Debonair’s resident epicurean dines at the Trèsind Studio, where executive chef Himanshu Saini has come of age
Debonair looks at the best places to eat, stay and play in the Dutch capital
From the age-old tale of two fishermen settling on the shores of the Amstel river in the 13th century to a population of over a million this year, Amsterdam is known as much for its live-and-let-live attitude as for its rich history.
Known as a traders-city by origin, it’s no coincidence that the Dutch capital has become one of the most multicultural cities in the world.
The city is now a melting pot of cultures, and home to residents from 180 countries globally. Amsterdam is as rich in culture as it is in cultures; here’s Debonair’s guide to the Dutch Masters.
Where to Eat
Hidden behind the facade of a former diamond factory in the city centre, everything about the capitals’ first speak-easy eatery exudes mystery. You can’t even gain access without a personalised QR code, which you only received after your booking has been confirmed. And then you need to find the entry — behind a nondescript door! The restaurant is the brainchild of Peter Gast, who earned his first Michelin star for Schultenhues at the age of 25. Graphite is fine dining kept private; it serves only 20 seats a night, so book early.
Yes, that’s the full name. C here means Celsius, the defining characteristic of this restaurant that makes the most of how an ingredient’s taste and texture changes at different temperatures. The menu is organised around five different temperature categories, from -20° to 200° Celsius. The focus is on seasonal produce, treated in new and different ways. A large open kitchen forms the beating heart of this venue, offering a full view of the chefs at work. C also stands for cocktails, another area of expertise.
At the newly reopened Vermeer, named after the Dutch Master painter, British chef Chris Naylor pushes the boundaries without resorting to overworked or pretentious fare. With a garden in the centre of town in the bustling district opposite Central Station, he focuses on seasonal local ingredients. The restaurant holds a Michelin star, and Naylor was recently named vegetable chef of the year 2019.
Where to Stay
The typical Dutch skyline of waterways and arch bridges features right in front of the 25 rich Golden Age canal houses that make up the Pulitzer Amsterdam. Conceived to feel like an intimate pied-à-terre, each suite is testimony to a former resident and a statement to the house’s past. Yet with the highest standard of crisp linens, parquet floors and marble baths the Pulitzer dazzles in style and luxury. A maze of archways crisscross through the character builds and form the backbone of the properties, where secret gardens have been transformed into vibrant terraces. The surrounding Nine Streets neighbourhood is buzzing with boutiques, sidewalk cafés and restaurants. This is Dutch elegance at its finest.
Away from the inner circle of canals, this contemporary warehouse-cool hotel overlooks the waters north of the centre. The glass and concrete build sets off its sleek interior, where wooden furniture is paired with bright rugs and bold statement pieces from local artists. The property emphasises music, and each room is kitted out with a Crosley record player and vinyl selection. The public spaces include a bar known for its cocktails and a quirky burger joint, as well as arcade games and ping pong tables.
Amsterdam’s brightest jewels are its canals. With the opening of Sweets Hotel, the capital’s Unesco heritage site has become the ever-changing lobby of the individually designed suites: you can now stay in the rare allsorts of transformed little bridge houses plotted along the canals. This is about as unique an experience as you’ll get. Sure, there’s no butler service or housekeeping, but for experiential travelling it can’t be beat.
Where to Play
The Dutch cultural heart is built around the Gallery of Honour, where you can find world-famous masterpieces by Johannes Vermeer, Rembrandt van Rijn, Frans Hals and Jan Steen. It leads to the lavish space architect Pierre Cuypers created specifically for Rembrandt’s The Night Watch. In all, the museum places 800 years of Dutch art and history — from the Middle Ages to Mondrian — in an international global context, through 80 galleries and 8,000 objects.
House of Bols
If you’re a closet mixologist with an interest in cocktails, head over to the House of Bols Cocktail & Genever Experience. This multisensory interactive tour dedicated to the art of creating the perfect cocktail will get you acquainted with world’s oldest distilled spirits brand. More than four centuries of Dutch craftsmanship are presented through an exploration of a wide range of flavours and aromas you can feel, taste, smell and discover. The experience merges old and new, analogue and digital, history and future, and company and product. The Art of Mixing and Blending concept is a fitting highlight.
A privately owned — and curated — space dedicated to modern, inspiring and contemporary art, the venue sits on Museumplein across from the Rijksmuseum but a world apart. It is home to the street artists and surrealists of modern times, icons such as Banksy, Andy Warhol, Roy Lichenstein, Yayoi Kusama and Daniel Arsham. Expect to be immersed in art that is nowhere to be seen but here.
Debonair steps into the kitchen with the ‘Gypsy Chef’, the American restaurateur behind Michelin-star venues around the world and three in Dubai — Bleu Blanc, Basta! and Poppy
Gypsy Chef’s exclusive dining experience at the Grill Counter is a thing of simple culinary wonder. And you need to get a seat before he leaves town