Time for something completely different? From its no-nonsense bicycle etiquette to its anything-goes art, Amsterdam is a city that’s packed full of new experiences.
And so, to celebrate the arrival of Eurostar’s direct route from London to the Dutch capital, we asked three local changemakers to share their personal stories about how the city has taken them on a brand-new journey to who knows where.
Whether it’s through imagining new artworks, influencing its food startup culture or creating the next generation of fashion designers, these locals have the inside scoop on how Amsterdam is fast becoming the new hub for European creativity.
So, what exactly is it that makes Amsterdam such a great place to say yes and start something new? You can find out here...
Peter Ong of Baked in Amsterdam shares his favourite gezellig places.
The former corporate lawyer traded his desk job in Australia for an adventure in Amsterdam – via a stint as a pastry chef in Paris – where he founded Baked in Amsterdam.
“Simple and rustic is what I aim for,” he says. “There’s a word here in the Netherlands, gezellig, which loosely translates as cosy, but it’s more about ambience and a feeling of warmth. That’s what I hope people feel when eating my food.” Here, the baker and entrepreneur shares his favourite gezellig places in Amsterdam.
Kinkerstraat 112, 1053 ED
“I used to make my banana bread in the basement of this coffee bar when I started out, and it still serves slices of it now. It’s a tiny place with few seats, so it’s cosy and welcoming. Potted plants ramp up the homely vibe and, sometimes, you’ll see the owner’s dog Freddie hanging about. On sunny days, the benches outside are the perfect spot to people-watch over an excellent coffee and warm cookie.
Jacob van Lennepstraat 39hs, 1053 HB
“Walls covered in faded music posters and candles with wax dripping down them – the beauty of this old-school bar on the intersection of some gorgeous canals is that it feels like it’s been around forever. A traditional Dutch bruin café (brown café) akin to a local pub, it’s completely unpretentious with just a simple selection of a few traditional brands on tap. I don’t ever recall music being played, just the warm chatter of conversation.”
Nieuwe Herengracht 18, 1018 DP
“Dignita does an incredible brunch – the menu is a testament to Kiwi chef Marcie’s antipodean roots and includes an amazing smoked salmon royale. The motto here is ‘eat well do good,’ and reflects the restaurant’s connection with international NGO Not for Sale. Dignita runs a training programme which provides victims of human trafficking opportunities to develop new skills. It’s located inside the pretty gardens of the Hermitage Museum, but thanks to the floor-to-ceiling glass windows, you can still enjoy the scenery, even in the rain.”
“If the weather’s fine, the cool kids make for Waterkant (Marnixstraat 246, 1016 TL), a semi-hidden bar underneath a car park on one of the big canals. However, Vesper Bar (Vinkenstraat 57, 1013 JM) and Rosalia’s Menagerie (Kloveniersburgwal 20, 1012 CV) are truly gezellig. Vesper is tiny, with a rotating theme – focusing on foraged ingredients for example – while Rosalia’s has a vintage-chic vibe. Ask the friendly bartenders for a cocktail containing Patricia – a coffee liqueur I make from Dutch jenever and Lot Sixty One coffee.”
Tweede van der Helststraat 3, 1073 AE
“A great spot for a date or quiet drinks with friends, Glou Glou is a charming wine bar in the lively de Pijp area. Wines are reasonably priced and excellent; on warm summer days, I’ll always have a glass of rosé from Côtes de Provence. The atmosphere is romantic without being over the top. A bonus is that it’s just across the street from Amsterdam’s best ice-cream shop, Massimo – try a scoop of salted caramel.”
Image credits: © Lot Sixty One; © Cafe-L'Affiche; © Dignita-Hoftuin; © Vesper; © Glou Glou