You might have seen on Instagram that just before Christmas, I hopped on a plane and went to Amsterdam for a few days to celebrate M’s birthday. Due to work arrangements it was all a bit last minute so I thought I would put together a quick guide of the best places we found.
It was a short trip, and my first time to Amsterdam, but we still managed to squeeze in lots of sightseeing as well as strolling up and down the cobbled canal streets, eating cheese and croissants, drinking Prosecco and of course the memories from our experiences at the sex museum burned in to our retinas for life!
As we left flights to the last minute and really close to Christmas, return flights were around £160 but if you plan ahead and use sites like Skyscanner you can usually get them really cheap for around £40! And as a bonus, it is only a 45 minute flight from London (my ideal length of flight!)
Where to Stay?
We stayed at the trendy boutique hotel chain, CitizenM, in Amsterdam Zud (South) – it was ultra-chic with fantastic customer service from the second we walked in. The whole hotel is all about design and technology, and the whole experience was seriously lush! I hadn’t heard of the chain before but it came up on Booking.com – the reviews were so good that we just had to book. The hotel has self-check-in, free iMac lounge for people to use, a fantastic lobby space with dreamy coffee table books and every space is just ultra Instagram worthy.
Each bedroom in the hotel is made up of a shipping container so, to maximise the facilities, every inch of the space is so intricately and sleekly designed – the usual 30 seconds you spend exploring a new hotel room and looking for gadgets or freebies, turned into at least 30 minutes!!
Imagine the dream Ikea show room where every cupboard or drawer has something that spins, pulls down or transforms into something else.
Then imagine Ingvar Kamprad (founder of Ikea – yes, I had to look him up!), Arne jacobsen and Michelangelo himself got together and designed the most exciting and unique hotel you’ve ever seen. This is CitizenM.
The rooms are famed for the 2 glass pods on either side of the room – one for the shower and one for the toilet – an exciting piece of design, but let’s just say you need to feel comfortable around your partner! (Don’t worry, the glass has a light frosting, and a curtain that can ‘separate’ the room into two!)
There are lights in the ceiling, and in the glass pods themselves, that can be controlled using the iPad in each room – The ultimate mood lighting, with modes for ‘Party’ where the lights flash different colours to the music, ‘Relax’ where the light sequence has been planned to help you unwind after a long day walking around and even ‘Romance’ where the lights are set to a deep, passionate red if the mood takes you there!
And this iPad can also control the TV, the music, the blinds, the shutters (Yep – shutters and a blind for the ultimate ‘black-out’ room!). The hotel ethos is all about the key things you want from a hotel, luxury and excitement at a reasonable price…and, critically, an enormous wall-to-wall bed! This bed was possibly THE comfiest bed I have ever slept in! And what makes it even better…the massive TV comes with endless free movies and English channels so you can watch the latest films for free when you get back to the hotel at the end of the night.
Although the hotel is not right in the city centre, there is a tram stop right outside which will take you straight into Dam Square and Central, and less than 5-minutes walk to Amsterdam Zud (South) Train / Metro Station, which gives you mainline access to the rest of the area.
Note – definitely check the CitizenM website – their flair for exciting style and design doesn’t stop at the physical hotel itself, you will see evidence of it in their marketing, branding, literature – it’s everywhere.
Also big shout out to the lovely marketing team at Citizen M – I sent them a message to say that we were coming as a birthday treat for M and they came back to say they would love to help me out. The lovely staff decorated the room with balloons, a card and gave us tokens for a free cocktail each in the bar…which were absolutely fantastic!
They also have branches in London, Paris & New York and I need to stay at another one very soon!
What to See?
- Anne Frank House – An absolute must…but definitely book in advance to save the queues
- Visit Dam Square
- Evening stroll around the red light district – it is definitely one to do!
- Sex Museum – EYE opening!
- Head to Museumplein for I AM AMSTERDAM SIGN and Van Gogh Museum
- Shop in Nines street, great selection of vintage and independent boutiques
What to Eat?
On the first night, we were on the hunt for Lombardos Burgers (recommendation from bestie, beware if you go on their Instagram…you will want to eat your phone), we forgot what stop we needed to stop off and our feet were aching and getting very hungry so we decided to change plans and find somewhere closer. Luckily we ended up in the De Pijp area, there were lots of lovely bars, shops and resturants. We wanted burgers so came across Cafe De Pijp, it was a gorgeous dark, candle lit bistro, we scoffed our faces on wine and burgers and left with big happy faces. The De Pijp area is definitely one to check out if you want to get away from the hustle & bustle of central in an environment where the locals go to hang out.
As it was just before Christmas, we were lucky that everywhere in Amsterdam were covered in beautiful Christmas lights and food stalls everywhere.
Mueseumplein near the Van Gogh musuem and the ‘I AM AMSTERDAM’ sign was turned into a Christmas market with an ice rink in the middle, there was lots of little gorgeous food, craft and drinks stalls and vans. They had lots of hay bales for people to relax and people watch. We found glasses of Prosecco with rose syrup for €3, one glass turned into three very quickly as we just absorbed the lovely Christmas atmosphere. One of the drink stalls was a converted caravan selling drinks at the front and the back was turned into a photo booth! (See snap below!)
Also you have to try FEBO in Amsterdam, it is a help-yourself shop where you can hot snacks, all you do is find the window of the food you want, put in the right change and the door will ping straight open! They do hamburgers, fried cheese croquette and frikandellen.
And can we take a second to appreciate that on every street there are bakeries selling waffles, cookies and muffins!
As usual, our trips involves a lot of sampling the food and drink as well as a lot of sightseeing…like, a lot…take FLAT shoes, trust me! My feet ached at the end of the day!
I want to go back again already, it is so close to the UK and there are still a lot of things we would like to do!
Would love to know about any recommendations you have for Amsterdam?