AMSTERDAM: MORE THAN JUST THE RED LIGHT DISTRICT
LLOYD HOTEL & CULTURAL EMBASSY The hotel has 117 different bedrooms all decorated uniquely by over 40 Dutch artists and designers. It is the first “one to five star” hotel in the world, offering a wide variety of rooms. The history of the hotel is fascinating. In the 20’s it was a safe haven for immigrants- housing up to 900 people. The eclectic artwork and history soaked hotel will leave you wanting to explore the grounds for hours, not to mention the gorgeous breakfast buffet with mimosas which was the icing on the cake.
GENERATOR HOSTEL AMSTERDAM This giant and quirky hostel is a playground for its guests. The hostel is located in the up-and-coming eastern part of the city with the gorgeous green Oosterpark for your backyard. With private ensuite rooms to 6 person apartments, the hostel is equipped for any kind of traveler. One of our favorite parts was the many different lounge areas to hang out in. A former lecture hall turned bar has people taking turns on the DJ table where you can snag a Dutch beer and mingle with fellow travelers. The late night bar was the perfect spot for us to take a break for some beer and photo editing but what surprised us the most was you couldn’t hear a peep from your bedroom.
RESTAURANT DE KAS Serving a daily fixed menu with on site seasonal nursery fresh produce, the restaurant is in an old green house from the 1920’s. We had the honor of a personal tour of the grounds from Chef Bas Wiegel. We saw where rhubarb, tomatoes, artichokes, strawberries, chard, and lots of other veggies grow (they’re picked and served on your plate within hours). We enjoyed the 3 course lunch with colorful fresh vegetables and local fish and meat along with the most delicious olive oil, bread, and house champagne. The venue is absolutely stunning with light pouring in from all directions.
RESTAURANT OLIJFJE This Mediterranean Tapas restaurant has an incredibly cozy atmosphere and kind servers. We couldn’t get enough of the shared tapas and how reasonably priced they were. The owner made sure everyone in the restaurant was satisfied and apparently remembers everyone that comes back a second time.
PANCAKES AMSTERDAM Trying Dutch pancakes is an absolute must while visiting Amsterdam. The staple dish is unlike the pancakes we are used to back in America. They are HUGE! We recommend trying one savory and one sweet option. The location is in the center of Amsterdam and right in the middle of the hustle and bustle of the canals.
SKYLOUNGE The lounge has sweeping views of the entire city on the top floor of the downtown Hilton. Grab a drink at the bar and enjoy the sunset over Amsterdam. When we were there on a Wednesday evening there was a DJ and quite the crowd with ample lounge space and 180 degree views.
DAMRAK STREET I found myself repeatedly going back to this vantage point of the stunning canal. The skinny, tall buildings line the water and the reflection is one of a kind.
THE JORDANN To be honest, the entire town is stunning. Wander around the canals and slip in and out of coffee shops and quaint cafes. The crooked houses all light up with warm insides that reflect along the water.
SIDE TRIP: BRUGES & GHENT
We rented a car from SIXT at the bottom of the Hilton hotel and set off (way later than planned) to Belgium for the day! We made our way first to the medieval town of Bruges. For hours we wandered around photographing the gorgeous old town area and ate Belgium waffles (of course). We then drove an hour away to the University town of Ghent which we instantly fell in love with. Dinner parties took place on little canal boats while the outdoor patios were swarming with locals soaking up the warm weather. The castles and canal were one of a kind. We recommend staying at least one or two nights in the region.