amsterdam-canalside

Clogs. Stag dos. Prostitutes. Forget everything you think you know about Amsterdam because there is so much more to this city than canals and cannabis.

It’s impossible not to fall in love with the “Venice of the North” after a few days spent careening your bicycle over twinkling bridges and ogling Rembrandts through the windows of mansions along the grachten. Hop over for a weekend in this compact city and you’ll leave with a warm, fuzzy feeling – and not just thanks to those coffee shops.

TO STAY

Sir Albert Hotel

Housed in a former 18th-century diamond factory in the achingly cool De Pijp, Sir Albert is hip but not overtly so, and draws an older, more understated crowd as a result. Its 90 rooms are spread across five floors and in contrast to the darkly-lit communal areas of the hotel, boast huge windows and white walls, with flecks of chocolate-coloured décor adding a flash of indulgence. Downstairs, the hotel bar buzzes most nights, while trailblazing Japanese fusion restaurant, IZAKAYA, makes an impressive culinary impact. Make friends with the concierge and you might just score the password to a secret, smoke-filled cocktail bar behind The Butcher, an affiliated burger joint.

JL No 76

You’ll have a hard time drawing yourself out of bed at the JL No 76, as the natural Coco Mat mattresses have seaweed and coconut fibre woven into them for easy breathing and the most comfortable sleep of your life. Despite being nestled in the bosom of the Rodeo Drive of Amsterdam, the PC Hoofstraat, the hotel is accessible and subdued, with some cheeky design elements – think dog sculptures sporting crash helmets in the lobby and works by Dutch artist Barbara Broekman in the bedrooms. The rooms in these converted 18th-century mansions are sleek and monochrome, with keen attention paid to guest comfort. The leafy back garden will have you feeling like a local, as will the bikes offered just outside the lobby. Fortify yourself for a day of museum hopping in the nearby Museum Quarter with the traditional Dutch pancakes offered at breakfast.

Conservatorium

There is no doubt that this stylish hotel incredibly luxurious, but what you might not know is that it is also Green Globe certified, meaning you can feel virtuous about this not-so-little indulgence. Architect Piero Lissoni has transformed the bank building that once housed the city’s most prestigious music conservatory into a sweeping, contemporary space that’s all clean lines and expansive windows. Though the palette is generally muted, vibrant flashes of colour and original features like Delftware wall tiles and stained glass keep this feeling supremely Dutch. The futuristic lap pool and spa makes this hotel a must-stay for a long weekend in Amsterdam.

The Hoxton

If you want to feel like a local, and an important city official at that, head to the Herengracht and check into the Hoxton, home to Amsterdam’s mayor back in the 17th century. With one of the most desirable addresses in the city, the Hoxton is spread over five converted canal houses and is just around the corner from the Anne Frank House. Though the hotel is industrial chic it doesn’t feel cold thanks to warm wood tones, oriental rugs and remnants of the heritage houses it fills, such as original stone fireplaces and high, exposed-beam ceilings. Lottis, the restaurant in the lobby, is run in conjunction with Soho House and serves up Dutch favourites like bitterballen, as well as mean bloody marys.

The Generator

Amsterdam Oost (East) is like Shoreditch 15 years ago – up-and-coming. While it’s not in the town centre, the Generator is inexpensive and a far cry from your typical hostel featuring bunkbeds and crusty sheets. Keen attention to design details makes this budget option still feel special, though the communal spaces do have the bustling, youthful energy making it easy to meet fellow visitors. While either twin or quadruple rooms can be booked, it’s perfect for a group trip, with a plush apartment overlooking the Oosterpark that can house up to six – ideal if you want to save a little money for extra biertjes and poffertjes.

Hotel Pulitzer

A masterpiece of Dutch design, Hotel Pulitzer stretches between 25 connecting canal houses that each date back to the 17th century. Nods to this illustrious heritage are visible in every space, with luxe furnishings and antique furniture standing beautifully side-by-side throughout. Upgrade to one of the suites and you’ll have an extensive library and a standalone bath to make the most of, and be sure to pop into Jansz, the hotel restaurant where the city’s well-heeled and hip hangout. Located within Nine Streets, The Pulitzer is a must if shopping is high on your agenda – this is where the fashionistas flock en masse.

The Toren

Those fond of over-the-top, French-inspired opulence will feel right at home at The Toren, which revels in lavish extravagance. Here, you’ll find velvet wallpaper, crystal chandeliers and four-poster beds, as well as double Jacuzzis in most rooms. More appropriate for a romantic break than a parental bonding trip, this is the kind of place to channel Nicole Kidman in Moulin Rouge.

Sir Adam

Sir Adam has a mirrorball and a mini disco dance floor in one of its elevators – and that’s one of the subtler design features. Most rooms have panoramic, floor-to-ceiling windows looking out onto river below, Gibson guitars hanging from the walls and vinyl players with accompanying libraries to get stuck into, not to mention a sleek, industrial design polished off with a rock ‘n’ roll flourish. Be sure to take advantage of the Sir Explore concept, which lets you discover the city with the friendly guidance of a clued-up local – the crate digging tour is a must for music fans.

The Dylan

Renowned as one of the city’s finest boutique offerings, The Dylan specialises in under-the-radar excellence. Here, the atmosphere is refined and the decorsumptuous, drawing a particularly refined crowd as a result. It’s centrally located amid all the devilishly enticing boutiques of the Nine Streets, but thanks to a gorgeous little courtyard out front, remains detached from the hustle and bustle. Each room was created by famed Dutch designer Remy Meijers – a bonus on top of the hotel’s exclusive charm.

Crane Hotel Faralda

Yes, it’s in an actual crane, and yes, that does sound ridiculous, but what can we say? We’re partial to off-the-wall properties in lofty locations, and in this case, the rather nutty decor that accompanies it. As you’d expect, the view is one of the main draws – each of the three suites it houses look out across the IJ river towards central Amsterdam and at sunset, it’s pretty spectacular. It’s also the weirdly eccentric design that we applaud – plastic red pigs and puffed up peacocks feature. Plus there’s a hot tub on the roof, so you know, that too.

The Generator

The Hoxton

Conservatorium

JL No 76

Sir Albert Hotel

The Pulitzer

The Toren

Sir Adam

The Dylan

Crane Hotel Faralda

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