Amsterdam : An Art Lover's Guide

22nd Jan 2014
Photo of Amsterdam : An Art Lover's Guide 1/6 by Anvi
Hotel Pulitzer, Hotel Amsterdam
Photo of Amsterdam : An Art Lover's Guide 2/6 by Anvi
Bulldog Coffee Shop, Amsterdam
Photo of Amsterdam : An Art Lover's Guide 3/6 by Anvi
Amsterdam Red Light District
Photo of Amsterdam : An Art Lover's Guide 4/6 by Anvi
Atlas in Burgerzaal
Photo of Amsterdam : An Art Lover's Guide 5/6 by Anvi
Street Art News Case Amsterdam, Netherlands
Photo of Amsterdam : An Art Lover's Guide 6/6 by Anvi
Thai Weed

Amsterdam’s greatest museums have reopened, and the city’s hot young design talent is injecting this Old Master with more intrigue than ever.

Art and design drive the pulse of Amsterdam. And it’s been like that for 500 years. A Golden Age visitor marveled that even blacksmiths and cobblers had original paintings tacked up on their workshop walls. Today, it’s Dutch architects, interiors artists and fashion labels (Rem Koolhaas, Droog, Viktor & Rolf) whose names are on international lips.

Amsterdam – quirky and innovative but with a strong sense of its past bundles it all in together. One moment you’re contemplating a poised Vermeer, the next a lamp made from a shirt and a coat hanger, or a chandelier of shattered shards of glass. Beneath those dainty gables, behind the historical facades that fill the city center, you’ll just as easily find a sleek, minimalist lounge as a salon that seems to have been beamed in from the 18th century.

Along the way come hip and traditional cafes, a cuisine that has rebelled against its dull heritage with adventure and flair, and hotels that indulge, but have a sense of fun. Amsterdam’s particular delight is that all this is manageable – if it’s not next door, then it’s a short walk or tram hop away. From the grand canals of the center, to the galleries of the gentrified Jordan in the west, from the Museum Quarter in the south to newly boho De Pijp which edges it, Amsterdam is custom- built for a few days’ break.

