The first time I travelled to Amsterdam was back in 2008 for Queen’s ( Now King’s) day, and boy was it a party. It’s the Netherland’s national holiday happening each and every April and it sees over a million visitors take to the streets (and canals) dressed mostly in patriotic orange.
Now, those who know me well, know I rarely complain about a mass rave up, I mean we had a boat, booze and a DJ!! Buuuut due to the sheer volume of people and the craziness of capital, I vowed to return to Amsterdam when it was less chaotic to see this fine city properly.
So that’s exactly what I did. And after spending 48 hours there over two regular weekdays in February , I hereby present to you… My top 4 things to do in Dam
1. Sleep at the Art o’tel
( yes they dropped the ‘H’ so if you google Art Hotel it’s a totally different place )
Why is it awesome?
The Art o’tel, as the name suggests is inspired by art- from it’s look and feel to it’s actual contemporary pieces that are housed within. So if you love an Instagramable gaff, then this is the place for you. One note though, the overarching theme of this art is apparently “fertility” and “life ” so you have to keep an open mind when you run into certain sculptures. I’m talking giant phallic commissions which are maybe not for the conservative consumer 😳😂.
For convenience the Art o’tel is a winner as it’s opposite the central station which if you’re arriving into Schiphol airport is only a 25 minute transfer, door to door. Or you can jump in a cab for around 50 euros (give or take).
The art continues into the rooms of the hotel and since there’s also a giant flat screen tv and lavish bathroom thrown into the mix there’s really very little to complain about when you’re relaxing in your room and getting your head down .
Another nice touch was the Elemis “eyes awake” recovery gel to help out the puffy tired look, found next to bed. Along side this was the “Quiet mind pillow spray” – 💤
This hotel is by no means a vegan friendly establishment ( as I dont think they exist in Dam) but as you’d expect, it does cater for vegetarians so after great night’s sleep, and a soy latte with peanut butter and jam on toast for breakfast, I jumped onto google to find the nearest vegan restaurant to see where lunch would go down.
2. Eat at The Terrazen Cafe
Now there’s no point in lying, Amsrerdam is not THE most vegan friendly place on earth, in fact it’s not even close but I was grateful to learn of one establishment that appeared to be 100% no meat , no dairy AND was walking distance from my hotel.
It’s one thing to find a vegan restaurant , but my excitement reached fever pitch when I saw that it was also billed as being Jamaican and Asian influenced. Although I did wonder how this combo would look and taste.
It’s actually more of a cafe than a restaurant as there’s only one table inside ! But what it lacks in size it makes up for in charm, character and originality. And if like me you wander in mid week for lunch, you should be fine to get a seat and of course you could just order to go.
On the menu I saw things like, “Crispy Chicken roti” and their signature dishes the “Jamaican” or “Vegan Plate” so I made my boyfriend order one and I ordered the other so I could sample both. I mean how else can I conduct proper research 🤓
The food was DELICIOUS and consisted of seasoned crispy “chicken ” (soy protein) veggies , rice , plantain and much more.
Finally the cafe’s owner and chef is none other than a sweet and gentle rasta-vegan, with a passion for the subject, but won’t push it on you if you aren’t ready to hear it. In another words my meat eating boyfriend swerved a lecture.
3. Drink at the W hotel
The W brand has become famous for its rooftop pools or high level bars and the W Amsterdam provides the same opportunity where you can look out across he city while sipping your favourite concoction / cocktail.
Like many of the W hotels, the bar has a great lounge feel with opportunities to spread out in random places, and speaking of random you can even take a seat on the bar – and I mean ON not at.
No excuse not to get served first now.
4. Shop down at de 9 Straatjes
This area is a neighbourhood in Dam consisting of 9 side streets surrounded by Prinsengracht and Singel canals. It’s about a 15-20 min walk from the central station and the aforementioned Art ‘Otel.
If you’re avoiding fluffy clog slippers and touristy tulip key rings then head here as each trendy street is laced with chic restaurants, cool bars, beautiful shops and it’s where the locals go.
Here were some of my favourite fabulous establishments :
OU Boutique by Val + Rose
From juicy juice to superfood smoothies 🍏🍐
Aaaaaand …. More basics 😍