Amsterdam, you gorgeous enigma. Treasured through generations for your timeless beauty, somehow you’re also constantly changing and bettering yourself, and managing to stay consistently fresh and exciting. You are, quite simply, the urban version of Cher.
This year, as usual, the excitement’s high in the Dutch capital, with locals still giddy about the long-awaited North-South metro line that finally opened last summer, offering quick and easy access (for savvy tourists too) to both the trendy De Pijp neighborhood at the south end of the city center, and the up-and-coming northern neighborhoods across the
River IJ. Plans are already underway to extend the North-South line even farther to connect Schiphol, Amsterdam’s airport,
to the rest of the metro system, which will make getting to the city center quicker and easier than it already is.
2019 has also been the Year of Rembrandt in the Netherlands, marking the 350th anniversary of the death of the
Amsterdam-based leader of the Dutch Golden Age. Home to more Rembrandts than any other museum on the planet, Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum (Museumstraat 1. Tel: 020-674-7000. www.rijksmuseum.nl) has been honoring this milestone
with a series of Rembrandt-aganza exhibitions and events. Beginning in July, the work generally considered to be the
artist’s greatest masterpiece, The Night Watch, will be undergoing its first restoration in 40 years, for which the museum
has enclosed it within a state-of-the-art clear glass chamber so visitors can witness the actual restoration process.
Keeping with the restoration theme, across Museum Square at the Van Gogh Museum (Museumplein 6. Tel: 020-570-5200. www.vangoghmuseum.nl) you can now witness the results of the painstaking conservation treatment recently completed
on two lesser known but stunning Van Gogh paintings, stolen from the museum in 2002 and improbably recovered
(albeit in damaged condition) in Italy in 2006. The exhibition “Recovered Van Gogh Paintings Restored” is on view through September 15.
En route from the Rijksmuseum to Van Gogh, consider popping into Moco (Honthorststraat 20. Tel: 020-370-1997.
www.mocomuseum.com), a “boutique” museum that opened its doors in 2016, and specializes in modern and contemporary works held in private collections, from artists like Andy Warhol, Keith Haring and Roy Lichtenstein. One of the biggest draws to Moco these days is its ongoing unauthorized exhibition of the work of mercurial street artist Banksy.
Another of Amsterdam’s prize museums is marking a major milestone this year, as the Hermitage Amsterdam (Amstel 51. Tel: 020-530-8755. www.hermitage.nl) turns ten years old. To celebrate, its current exhibition “Treasury!” features a cross-section of masterpieces from the massive collection of the museum’s mothership, the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Russia. Some of art history’s biggest figures are represented, including Bernini, Da Vinci, Matisse, Velázquez and Rembrandt. Also featured in this broad and star-studded show, which runs through August 25, are classical works from Ancient Egypt, Greece
and Rome, as well as outstanding prehistoric pieces dating back 25,000 years, and spanning ancient civilizations from the Middle East to East Asia.
Though it’s already loaded with fantastic accommodations, Amsterdam’s hot hotel scene never seems to quite be able to keep up with the ever-growing and evermore-discerning tourist demand. One of the most exclusive new arrivals to the city is Soho House Amsterdam (Spuistraat 210. Tel: 20-888-0300. www.sohohouseamsterdam.com), part of the fast-expanding
Soho House properties, and clear evidence of Amsterdam’s importance on the global tastemaking stage (Netflix didn’t pick this as their European headquarters for nothing.) Set along the famed Singel canal in the historic city center, Soho House Amsterdam features 79 exquisitely but intimately styled rooms with massive brass-framed windows. On the ground floor are two Soho House institutions, Cowshed spa and Cecconi’s restaurant. On the fourth floor, there is a striking and truly state-of-the-art gym that features HIIT and yoga studios, and its rooftop pool offers awesome views. Set in the six-story 1930s Bungehuis, Soho House towers above the 17th century quaintness all around it.
While not brand new, the magnificent Kimpton De Witt (Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal 5. Tel: 020-620-0500. www.kimptondewitthotel.com) remains one of Amsterdam’s preeminent hotel options, especially for gay travelers, given Kimpton’s long track record of warmly welcoming LGBTQ guests. The De Witt became Kimpton’s first hotel in Europe when it opened in 2017, and just the second outside the United States. Its location within easy walking distance of Centraal Station is perfect. “Is this Amsterdam’s most convenient boutique hotel?” asked The Telegraph upon its opening. Its design is divine, with subtle splashes of Delft-porcelain-blue throughout the 274-room property. One of Amsterdam’s buzz-iest new bars also just opened onsite: Super Lyan, which moved here from London in April. Part of Ryan Chetiyawardana’s wildly successful Lyan bar family (including two recent World’s Best Bar wins), Super Lyan is a “playful sibling” of its British brethren, a neon-splashed all-day neighborhood cocktail bar and garden set in a cozy 17th century Dutch house, offering coffee, vegan donuts, shakes, and bites by day, and the brand’s incredible cocktail concoctions plus wine, local beers, and
Dutch bitterballen by night.
In the city’s hip Jordaan district, the new Hotel Mercier (Rozenstraat 12. Tel: 020-810-0940. www.hotelmercier.com) is set in Ons Huis, once the home to COC Amsterdam, the city’s largest group for LGBTQ advocacy (COC has been doing for a stunning workd for seven decades, in this city that’s a longtime trailblazer for gay rights). Blending its building’s historical Art Deco style with eclectic antiques and a bright modern flair, the “straight-friendly” Mercier offers 48 reasonably-priced rooms and great Jordaan-edge location. It’s part of the small but growing Vondel family of boutique properties in Amsterdam and Maastricht, which also includes the newly-opened wood-centric Hotel van de Vijsel (Overtoom 13. Tel: 020-810-0890. www.hotelvandevijsel.com), just a stone’s throw from Museum Square.