This month, after more than a decade’s closure, the Rijkshuseum, with one of the world’s greatest start collections, at last reopens its doors. Rembrandt, Frans Hals, Jan Steen and a host of other glorious Old Masters are in place, alongside a treasure trove of silverware, delft and princely furniture, and exquisitely detailed doll’s houses made as showpieces for Golden Age grandees.
Photo of Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, Museumstraat, Amsterdam Oud-Zuid, Amsterdam, The Netherlands by Anvi
Across the way, the Stedelijk Museum , also now up and running after a 10 years hiatus, brings Matisse, Chagall and Bruce Nauman into the fray, as well as video art, performances, an exceptional collection of De Stijl, and designs including Ettore Sottsass teapots and the famous Gerrit Rietveld chair.
Photo of Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, Museumplein, Museumkwartier, Amsterdam, The Netherlands by Anvi
Not only as frivolous as it sounds, the Museum of Bags and Purses has everything from medieval pouches to the latest Lulu Guinness design, as well as a café in a sumptuous baroque drawing room.
Photo of Museum of Bags and Purses, Herengracht, Centrum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands by Anvi
And EYE, the new film museum, is worth a visit not only for the aerodynamic zigzag of its architecture, but also for the private viewing pods, displays of hand - tinted silent movies, and great cinema programming.
Photo of EYE, IJpromenade, Buiksloterham, Amsterdam, The Netherlands by Anvi
Moooi is the place to go for spectacular lamps, bizarrely shaped vases and more by designer Marcel Wanders, who is making a mark with his exuberant, often jokey objects and interiors.
Photo of Moooi, Westerstraat, Amsterdam, The Netherlands by Anvi
Droog has a shop stocked with its own design ware, as well as clothing and beauty sections, and a sparkling white café (order the sockeye – salmon salad; fennel, celery and lemon juice) overlooking a quiet canal.
Photo of Droogbak, Centrum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands by Anvi
Van Ravenstein is a one – stop shop for fashion by Dutch and Flemish designers, and fresh talent gets a look in at Young Designers United. While you’re shopping, keep an eye out for sculpted shoes from Jan Jansen and daringly coloured bags and briefcases by Hester van Eeghen.
Photo of Young Designers United, Keizersgracht, Amsterdam, The Netherlands by Anvi
Across the road from the Stedelijk, Italian interior designer Piero Lisoni brings muted tones and austere lines to a 19th - century bank building at the conservationism. Some original features remain (fin-de-siecle wall tiles and stained glass), and there’s ingenious use of space, such as split – level suites in more cavernous rooms.
Photo of Conservatorium Hotel, Van Baerlestraat, Amsterdam Oud-Zuid, Amsterdam, The Netherlands by Anvi
Homemade is a big food trend in Amsterdam. Try the forest fruit bread puddings, dangerously good chocolate cake and pillowy scones at De Laatste Kruimel and the chunky soups at Letting are great for a quick lunch.
Photo of De Laatste Kruimel, Langebrugsteeg, De Wallen, Amsterdam, The Netherlands by Anvi
Screaming Beans is open all day as a café and wine bar, with a black marble counter, low lighting and tinted mirrors. From a busy kitchen behind a see through, wine cabinet wall comes culinary perfection: prawn with ginger, red pepper, orange zest and radish carrots with marinade onion and sumac.
Photo of Screaming Beans Hartenstraat, Hartenstraat, Centrum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands by Anvi
For a more robust touch, and generous portions, head to Rijsel which serves dishes such as cod with mussel vinaigrette and steak with shallot sauce in a farm kitchen interior.
Photo of Rijsel, Marcusstraat, Weesperzijde, Amsterdam, The Netherlands by Anvi
Koevoet combines Italian family cooking with the wood paneling, knick knacks and cosiness of a traditional Jordaan café. The menu is molecular: duck tongue calzone, oysters with chamomile, sea urchin nage.
Photo of Koevoetstraat, Bergen op Zoom, The Netherlands by Anvi
The quirky and the classic, rough edges and easy charm, high art and playful design: Amsterdam packages it all in an alluring, eye catching and accessible way rather like one of those grand doll’s houses at the Rijksmuseum. A former curator at the V and A and the Photographers’ Gallery in London, Addie Vassie came to Amsterdam in 2001 and runs Gallery Vassie in the canal district. She lets us in on the Dutch city’s photography highlights.
Photo of Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, Museumstraat, Amsterdam Oud-Zuid, Amsterdam, The Netherlands by Anvi
The Frozen Fountain creates an alchemical fizz of hot new names reacting with established Dutch design, ranging from furniture to accessories – look out for Piet Hein Eek salvaged – wood tables and Claudy Jongstra felt carpets.
Photo of The Frozen Fountain, Prinsengracht, Amsterdam, The Netherlands by Anvi
The vast atrium lobby/lounge is a prime spot to take a break from the museum, trail. Marcel Wanders is being the quirky interiors at the new Andaz Amsterdam Prinsengracht. The rooms have all the gear for a cool city break, with walk in wardrobes, great sound equipment, espresso machines and video art on the TV.
Photo of Andaz Amsterdam Prinsengracht, Prinsengracht, Centrum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands by Anvi
The restaurant (luscious bouillabaisse, veal with truffles and chestnuts) is superb and well – priced. Hotel-school training ship The College Hotel is a stylish, affordable option, just a hop from the museums.
Photo of The College Hotel, Roelof Hartstraat, Amsterdam, The Netherlands by Anvi
The more traditional Seven Bridges has rooms brimming with antiques, and brings bright fabrics and modern frescoes to a 17th century canal house – and has a thumping food breakfast in the azulejo tiled kitchen.
Photo of Seven Bridges Hotel, Reguliersgracht, Amsterdam, The Netherlands by Anvi