Pillows Anna van den Vondel
Anna van Den Vondelstraat 6
Pillows Amsterdam is in the Oud-Ouest quarter of the city, within tulip-sniffing distance of gloriously green Vondelpark, and a leisurely 15-minute stroll from the Canal District.
The hotel is a 30-minute taxi ride from Amsterdam Schiphol International Airport. Flights arrive here direct from cities throughout Europe; from the US, you’ll need to stop over in Iceland’s Keflavik Airport or Istanbul. The Smith24 Team can arrange flights on request, and a one-way airport transfer booked through the hotel is €37 (€45 if you fancy your name on a sign).
Centraal Station is a 20-minute drive from Pillows; the hotel can arrange transfers for €25 each way. Trains arrive here from major destinations in France, Germany and Belgium, and throughout the Netherlands.
With narrow mediaeval streets – and waterways – to navigate, plus the disapproving scowls you’ll get from eco-conscious cyclists, hiring a car in Amsterdam is more hassle than it’s worth. If you do arrive by car, public parking is a five-minute walk from the hotel (€30 a day).
Make like the locals and hop on yer bike… The network of cycle lanes and biker-aware motorists ensure no bent spokes or scraped knees.
Worth getting out of bed for
From your regal front door, Vondelpark is less than a 10-minute walk away. Swing by deli Renzo’s first to assemble a picnic of spicy, duck breast-stuffed rolls and manchego-and-rocket baguettes. In summer, the park hosts open-air concerts and plays, and if you ask the concierge to help you hire a bike, its cycle lanes are some of the prettiest. Amsterdam’s buzzy Canal District is a 15- to 20-minute walk away. Its narrow, gabled buildings house restaurants, bars and cafés, catering for more niche tastes than Amsterdam’s most infamous district… Catch a film at Tuschinski cinema a confection with both Art Deco and Art Nouveau touches, or wander around the area’s cool concept stores and Scandi design shops (Geitenwollenwinkel, Hope or Samsøe & Samsøe). Here, behind a bookshelf on the top floor of a nondescript building on Prinsengracht, history’s darkest hour is given a human face at the Anne Frank House. A tour of the Frank family’s attic hiding place is sombre – yet phenomenally important – but it’s buoyed a little by Anne’s hope-filled words and enduring spirit.
Amsterdam’s Unesco-protected canals have given it a fairy-tale look since the 17th century. Take a boat tour to wend your way through the city, or amorous types can stroll by them after dark when they’re romantically lit. The gentrified Jordaan district is worth a wander, too – galleries such as KochxBos and Tertius keep it edgy and its boozers retain their vintage charm; pause for a pint in higgledy-piggledy, delft-tiled Café Papeneiland.
Amsterdam slakes thirst and provides sustenance, whatever you crave. Sushi enthusiasts should grab some chopsticks at Izakaya or Kagetsu; ‘my body is a temple’ types can dine guilt-free at Lavinia Good Food or raw, vegan joint Alchemist Garden; the less-virtuous can build a towering snack at Burgerlijk or munch their way through the Old McDonald song at French diner Guts & Glory.
Pancakes aren’t relegated to the dessert section of the menu in Amsterdam. Have your expectations flipped at The Pancake Bakery in Jordaan, where these stovetop treats are loaded with Thai red curry, Nutella and cream, and every sweet-savoury combo in between. If you’ve overindulged on batter-based treats, take lunch at SLA, where every possible topping is added to a bowl of green leaves instead.
With Holland’s centuries-old reputation for sippable suds, Amsterdam’s craft-beer game is strong at Proeflokaal Arendsnest, whose copper taps keep more than 50 Dutch beers flowing, or microbrewery Brouwerij 't IJ, who hold an annual beer festival come May. Alternatively, the cocktail is king at award-winning bars such as Door 74, whose bartender is impressively intuitive, or The Butcher in the hip De Pijp district, where a now less-than-secret drinking den is hidden behind a freezer door at the back of a decent burger joint.