. For those looking for a cultural daily fix, you’ll be more than spoilt. Pieces worth over the £1million mark by the likes of Rembrandt and Vermeer feature at the Rijksmuseum, which sits alongside the Van Gogh Museum and modern art at the Stedelijk. And not forgetting the Palace of Amsterdam back at the opposing side of Dam Square, for those not wanting to travel. Although most require ticketed entry, prices are low and present the ideal daytime activity for all ages.
Next to nearby Vondelpark — the city’s largest park — is the Museum Neighbourhood; a mecca for shopping lovers. Pieter Cornelisz Hooftstraat is a shopping street of international brands, with Jacob Obrechtstraat and Cornelis Schuytstraat streets for those in need of local and independent boutiques. And after a trip down the intertwining canals, we enjoyed the delectable delights once again of NH Collection Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky Michelin-starred chefs.
Can’t ride a bike? Learn! Cycling in the city is a must. MUST! And if you don’t cycle, you’ll struggle to take a step without the piercing sound of ringing bells letting you know you’ve wandered across blurred lines of pavement and cycle path. After all, there’s a whopping 400km of cycle path in the capital alone to explore – or, as we did, tiptoe around.
They say that variety is the spice of life, and none more so than here. With food options aplenty, the mixture of cheese, pancakes and Bitterballen give your senses a party of their own. With lunch options at the hotel available, we mixed between the comfort of the hotel, local cafe and street to perfect that delicious dining experience. The Amsterdam Cheese Company, The Pancake Bakery or Cafe de Tuin are excellent suggestions if you’re caught away from the Grand Hotel. Oh, not forgetting to sample the varied selection of local Dutch gin and liqueurs also on offer, too!
It was time to ditch the tourist look for our best shirt and tie at the hotel’s official re-opening party. Having drank and danced our way into the early hours, it seemed only inevitable that sampling the local nightlife was a must. And the gay scene? It’s just as fun as all the stories you’ve no doubt heard before. There’s a selection of bars within walking distance from the hotel where you can dance until sunrise, all in the reassurance that your breakfast will be waiting come morning.
Never without a surprise, other nightly entertainment available includes a historical tour through the country’s famous Red Light District. Discretion, of course, is advised.
As we sit frantically editing photos to post on Instagram back at breakfast the next morning, the realisation of leaving soon hits. With NH Collection opening Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky, Barbizon Palace and Doelen, the introduction of these glorious hotels make the thought of leaving that little bit easier knowing we can soon return to stay in another one of the NH Collections.
With a traditional lunch at the Grand Café Krasnapolsky complete, we said a sad goodbye to the city we just can’t wait to return to!
GT travelled with British Airways, britishairways.com. @british_airways. Prices at NH Collection Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky begin from €200 per night for a superior room, excluding Amsterdam city tax. For more information, please visit; nh-collection.com, @nhcollectioneb