Recent years have seen Amsterdam, The Netherlands’ crown jewel, accelerating into the future. An influx of new cultural institutions, hotels, and distinctly modern cafes, shops, and galleries have cemented the city’s place among the must-see metropolises of Europe. But even with all its new energy, Amsterdam still brims with history. The canals that define the city’s layout lend it an old-world intimacy — Amsterdam’s narrow, townhouse-lined streets are ideal for wandering, with charming, quirky gems to be discovered around every corner. The city’s rich artistic heritage offers a spoil of masterpieces by the likes of Van Gogh, Rembrandt, and Vermeer. The deep, moody tones of Dutch Old Masters’ paintings come to life when viewed in their place of origin, and continue to color Amsterdam’s new generation of creatives.
Below, Larkspur & Hawk’s guide to the highlights of Amsterdam’s past and present.
Seven One Seven, a picturesque mansion in the heart of the Canal District, has the feel of a stylishly-appointed private home. Its nine guestrooms are filled with a refined mix of antiques and curiosities, for a quintessentially Dutch sense of coziness. Located in a former office building, the decidedly hip Hotel V Nespelin combines industrial architecture with eclectic furnishings. Despite being situated in the bustling city center, The Dylanoffers a peaceful respite across two canalside buildings. Its airy, wood-beamed lofts are an ideal marriage of historic architecture and contemporary design.
Amsterdam’s art is not to be missed: the Rijksmuseum is the city’s oldest and largest museum, spanning works from the Middle Ages to the 20th century; the Van Gogh museum illuminates the artist’s life through an impressively comprehensive collection; the Rembrandt House museum allows one to view Rembrandt’s works in his actual home and studio, immaculately restored to feel as if you’re stepping back into the 17th century. The expansive Vondelpark offers lush gardens and an idyllic setting for bike rides. Beyond Amsterdam, Maastricht is a quaint destination for admiring an array of historic churches and world-class antiques while Delft, the origin of hand-painted blue and white pottery known as Delftware, houses centuries-old ceramics manufacturers and an arts center dedicated to Vermeer.
Gartine is a small, unassuming spot beloved for its traditional breakfast and teatime fare, and shabby-chic setting. A bit out of the way but worth the trek, De Kas is located in a soaring greenhouse with an on-site farm that provides fresh produce for an ever-changing menu of seasonal cuisine. Spanning five 17th century canal houses, D’Vijff Vlieghen serves classical Dutch dishes in sumptuous digs, embellished with Delftware tiles and original Rembrandts. For cocktails, try Bar Bukowski for a modern take on the traditional cafes where one can linger and people watch all day.
Like a shoppable wunderkammer, the Renaissance-era cabinets of curiosities, The Otherist stocks everything from framed butterflies and beetles to locally-made cutlery. X-Bank is dedicated to contemporary Dutch design — encompassing fashion, furniture, art, and décor — in gallery-like space. Sleek, sprawling Mendo is a temple to design-minded books with a notable selection of rare, out-of-print titles. For antiques, Eduard Van Dishoeck is a fifth-generation dealer with a diverse mix of collectibles procured from all over the globe.