Welcome to Backpacker’s Boutique. Every Sunday, this spot will feature a new travel blogger. Some weeks it will be a really fun interview about packing, fashion, and fitness so you can snoop inside their bags & lives a little bit and other weeks it’ll be a detailed luxury guide to a city the featured blogger/expat knows very well. E-mail me if you’d like to be featured.
A Luxury Guide to Amsterdam
Tell us a little about yourself and tell us why you’re an expert on luxury travel in Amsterdam.
Hi, I’m Ivana and I’ve been living in Amsterdam for more than 5 years now. I studied law and communications at the University of Amsterdam and also found a job at one of the best PR firms in the country, based in the city. My work actually required me to get into the luxury places as the clients simply demanded the hottest and most luxurious places in the city as event locations. My boyfriend is an artist manager in the dance music industry so he always knows the best places to dance. Also I have journalist friends in the city who always update me about the best places to go.
What makes Amsterdam a perfect destination for travelers seeking a glamorous trip?
Amsterdam in general is not the most glamorous city, it’s usually described as raw and edgy. In the last couple of years though the luxury hotels, spa’s and clubs have been on the rise. The hipsters of the city are definitely looking for it so this demand needs a supply. The glamour in the city is usually very Scandinavian based: minimalistic, sharp lines and lots of black and white. This goes for interiors, fashion and the food.
What 5 star hotel is the best in Amsterdam?
These are actually quite booming at the moment so I’ll mention a couple:
- The most popular 5* hotel is The Conservatorium hotel. An amazing historic building with huge ceilings and yet it manages to have a very comfy and cozy vibe. Fantastic place for a coffee (or hot chocolate in fall/winter) as well.
- The Waldorf Astoria doesn’t need explaining I guess but here you’ll find a more international and, if I may say so, conservative crowd.
- The Amstel Hotel is a classic and has a gorgeous location at the river. The high tea here is amazing too.
- The Hoxton Hotel is a really nice relaxed 5* hotel with a serious hipster vibe (a lot of Dutch famous actors hang out here).
- The W Hotel just opened, so for the next couple of months it’s probably going to be very popular.
What about boutique hotels in Amsterdam, of them all, which would you send your friends or family to stay at?
I really love the vibe of the Dylan hotel and The College Hotel is cool as well. The Concious Hotel looks awesome and is eco-friendly too.
Are there any fun activities for the adventurous traveler in Amsterdam?
It’s really simple but try the water-bikes in the canals instead of the regular tour boats. They’re a lot harder to navigate than you would think but it’s double the fun (also free workout!). In winter there’s a cool ice skating ring at Leidseplein.
In summer go to the deli Bilder & de Clerq or Marqt, head over to the Amsterdamse bos or the Amstelpark (way cooler, more beautiful and peaceful than Vondelpark!) and have a picknic. If you like the crowds you can also picknic at the edge of the canals. Even the most fancy locals love to grab a bottle of wine, some snacks (cheese!) and just watch the people pass by.
Where are the best hang outs during the day in Amsterdam?
It depends on the weather. In summer everybody is outside on a terrace, having a picknic or at the beach. You can try the city beach Strand Zuid, the terrace of the Hilton Skylounge or one of the super cute places in the historic area de Jordaan. One of my favorite beaches, Wijk aan Zee, is actually a little drive from Amsterdam (20 minutes) but totally worth it. In winter Cafe Brecht is really cool with a very vintage living room feel and they have a lot of exclusive tea varieties. You can also hang out at one of the many new coffee houses, coffee&coconuts just recently opened and Scandinavian Embassy also makes a good cup of coffee. My all time favorite is T, which also has a vintage living room feel and delicious scones.
If you have a big date night, what are the most delicious restaurants in Amsterdam and what are their best dishes?
Lute (De Oude Molen 5, 1184 VW Amstelveen, Netherlands) is an all time favorite of mine. Not the most common place (also a bit out of the centre) but their food is always gorgeous, extremely beautifully plated and of course tastes delicious as well. Het Bosch is also a really nice place, especially in summer when you can also sit outside. For extremely good pizza (I am talking about the smoked truffle ricotta kind) go to Gustavino (closed in the weekends). For the best sushi go to the Okura Hotel’s Ciel Bleu (and afterwards have a cocktail with a view in their bar). In the centre I would recommend Rijks, the recently opened restaurant attached to the restored Rijksmuseum.
Let’s talk desserts- what place makes the best dessert in Amsterdam?
Any of the above mentioned restaurants have fantastic desserts. I must say I am a huge sucker for the custom made Magnum ice creams. If the store is open (best to Google this one before you go, usually it’s only open in summer time and has different locations) make sure to make one. The dark chocolate, chili, violets and roses version is my favorite. Also don’t skip the Nutella store in the Leidsestraat.
Tell us all the hot shopping spots; who’s carrying the trendy local designers?
The easiest place to shop designers (also local) is the Bijenkorf. A huge department store right at Dam Square. For a more local feel you can shop at the P.C. Hooftstraat. Make sure to not miss Shoobaloo. They have amazing designer shoes! Not a fashion brand but any luxury car lover will drool in the awesome Tesla store located in the P.C. Hooftstraat. Also for more local and edgy designers check out the stores at the 9 straatjes area.
What are a couple of the best salons and spas in Amsterdam?
The Conservatorium Hotel Akasha Spa is one of the best in the city. There are not many places to match it.
Time for a great sunset view… where would you go?
Either the Okura Hotel bar or the Hilton SkyLounge.
If you end the night at a fancy club, which one do you head towards?
Jimmy Woo is a classic and still one of my favorites. Make sure to wear heels, do your hair and get your make up on. The door policy is quite strict! Club Air and Club Abe are also cool. Paradiso is one of the oldest and most gorgeous venues in town. It used to be a church and attending a concert here is magic. Definitely check their agenda if there’s a concert you want to see. Finally if you are up for a challenge Club Nyx is also one of my favorites. Be aware though: it’s a gay club and it also looks very grimey/raw/edgy. This is the real Amsterdam clubbing if you are up for it.
Born in former Jugoslavia, now a Dutch National living in Amsterdam, Ivana is never in the same place for long. She travels mostly alone but through her daily travel vlogs on YouTube channel EnterpriseMe TV she takes along more than 13.000 people along on her journey every day. Not everybody is able or willing to travel to new places, especially by themselves. Ivana’s travel vlogs will take you all across the world every day, without even having to leave your couch or spend a dime. This year alone she visited Indonesia, Taiwan, South-Korea, China, Hong Kong, Thailand, France, Monaco, Italy, Croatia, Malaysia and India. Subscribe to her YouTube channel and follow her on Instagram and/or Twitter to travel along.
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