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Some Like It Quaint: Amsterdam

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14th Oct 2008


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Amsterdam may be most famous for its playfully debauched image, but these days the city is playing an increasingly important role in the world of international business. The city's central proximity to many points in Europe and a steadfast commitment to building service and knowledge-oriented industries is paying off, resulting in one of Europe's most vibrant locations.


If you're coming to Amsterdam from around Europe, chances are the efficient Dutch train network will get you in and out efficiently by dropping you off at Amsterdam Centraal Station, in the centre of the city.  Those travelling to Amsterdam by airplane will arrive at Schiphol airport. Taxi fares are high considering the distance, so hop on the train for just €5.50. It’ll take around 15-20 minutes before you are dropped off in the heart of the city. When you arrive at Amsterdam Centraal, you can walk or hop on the tram to reach your hotel (most hotels in the centre will be walking distance).

Amsterdam is one of Europe's older cities and was principally constructed during the age of canals (predating rail and automobile). Concentric rings of canals radiate out from the rough area of the train station, and feature lovely views walking boulevards.

Where to Stay

The Dylan is one of Europe's most stylish 5-star hotels. It features beautifully appointed rooms in a modern and whimsical style; each room is distinctly unique and upon booking you can choose a specific room style.

If you want to try something different, try the Lloyd. The concept behind this hotel is to mix the high end with the low end, to create a space that is “economically diverse”. The hotel which is 5 minutes away from Amsterdam Centraal station features five, three- and two-star rooms in the same space. We recommend staying in a 5-star rooms but enjoying the company of a mix of people from all walks of life, by socialising in the general common areas. The Lloyd was formerly a detention centre, and it shows, but the overall affect is unique, the value of which can't be understated.

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What to Eat

On the food front, a number of great restaurants have taken hold in the city. Two of the more interesting choices are Stout! and Envy. Stout! features highly constructed, flavourful dishes in a casual setting, with lots of seafood and ethnic style salads on the menu.

Envy is based on the seven deadly sins and is the most successful of a series of restaurants in Amsterdam based on the theme. Long corridors and attractive design cater to a hip, young crowd, so hanging out here is akin to being in a bar, but with better food and service than is found in most places. Again, the food is constructed in the mood of 'modern', but the experience is worthwhile, especially if you are entertaining clients.

Supperclub remains an institution in the city - the original 'bed' restaurant, featuring large lounges and people socialising, many of them partaking of the herbal remedies for which Amsterdam is so famous. Supperclub offers a mix of performances, art and food, creating a full experience to the evening that even after many years is still going strong in the city. It's a must-see for any Amsterdam visitor, even though copies have sprung up as far away as Singapore and San Francisco.

If you're looking for something a bit more stylish, try Ron Gastrobar for gastronomical dining. This Michelin-starred restaurant serves a variety of fish and meat dishes, with specials including caviar and duck.

Things to do

Amsterdam remains famous for its relaxed approach to most forms of soft vice, whether it involves coffee shop culture or the city's famous red-light district. But the reality is that most Amsterdam people tend to avoid these clichés, as there are many other great tourist locations to visit. Many feature top DJs, e.g. Chemistry offers a spectacular setting for late night activities and quite elaborate parties and settings, especially on weekends. 

For a fun, upscale scene, you could check out Jimmy Woo and Mansion, but to get a real flavour for Amsterdam's underground scene, it would be Korsakoff. Korsakoff takes a page from Berlin nightlife, appealing to the city's alternative set. Get set for punk-rock and gothic, which battle it out for domination of the scene. It's an experience, so wear your eyes-wide-shut outfit if you decide to give it a try.


Despite the tourist impressions that tend to overshadow Amsterdam, the reality is that the city is a strong magnet for international business. Zuidas and other ring business centres house large numbers of international companies and their European headquarters, especially in advertising and marketing. This scene gives Amsterdam a permanently outward and international view, a stark contrast to the quaint streets and cosy canals that dominate the historic centre. Together they provide a nice mix between responsibility and hedonism, a balance that Amsterdam struggles to maintain in the right doses.

At the end however, quaint wins. Nothing beats a simple stroll through the canals and narrow streets at dusk, watching as the streetlights begin to illuminate cobbled streets and perfectly manicured row houses, all lit up with modern design. Sure, half the tourists are stoned and you're likely to be dodging locals on bicycles with bells, but it’s all just part of the charm.