Experience Luxury at the Dylan Hotel in Amsterdam

Netherlands » Amsterdam

By Sarah Johnson

Amsterdam is the kind of place where you feel like you can immediately embrace the lifestyle and do as the locals do.

Quick Hits Too busy to read it all? We have some highlights here

  • Eat...

    a truly unique dinner at De Kas

  • Lunch...

    at The Seafood Bar and get the dover sole

  • Breakfast...

    have an amazing spread at Gartine (try the homemade jams!)

  • Sleep...

    at the Dylan, an intimate five star hotel located on one of the most beautiful canals

  • Splurge...

    on dinner at Vinkles Restaurant and do the wine pairing (we said splurge!)

  • Visit...

    the city on a canal tour

  • See...

    the Van Gogh Museum & the Rijksmuseum

  • Shop...

    in the nine streets, the 'De Negen Straatjes'

  • Tip...

    walk everywhere, and do as the locals do and rent a bike

One of the most beautiful cities in Europe

Whether its strolling along the canals or jumping on a bike to get around, Amsterdam is one of the most relaxing cities in the world (this has nothing to do with the “coffeeshops”). The scene here is laid back and fun! Amsterdam is an incredibly beautiful city, full of history and culture, where we easily spent a week exploring all it had to offer.

Even in January when the temperature dips to a little colder than enjoyable, it was a fantastic place to walk, or do as the locals do and bike! It was so lovely to meander along the beautiful streets and pop into a brown cafe to warm up and have a beer. Everyone understands english, the people are so friendly and there are tons of great museums and sites. This was my first trip to Amsterdam, but it will not be my last. I can’t wait to return in the Spring or Summer to see all the Tulips and people out on the canals enjoying life!

Get Your Bearings

This is a city where you should try to get lost walking around the canals and the side streets. The center and canal belt, the Nine Streets, the Jordaan, museum and fashion district and the De Pijp are areas not to be missed. My advice, basically, walk till your feet hurt then stop for a beer and walk some more.

A Guide is Worth It

We hired a guide for one day which may have been our favorite part of the trip. We learned all about the history of the town, and ventured outside the city to the Waterland which is one of the most beautiful countrysides I have seen. We learned all about Anne Frank, the fact that Amsterdam is way under sea level and that Edam cheese is just as good as Gouda.

The Hotels

Boutique Luxury 

The hotels in Amsterdam are varied, luxurious and interesting. It definitely makes sense to stay at a place closer to the center of the city for a couple of nights like the Dylan or the Waldorf, but the Conservatorium is worth checking out also. Getting a room on the canal is a bit more expensive, but worth it for at least a night. The hotel restaurants are also great at the places below, so don't overlook them when you decide where to stay.

The Dylan

A true gem of a hotel that is sophisticated, intimate and ideal for the most discerning traveler. The Dylan is perfectly located in Keizersgracht, one of Amsterdam’s main canals in one of the most beautiful and chic parts of the city. This area of the city is full of cool boutiques, great bars and restaurants. I loved everything about this canal side boutique hotel. The hotel was once a popular theater in the 1600s and now is the perfect small five star hotel. The vibe here is luxurious, refined and location wise I don’t think you could ask for a better spot! The hotel has two restaurants (one Vinkles, an amazing michelin starred spot), a small gym, a great bar (a room off the bar with a fireplace) and a charming courtyard. I think this is the perfect hotel for a couple or anyone who wants a great experience and doesn’t mind spending a little more than they should… The Dylan is also a member of American Express Fine Hotel and Resort program.

Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam

The Waldorf Amsterdam is the newest luxury hotel to arrive in Amsterdam. Great location on the canal and they look to have an amazing spa and pool. This was a top contender for where to stay when we booked because the building is so beautiful, they also have a great location, along with more amenities including a spa, gym and pool. If we didn’t love the Dylan so much, we would have spent our last night here. This is definitely a place for people who want a luxurious experience, though not as small and intimate as the Dylan. Billed as Amsterdam's most luxurious hotel it is located in a row of 17th century rowhouses on the picturesque Herengracht canal. Rooms are elegant and many boast great views of the canal . With a good central location and larger feel, this is my second choice hotel for the the city.

