The Dutch are as famous for their tolerance as they are for their clogs and windmills. Thus in Amsterdam sober and sinful attractions exist side by side. Amsterdam was built on the wealth of canny merchants, and the relative lack of blood in the city’s past speaks to the longstanding local preference for cozy, easygoing conviviality—a way of life that’s so ingrained that the Dutch even have a word for it: gezelligheid. That trademark warmth and niceness more or less seeps into your veins as you move through the city streets, some of the most bike-friendly on earth. Tulips bloom and houseboats bob on the tranquil canals. Aqueous Amsterdam is sometimes called the Venice of the North. Amsterdam has long held itself up. Visiting in 18th century, Voltaire observed: “Here, nobody stands in the street to watch a prince ride by.” The architecture—those narrow, leaning, gabled, houses that seem to be out of a storybook—lacks the monumental arrogance of other European capitals. It’s standard practice to keep the front curtains open. Fashion-wise, Amsterdam is certainly less exciting than nearby Antwerp. Dutchmen Viktor & Rolf have even claimed that the city’s lack of stylistic adventurousness is what they love about it. At the same time, there are smart little boutiques and antiques shops. There’s the plugged-in approach to contemporary art and design. There’s in-demand designer Marcel Wanders, who has his studio in the rehabilitated working-class neighborhood of Jordaan. It’s been more than three centuries since Amsterdam led the world in terms of wealth and global influence. But many of the city’s defining traits haven’t changed that much. It’s still foreigner-friendly, even if today’s immigrants are not Venetian glassblowers or French silk-weavers. The smell of nutmeg and cloves once wafted out from the United East-Indian Company’s headquarters; more recently, a visitor’s most pungent memory might be of the cannabis haze clouding scruffy coffee shops. As the city gets re-polished, the aromas are shifting yet again. There is a lot to commemorate in 2013, including the 400th anniversary of the city’s canals and Van Gogh’s 160th birthday. (The museum devoted to him here is world-class.) And this year marks the end of the ten-year renovation of the majestic Rijksmuseum, a closure that tested the patience and understanding of not only the locals. That’s right. In Amsterdam, the Old Masters are back.
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Café This Amsterdam institution has satisfied customers since 1993 with its superior menu — one that’s fetched several Cannabis Cup accolades — combined with helpful service and a cozy ambiance.
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Design These Dutch godfathers of pragmatic, funny design use their Amsterdam flagship to showcase their greates and latest inventions. Having achieved world renown for works like Tejo Remy’s loosely bundled set of found drawers or his chair made out of rags, Droog delivers dry commentary on the too-often all-surface/no-substance world of design by using discarded or unlikely materials to style familiar objects.
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Special HaarBarbaar is located on one of the main streets in Amsterdam, the Wolvenstraat. The shop is stunning and run by two barbers – and brothers -who carry the craft to its highest form. Cut-throat shaves, splendid old-fashioned haircuts - all performed in traditional barbershop chairs - prove HaarBarbaar the best Barbershop in the West. Don’t miss the hot towel shave+face massage accompanied by Jack Daniels on the rocks. Only walk-ins, first come first serve.
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Hotels Tucked behind a historical façade along the canals of the city’s charming center, the Dylan Amsterdam provides an exclusive gateway to discovering the treasures of Amsterdam. Comprised of various houses around a classical courtyard, the Dylan is recognized for its modern-meets-classic design and dedicated service. It’s main restaurant, Vinkeles, was awarded a Michelin star in November 2009 for its delicate French cuisine. Executive Chef Kuipers uses only the freshest ingredients for his seasonal menu.
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Restaurants Lion Noir opened its doors to the public in 2010. Located on the happening street the reguliers-dwarstraat 28, Lion Noir will offers lunch, cocktails, and fine cuisine. Lion Noir is a collaboration between tCasper Reinders , Mr Yen and Serge Rijn. Its interior – designed by architect Thijs Murre – offers a unique, warm and homelike atmosphere.
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Nightlife Here the cocktails range from exotic - spicy with ginger ale and peppers- to intriguing - made with grilled cheese, fat or peanut butter. Door 74 might be the best bar in Amsterdam, yet its address is secret, which is part of its lure. The inside is dimly lit and reminiscent of speakeasies. The crowd is sexy and the music is lounge-y.