It was only a matter of time before we covered a city famous for sex. But Amsterdam is really less about the Red Light District and coffee shops than it is about great Dutch architecture, trendy restaurants, and great vintage shopping.
Mac Bike Rental
+31 20 620 0985, Macbike.nl
In Amsterdam, biking is the means of transportation. Although utilitarian for those who live there, it can also be incredibly romantic to leisurely pedal around the canals, or even hold hands while riding side by side (don’t get too close, or else the handlebars will get caught together). Take a trip along Herengracht, Keizersgracht, or Prinsengracht, three parallel canals that will take you past the Anne Frank House or the Westerkerk (one of the oldest Protestant churches in the city).
Wibautstraat 150, 7th floor
+31 20 716 3817, Canvasopde7e.nl
Going to this club-cum-resto feels a bit like you’re on your way to the hippest, most underground Brooklyn party. In an unassuming building (it’s actually a warehouse for artists’ spaces), a graffiti- and sticker-bombed elevator takes you to the 7th floor, where seemingly out of nowhere there’s a room of bustling tables and a bar with an incredible outdoor area. But don’t just come for the drinks and DJs — eats include delicious wasabi tuna, ribeye steaks, and gourmet burgers.
Leidseplein Theater, Leidseplein 12
+31 20 423 0101, Boomchicago.nl
Going to an American comedy show on a European vacation might be the last thing you’d imagine doing, but don’t discount Boom Chicago. The improv show, which has helped launch the careers of some “SNL” members like Seth Myers, often plays on humorous elements of Dutch and American cultures. So it’s worth it to go if not to, um, learn about the Dutch people, then to laugh at your own.
|The Times Hotel
+31 20 330 6030, Thetimeshotel.nl
Located on one of the three central canals, the Times Hotel brings together the best of the traditional Dutch world and new design. From the outside, the hotel is a typical 1650s townhouse, yet the inside is completely modernized by minimalist furniture and bright, solid colors. Each room features a reproduction of a work by a Dutch master like Vermeer, yet somehow manages to do so in a completely untacky manner.
Anna van den Vondelstraat 6
+31 20 683 3013, Hoteldefilosoof.nl
For those who put brains before beauty, Hotel de Filosoof’s philosophically-themed accommodations are a wet dream. In the “Nietzsche” room, red decorations refer to his book, Morengröte, which reflects on moral prejudices (oooh, sexy). Couples looking for something more romantic should check out the “Passion” room, dedicated to Georges Bataille’s exploration of the Greek love god, Eros.
|ROMANTIC DINNER A DEUX|
+31 20 679 7176, Restaurantlegarage.nl
Aptly named, this restaurant is housed in what used to be an old garage. Here, fusion cuisine feeds the most fashionable of Amsterdammers (yes, you need a reservation) in a space that tries to embody old glamour with lots of mirrors and red banquettes. Couples should dress fancy to see and be seen, but you can always head to the next-door lounge, En Pluche, for a nightcap tête à tête.
+31 20 627 4079, Werck.nl
Right next to the Anne Frank House in the Jordaan neighborhood, Werck used to be the coach house for the Westerkerk Church. The woody interior makes for a warm and cozy space that also looks out on the canal. The bistro cuisine here is top-notch — try the duck confit or the stewed rabbit leg with truffle potatoes. On the weekends, Werck turns into an after-dark scene with dancing and live bands.
+31 20 427 0551, Skek.nl
‘Skek is a student-run restaurant and bar, which means it’s ripe with smart twenty-something locals. The first room is a bustling lounge, where it’s tough to get a seat at the bar. Next door, the restaurant serves a variety of eats from gourmet pasta dishes to straightforward burgers. You might find yourself sitting next to a couple on a date, but more likely a large group of fratboys out on the town. (N.B. Fratboys in Amsterdam aren’t your average beer-drinking jocks; thanks to being European, they’re well-dressed and groomed, and generally pretty classy.)
|Amsterdam Public Library
The new public library on the waterfront merits a visit based on its cool factor alone–the super-modern white interior astounds floor after floor. But it’s also always busy and also well-designed for interaction with clusters of mod pod chairs, an excellent music/DVD section to hunt for artsy guys, and a bar on the top floor.
Cornelis Schuytstraat 13
+31 20 471 4146, Marliesdekkers.nl
Marlies Dekkers may be the La Perla of the Netherlands, but there’s nothing dainty about her lingerie designs. Her bras often feature sexy straps — either around the cup or forming an X over the chest — that give the wearer a vixen vibe.
+31 20 320 0081, Skyfashion.nl
If you’ve had enough of Dutch fashion (there is such a thing with Filippa K stores on nearly every block), head to SKY for boho-chic French designers. Here you’ll find mod APC coats, girly Isabel Marant tops, and draped tops by Etoile.
+31 20 624 9066, Lauradols.com
In the trendy Nine Streets area, vintage shops dot the streets, and one of the most whimsical is Laura Dols. Super-packed racks showcase crazy clothes from nearly every era. You’ll find lace dresses from the ’20s alongside flashy ’80s prom gowns and classy wool skirts from the ’50s.