Make the most of your business trip downtime by taking to water or two wheels – and consulting our Amsterdam city guide
Where to stay
Located at Dam Square, the NH Collection Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky gives guests the opportunity to roll out of bed into the very centre of the city. Situated across from the Royal Palace, the hotel has been tastefully modernised while retaining the historic nature of the building, a meeting point for Amsterdam’s well-to-do for 150 years. The showpiece of the 451-room hotel is its winter garden, a lavish expanse which has kept faith with the original greenhouse which stood on its location – although it is now the place to eat breakfast. The venue also boasts over 2,000sqm of meeting halls, enabling it to cater to all requirements in-house.
Where to eat
For lunch and dinner, Krasnapolsky has a restaurant under the guidance of three Michelin star chef, Jacob Jan Boerma. The simple but delicious meals can be taken, or chased, in their excellent cocktail bar and garden. Elsewhere, try Restaurant Vermeer – while Director was in Amsterdam, extensive renovations were being made to the 17th-century houses and 15th-century chapel that make up the restaurant and attached Barbizon Hotel. We were, however, fortunate to catch Vermeer head chef and Michelin star holder Christopher Naylor at his pop-up restaurant Roomservice at Olof’s. The concept here was for meat and fish to be served as sides, a ‘flexitarian’ approach that places vegetables and herbs front and centre of the meal and provides a welcome change from flesh-centric dining. We also ate at Jansz which, judging by our fellow diners, is a firm favourite among locals.
What to see
Amsterdam is a place where culture and adventure are best found on the theatre of the streets. Essential sights include the Rijksmuseum, Royal Palace, Van Gogh Museum and the Anne Frank House – but best of all is stretching your legs and getting hopelessly lost. The city is built around its semi-circular canals and once you grasp that system it is hard to go far astray. Unlike many cities, which hide their true residents outside of the main areas of interest, in Amsterdam you can walk along a packed avenue with shops and famous sights, then turn and find yourself on a picturesque canal bridge surrounded by houses and the bustle of normal life. Boat trips are a must – especially in the spring and summer and many come with a well-stocked bar to lubricate your voyage – as is a bike ride through the intensely hip Jordaan district and Vondel Park.
‘Gezelligheid’ is the Dutch answer to hygge; a quality translated variously as ‘cosy’ or ‘convivial’ which permeates the national psyche, evident in the famed cafés and canalside pubs. But, as Ilse van den Meijdenberg, director of translation company English Services, warns: “Don’t assume because Dutch people are friendly and easygoing that it will be the same in business. Dutch people can be very direct and blunt – you’ve got to be able to cope with that.” NBCC chairman Anton Valk adds: “In the UK, if you [the boss] go left, everyone follows. But in the Netherlands, somebody will ask you why you’re going in that direction. There’s a much more challenging attitude from staff.”
For the flight
Ian McEwan’s novel Amsterdam (the 1998 Booker Prize Winner) is a compact classic which sees its dénouement play out in the titular city. Anne Frank’s timeless The Diary of a Young Girl features her harrowing story of hiding from the Nazis in Amsterdam during the Second World War. Gerard Reve is considered to be Holland’s Albert Camus and his 1947 masterpiece The Evenings was only recently translated into English for the first time. And the short hop across the North Sea should provide ample time to fast-forward to the seminal Amsterdam scenes of the 1971 Bond film Diamonds Are Forever.
Amsterdam city guide – view the gallery (click to enlarge)
Amsterdam city guide info
BA flies to Amsterdam from most major UK airports, with flights starting from £38 one-way.