Conservatorium hotel

The Conservatorium is a very cool hotel that I think we would have loved to stay at. The vibe is incredibly chic and Amsterdam’s famous museum district is just a block away where you can find the Rijksmuseum, and Van Gogh muesuem. For the shoppers and leisure lovers, there is high end luxury shopping around the corner (think Hermes, Fendi and other 5th avenue mainstays) along with spa options and a luxurious but laid back experience. If you have ever been to NYC, the lobby reminded me a bit of the Ace Hotel (6 years ago), but cooler. This is probably the place to see and been seen in Amsterdam, and it is definitely worth looking into.

InterContinental Amstel Amsterdam

The “Grand Dame” of the Amsterdam Hotel Scene. This five star, old world hotel is the place your parents would have been devotees to. This hotel is located on one of the larger and most famous canals and boast the top michelin starred restaurant in Amstedam. This hotel has been known to be the choice spot for royalty, celebs and politicians for years. The location for me made this a non-starter, I have heard it is a great place to grab drinks.

The Food

The Food Is Incredible

The food in Amsterdam is unique and awesome. It is a little less expensive than you would find in other countries in Europe, like France or Italy, but the quality is there. De Kas is like no other place we have been in the world, and Vinkeles is one of the best meals we have ever had. If you are impatient Americans like us, be prepared to be slightly annoyed that your wine glass is empty or you sit without food for 45 minutes. That being said, the people are so nice and the vibe is great.

Vinkeles Restaurant Amsterdam

This restaurant was the hands down best dining experience we had in Amsterdam. The fact that it is French Cuisine in the Netherlands is maybe a dig to the home country, but this place was really amazing. Located in the Dylan hotel, this michelin star gem of a restaurant will not disappoint. It is housed in an old bakery and served an incredible array of cuisine. From pigeon to oysters with “gin filled” pearls, to incredible cheese, this place was unbelievable. There are maybe 10 tables in the whole restaurant that add to the incredibly special feel.

Gartine

Gartine is maybe the best breakfast experience I have ever had! I can’t praise this place enough – the homemade jams were life changing good and the vibe here perfect. James had this concoction of fatty food with french toast, eggs, bacon, bread and more. I had (ok I am starting to feel embarrassed) eggs benedict which were insane. Make sure you get a res, we saw 10 groups come in, only to get rejected as we ate like kings.

Restaurant De Kas

The restaurant that is always recommended when mentioning Amsterdam. This cool restaurant and nursery located in a greenhouse serves dishes made from organic ingredients which are grown on-site. It truly is an incredibly unique an exciting dining experience. The service was maybe slightly less than, but that is a theme in Amsterdam, so no reason to write this place off. I would recommend ordering a bottle of wine and having it placed on your table(just saying). It is one of the most unique restaurants, I have ever been to and the food was phenomenal. The menu is pre-fixed and changes daily and they make vegetables taste like candy.

The Seafood Bar

We had an amazing lunch at the Seafood bar. This bright fun restaurant has a buzzing atmosphere and is apparently always packed and hip hopping. In my mind, the perfect place to have lunch and a glass of wine after visiting nearby museums. The oysters were unbelievable and the dover sole was incredible. James had the battered fish and we had the best time. If you love incredible seafood this is an absolute must – I can’t wait to return!

Bakers & Roasters

Breakfast Spot! We went for their Monday brunch and fell in love with this incredible de pjip restaurant. The food is stellar and the scene even cooler, did you see the living green wall! James and I both indulged in their BandR special which was amazing, but judging by all the food around us and the empty plates soon after, I really don’t think you can go wrong (unless you chose to not check out this awesome spot).

Envy

This trendy spot is serving up delicious food in a great part of town (close to where the Dylan hotel is). We indulged in the prefix which was super creative and delicious. The service at this spot was some of the best we received in the Netherlands, and we generally loved this place. Even though we did the chef’s prefix, when we told our waitress how much we loved oysters she made sure the chef showcased them for us. High quality food, set in a cool trendy setting.

Bluespoon Restaurant (Andaz Hotel)

What an awesome breakfast spot in a super funky and cool hotel. Best eggs benedict ever (seriously I a have a problem). We opted to do their amazing continental breakfast spread as an "appetizer" to our food, totally fatty but also totally amazing! The people here were so nice, ah take me back!

Restaurant Johannes B.V.

Another restaurant that was constantly recommended to me by everyone! Sadly, we didn’t go, but next time we are going to check it out. From all the recommendations, I suggest you do the same.

