Occupying a picturesque area bordered by the stately Vondelpark to the south, the Singelgracht canal to its east and the De Clercqstraat shopping street to the north, the Oud-West is the result of rapid urban expansion in the last quarter of the 19th century. A period of decay earned it the nickname ‘Wild West’ in the 1980s, but the neighbourhood is now highly desirable and has a dazzling array of dining options and upscale boutiques to prove it.
The heart of the Museum Quarter is Museumplein, the city’s largest square, bordered roughly by the Concertgebouw, the Rijksmuseum, the contemporary Stedelijk and the Van Gogh Museum. All have all had major refurbs and the square’s appeal is stronger than ever. Museumplein itself boasts plenty of grass for lounging, regular alfresco exhibitions and giant letters spelling out ‘iamsterdam’ that are Instagram catnip.
Co-founded by the Oud-West’s own fashion force Abderrahmane Trabsini, streetwear brand Daily Paper’s fusion of Dutch simplicity and African flair has found favour with Puma. It recently launched its second collection for the sportswear superbrand. It also collaborates with the Dutch pancake shop around the corner from its flagship store, which has a seasonal Daily Paper pancake on the menu.
This multi-storey car park was famously used as a location for one of photographer Spencer Tunick’s mass nude installations. Recently it saw the arrival of Waterkant, a bar overlooking the wide Singelgracht canal. A magnet for revellers at the merest glimpse of sunshine, it serves spicy Surinamese food and at dusk the scene can’t fail to captivate, even if your coat stays on.
This monumental hangar for electric-tram maintenance was the jewel in the crown of Amsterdam’s early 20th-century expansion. After falling to squatters in the 1980s it’s back on track, thanks to the gourmet FoodHallen. This covered food court rivals those of London and Madrid, with stalls serving everything from dim sum to doughnuts. The spring rolls of Viêt View come highly recommended.
Owners Patrick Park and Joan Caraballe have brought the music, magazines and flavoursome street food of Seoul’s buzzy Hong-Dae district to Amsterdam. Few of the fancy culinary newcomers in the Oud-West foodie district beat this tiny independent Korean café, with its supremely sunny disposition. Order a spicy prawn ﬂatbread and a batch of dumplings and shimmy on over to the sharing table.
The latest addition to the ever-growing George family of brasseries and cafés, Georgette takes its visual cues from its designer surroundings on the PC Hooftstraat. Think Flos lighting, gorgeous green marble counters and Missoni-esque seating. The menu looks to France for inspiration. With oysters, steak tartare and the signature tuna pizza on offer, this is the perfect chic pit-stop between bouts of retail therapy.
The Rijksmuseum was originally designed by PJH Cuypers and opened in 1885 as the nation’s ‘treasure house’. Half a decade after its epic renovation by Spanish architects Cruz and Ortiz, Amsterdam’s Golden Age art trove continues to dazzle. Rembrandt’s The Night Watch remains the big draw, but there’s much else besides, from model battleships to YSL’s Mondrian-inspired dress. Book tickets online to avoid queuing.
The green lungs of the city – Amsterdam’s most impressive park was designed in the 19th century in the English garden style. There are all manner of ponds and lakes, children’s play areas and cafés, including the relaxed Blauwe Theehuis. The park fills up at the merest glimpse of sunshine, and there’s a programme of free open-air performances during summer months.
I’ve lived in other parts of Amsterdam, and I think that the beauty of the Oud-West is that it just won't be pigeonholed.
Image credits: © alamy; © alamy; © Daily Paper; © waterkant; © foodhallen; © Seoul Food; © georgette; © Rijksmuseum; © Vondelpark