I find Amsterdam to be a fascinating city because it has so many different angles & perspectives. Of course there is the gritty side, the adult play ground of Europe, but there is also the side of art, culture and beauty. The latter is what I focused on during this last trip.
A friend of mine, Cat, moved to Amsterdam a few years ago and set up a B&B while she is building a new hotel. She is incredibly entrepreneurial, has an extremely creative mind and appreciates the arts, so Amsterdam is the perfect place for her to call home. Her neighborhood, Fredriksplein, is quiet yet centrally located - adjacent the center canal ring, the Amstel river and the shopping street Utrechtsestraat. This is an area where everybody knows each other, you have a perfect café around the corner, many shops and restaurants but not overwhelmed with tourism.
Of course we kicked off with champagne at her perfectly decorated, fresh B&B. It's three stories, two bedroom / two bath and adorns several nooks and crannies to curl up with friends, a book or wine & cheese. The highlight for me is the back patio area. Due to the large windows, the garden feels to flow in and out of the house. For those wishing to book an individual room, please visit joiebnb.com and email Cat directly at email@example.com
We continued my visit in the best way possible - by going to the cheese shop, picking out a couple of special items and enjoying them on the canal. We watched the boats go by and bantered with the relaxed passengers. After our snack was consumed, I looked up and realized the Waldorf Astoria was right across the way! Of course we had to pop in, explore the common areas and enjoy a glass of wine in the gardens. This hotel is very classic, peppered with artistic pieces to give it a unique sense of place.
Afterwards, we indulged in a tasting menu at Guts n' Glory while chatting with the staff and other visitors. This was the perfect selection as Cat used to be a vegetarian, then later earned the nickname "Bacon". This intimate restaurant alternates tasting menus based on different sources of inspiration - this time it was Spain, lucky me.
We commenced the next day by doing what locals do - visiting the flower market and picking out some seasonal gems. One of my favorite things about this city is the gardens overflowing from homes and the celebration of vibrant flowers everywhere. What a wonderful inspiration to feel beautiful nature in the city.
Since Cat is also in the hotel business, we were both eager to get out and explore some favorites. We started with a wonderful tour of and lunch at the Andaz. This is in the Nine Streets area, which is where most of the hotels are located. I loved the eclectic design of the Andaz, which was curated by Marcel Wonders. He has such a tasteful yet playful style that makes you feel like you're lost in Alice in Wonderland.
Afterwards we wondered to other hotels in the Nine Streets such as The Dylan and Pulitzer. These are both smaller and more quaint hotels where both locals and tourists mix to enjoy the dining outlets and gardens. We then strolled through parks across town, as I very much wanted to see the Conservatorium. This is a larger hotel with amenities like luxury boutique shops in the lobby, yet it still retains the local charms. I like this area because it's very close to Museumplein, which is exactly what it sounds to be. The Van Gough is a favorite, and the "Amsterdam"sign is always a treat to see.
We concluded my all to brief visit with dinner at Cat's favorite local sushi spot - Ku Kitchen and Bar. The eclectic, creative was style was much appreciated - and I enjoyed my first baked avocado ever (extremely surprising for this California girl). This was the perfect ending to a lovely visit. And their new opening, Ku West, with brunch during the day is just one of the many reasons I will be back to visit Cat soon.