Restaurant Blauw

Every article I read said this was the best Indonesian place in town, which is saying something for a city that is known for amazing Indonesian the way London is known for Indian fare. This is a fun modern restaurant with a lively vibe and delicious food. The rice table is the must order and we loved every last bit of it! Totally worth the trek for a fun night out.

Rakang Thai Restaurant

Incredible thai spot that you wish was your local thai restaurant. This is definitely a local favorite and highly recommended for thai food lovers, We had an incredible meal and almost had to be rolled out of the restaurant we were so fat and happy.

Must See

Beer and Walking

Walk around and explore the canals on your bike, it is a fantastic and fun way to see the city. You have to visit the red light district just to see it, but spend most of your time checking out the Jordaan and the center canals. We loved the museum area and also the De Pjip part of town. Buy some chocolate from Urban Cacoa and bring it home with you. Also, make sure you buy some Gouda! We bought cheese that barely lasted a week at home... Also, if you have enough time, take a day trip out of the city to visit the beautiful (and very flat) countryside of the Netherlands. We went to the Waterlands and visited three unique and interesting villages.

Anne Frank House

The Anne Frank house is one of the most iconic tourist attractions in Amsterdam, and it is definitely a must visit. Make sure to get there early, and if you can buy your tickets in advance. Every time we walked by, this place was packed.

Reypenaer Cheese

We took a deliciously awesome cheese tasting class (with wine pairings obviously) which took about an hour. A fun way to learn about Gouda and the history of cheese in the Netherlands.

Rijksmuseum

Rijksmuseum is a must see for any art lover! This museum is dedicated to the arts and history of the Netherlands and is fantastic. We pre-bought tickets and I would highly recommend doing the same to avoid any lines. You can purchase the tickets and use them at any time during your visit. The Seafood Bar is a great place to grab lunch after you visit the museum.

Van Gogh Musuem

The Van Gogh Museum is incredible and a must for all visitors, which also makes it incredibly crowded. You really have to buy tickets in advance and I also recommend making your booking time as early as possible to get a head start on the crowds. I’m serious, every year, 1.6 million visitors come to the Van Gogh Museum, making it one of the 25 most popular museums in the world! The history of Van Gogh is fascinating and I loved our time here, just book early and at an early hour.

A Canal Tour

Canal Tour is absolutely the best way to see the city and learn some of it’s incredible history. There are many tour companies and ways to do a canal tour – private, on a brunch boat (G’s) or while having some drinks! Tons all around the city and are more of less the same pic the one nearest you.

Must Drink

Beer, Beer and More Beer

The bars in Amsterdam are one of the coolest parts of the city. It is a beer drinking town, so be prepared to enjoy some delicious suds. Our favorite beer was La Chouffe, but we also had some amazing (including dutch!) wines at dinner.

Conservatorium hotel

Tunes Bar at the Conservatorium hotel is a fantastic bar with beautiful cocktails drunk by beautiful people. They specialize in luxury gin and tonics and have a three page menu of them. I don’t even like gin and tonics but loved this place!

Papeneiland

We happily stumbled upon this historic and happening spot which turned out to be one of the oldest brown cafes in Amsterdam. We loved this place and apparently many others do as well, it is even a favorite of Bill Clinton when he is in town. He and many others come for their famous apple pie. A great place to have a coffee or even better a few beers in the afternoon.

't Smalle

This charming neighborhood bar is one you wished you had close by. I loved it in winter, but have heard it is also perfect in the summer with its prime canal side drinking set-up. We stopped in more than once to enjoy this very charming and cozy spot!

Hotel The Toren

Bar at the Toren has a very funky vibe but it was super cozy for a cocktail with their fire place! We enjoyed coming after diner for a glass of wine and a game of chess.

Must Shop

Great Shopping

Amsterdam has some incredible shopping and I fell in love with so many beautiful things over there. Because it is a walking town, you get to see a lot of shops as you walk around! There was a huge range of items and I got more than one present for myself.

Pauw

Pauw was a super fun and chic boutique we stumbled into. They had beautiful clothes that I loved!

Van Ravenstein Amsterdam B.V.

Another super fun shop in a great par to of town (right by the Dylan holtel!). They had some great clothes and it is definitely worth checking out.