Amsterdam may be infamous for its red light district and pot selling coffee shops but it also has a blossoming wellness scene. It’s the perfect destination for a super-stylish city break, where you can explore its healthy food hangouts by day and then drink the night away. DOSE writer Jess proves you can see and do it all in a weekend…
WHERE TO STAY
Just a ten minute tram ride from the city centre is Amsterdam QO, a seriously stylish hotel with impressive eco credentials. Much of the fresh produce comes from the hotel’s own greenhouse on the roof, the waste water is recycled internally and there is a thermal aquifer below the building that heats the water. Plus, the building itself is made from recycled renewable materials – almost a third of the concrete used in the construction came from Amsterdam’s iconic old Shell building, while the carpets are made from recycled fishing nets.
The rooms are as lush as the lobby, with floor to ceiling windows, the comfiest king size bed, plump pillows, a bath in the room and waterfall shower. Don’t worry about your clean sleeping routine – the room can be plunged into total darkness with shutters controlled by an iPad by the bed and enjoy a soothing cup of a camomile tea before you turn in. The toothbrushes are bamboo, while there’s a cute little plant in a PikaPlant terrarium jar.
WHERE TO WORKOUT
As with any city break you’re going to be on your feet all day exploring. I racked up on average nine miles a day wandering along canals and side streets, hunting out cool boutiques and great coffee shops (there is at least one per block, it felt like). But if you want to step up the mileage, another great way to see the city is by bike: Amsterdam is packed with cyclists. There are dedicated cycle lanes and parking for bikes is plentiful. For serious fitness buffs strap on your trainers and head to Vondelpark, which has New York’s Central Park vibes and even on a sunny but chilly day in February was packed with people enjoying the sunshine and fresh air. There is a yoga studio around every corner, too.
Healthy eating is big in Amsterdam and there are lots of cafes serving up lighter bites. The world’s first avocado restaurant, The Avocado Show, has opened up in the city, which is an Instagrammer’s dream. If you’re vegan you can head to Beter & Leuk in the East of Amsterdam, which serves up a selection of juices, salads and sandwiches. But our favourite brunch spot was Coffee & Coconuts in De Pijp: a restored theatre filled with freelancers sipping juices while working on laptops and lounging on beanbags. The food is organic, they serve up coconut milk from coconut husks and the pancakes were off the chain.
With its marble table tops, pink velvet curtains and dark wooden panelling, Jansz restaurant in Jordaan is the ultimate in luxury dining. It’s known as a local celebrity haunt too, including Brad Pitt and George Clooney who have stayed in the adjoining hotel and eaten in Jansz. Make like a celeb and start dinner with a glass of fizz while you gaze out onto the street, or just the other diners. The food is exceptional and beautifully presented with healthy options including hearty salads, fish courses and large sides of veg, or, if you’re feeling more indulgent, steak. If you have room for pudding, there are Dutch classics, ice-cream or a cheese course. Or a nightcap cocktail, of course.
The rooftop bar, Juniper & Kin, at the QO is a great start to a night on the tiles with cocktails made from botanicals grown in the greenhouse. Then it’s time to go central. Stepping into The Pulitzer Bar in Jordaan is like entering a stylish front room: it’s painted dark Farrow and Ball blue, with oil paintings on the walls, low lighting and velvet upholstery. It’s where all of Amsterdam’s beautiful people go after dark. Choose from the Hemmingway-inspired cocktail menu, including a re-worked version of a gimlet, and relax in style.
HOW TO GET THERE
It’s a short hop away, either by the new, direct Eurostar route from London St Pancras or by plane from airports all over the UK. The Eurostar takes you direct into the heart of the city, while the airport is a short and extremely comfortable train-ride away. Make sure you buy a travel pass as riding the city’s metro is a cheap and quick way to get around.
Main photo credit: @tatsolbe
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