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5 Minute Guide: Amsterdam

Waldorf Astoria hotel, AmsterdamWaldorf Astoria, Amsterdam

Combining the buzz of a metropolis with bags of small town charm, Amsterdam has it all, says Shaney Hudson

1. About: Often considered one of Europe’s most underrated cities, it’s packed with history, brimming with culture and home to an incredible art collection. Geographically, the city is defined by its canals, which ripple in concentric circles from its Central Station. However, what’s most remarkable about Amsterdam is that despite its world-class attractions, the city has a unique, inclusive atmosphere and has managed to retain a small village feel.

2. Hotel: Opened in May 2013, the exclusive Waldorf-Astoria Amsterdam consists of six discreet, interconnected townhouses. The 93-room hotel features a private interior garden, Guerlain spa, basement bar and lavish lounge overlooking the Herengracht canal. The hotel is also home to the new and celebrated restaurant Librije’s Zusje Amsterdam, sister restaurant to the three Michelin star De Librije. waldorfastoria.com/amsterdam

Rijksmuseum. Image: John Lewis Marshall

Rijksmuseum. Image: John Lewis Marshall

3. Attraction: In November 2014, the Rijksmuseum opened its new Philips exhibition wing to the public, a final stage of the museum’s epic 10-year renovation. With 8,000 objects, the museum is home to one of Europe’s best collections of fine art. Along with works by Van Gogh and Vermeer, showstoppers include Rembrandt’s The Night Watch and the museum’s collection of ornate 17th-century doll’s houses. rijksmuseum.nl

4. Building: Anne Frank House remains one of the most important buildings in Amsterdam, home to the Secret Annex where diarist Anne Frank and her family hid before being discovered during World War II. Today, the line to visit curls around a city block, but the feeling of climbing up to where Anne hid is unparalleled. annefrank.org

5. Shop: One of Amsterdam’s best-kept secrets, De 9 Straatjes (nine streets) is a concentrated grid of shopping streets on the Prinsengracht, Keizersgracht and Herengracht canals. The area is home to an eclectic mix of quirky cafes, boutiques, art galleries and vintage emporiums. For those after Dutch design, Marlies Dekkers and atelier Hester van Eeghen have shops in the area. de9straatjes.nl

Anne Frank House. Image: Toala Olivares

Anne Frank House. Image: Toala Olivares

6. Restaurant: A favorite with locals, visitors and critics, Restaurant Greetje is renowned for its home-style Dutch cooking and reasonable prices. The hearty seasonal menu is based on locally sourced and organic produce, and signature dishes include crispy black pudding with apple compote and veal gravy. Not to be missed is their entree of Frysian sugar bread with duck liver terrine and home-made apple syrup. restaurantgreetje.nl

7. Bar: Located beside one of the city’s last remaining windmills, the Brouwerij ’t IJ brewery is a popular summertime spot for its sunny outdoor terrace and locally produced craft beer. The brewery produces a number of beers on site, including their Zatte, an organic tripel blonde beer, and Natte, a dubbel dark beer. Brewery tours are available at weekends. brouwerijhetij.nl

8. View: Amsterdam is a city best seen from the water. Traveling by boat allows a different perspective on the centuries-old mansions, crooked merchant houses, bridges and waterways that make up the 400-year-old canal belt, which achieved UNESCO World Heritage status in 2010. Hour-long canal cruises depart hourly from outside Central Station, while many luxury hotels can also arrange private charters for guests.

PUBLISHED IN THE WINTER 2014/15 EDITION OF ASTAnetwork

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