If you haven’t lived until you died in New York, and you don’t get tired of life until you get tired of London, then you don’t know what freedom is until you have been to Amsterdam. Best known for its abundance of tulips, canal houses, and easy biking trails, Amsterdam is one of the greatest small cities in the world. A capital of tolerance that fully lives by the code of ‘live and let live’; where diversity is welcomed and reality is defined by a lively society in which men and women alike have space and legitimacy to express themselves; a place where everyone’s sexual orientation is respected.
Amsterdam can be considered the birthplace of LGBT rights. Homosexuality was decriminalized here in 1811, the first gay bar was opened in 1927. And last but not least, it was also the first city in the world to officiate the first legal gay and lesbian nuptials in 2001. No wonder that it is considered one of the top world destinations for gay and lesbian travel and also knows a thing or two about celebrating Gay Pride.
Michael van der Burg Photography
Every year during the first weekend of August the quaint Dutch capital hosts one of the globe’s biggest and most suggestive events, Pride Amsterdam. The event is a city-wide, fun-filled celebration in the spirit of freedom that attracts over 500.000 people and culminates in the Canal Parade a colorful show of canal floats and boats in rainbow colors carrying drag queens, muscled men in body paint sailing through the city’s waterways, as crowds cheer and dance on the banks. For the best viewing try the Prinsengracht or the Amstel, but you have to be early to get a spot.
Photo by Jeroen Ploeger
Photo by Jeroen Ploeger
Laid-back and unpretentious, Amsterdam has all the advantages of a big city - rich culture, vibrant nightlife, world-class gastronomy, good transport - but with a suburban feel.
Home to over 400 museums - from art, food, and hash to sex, diamonds, and everything in-between, in Amsterdam you will be spoiled for choice. But the city’s long-time blockbuster has been the Rijksmuseum. Filling four floors labeled from zero to three and 80 rooms the museum is dedicated to the art and history of Holland from the Middle Ages to the present and is home to some of the greatest and most famous works of Dutch art – from Vermeer’s tiny, highly focused study, The Milkmaid, to Rembrandt’s epic portrait, The Night Watch.
And, if all roads lead to Rome, all canals lead to Amsterdam. Just as tulips, windmills and wooden clogs, canals are a typical symbol of the Netherlands and a visit to this amazing city won’t be complete without a canal boat tour. Conceived as a huge town-planning project in the early seventeenth century, the waterway network in Amsterdam encompasses 165 canals and over 1200 bridges many of which date back to the Dutch Golden Age of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Amsterdam’s western arc of canals, curling around more historic landmarks than any other European city center, was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2010.
Though every canal is picturesque and unique in itself, there are a few you should not miss:
One view, fifteen bridges: the bridge on the corner of ‘Reguliersgracht’ and ‘Herengracht’ has a unique view over fifteen bridges. Make sure you stand on the side of the street with the odd numbers.
Magere Brug: the ‘Magere Brug’ (Skinny Bridge) across the Amstel river is maybe the most famous and beautiful, particularly at night, when is lit up by more than 1,800 lights and casts a fairytale reflection on the water.
The Golden Bend (Gouden Bocht): stretching from ‘Leidsestraat’ to ‘Vijzelstraat’, this part of the Herengracht is known for its grand manor houses that came into existence during the Dutch Golden Age in the 17th century.
SWEET SUITE LIFE IN AMSTERDAM
The best places to stay in Amsterdam reflect this town's cosmopolitan, laid back, and sometimes quirky nature. From beautifully restored canal houses to tiny bridge houses, cranes converted into luxury suites, tram carriages repurposed into hotel and houseboats, even the most seasoned travelers will agree that the accommodation options in Amsterdam are among the most exciting in Europe. Wondering where to stay?
A great location, stunning design, intuitive service, and that little thing called buzz-factor, this is the blend that makes CONSERVATORIUM Hotel a standout among the sophisticated, style-conscious travelers. Right in the middle of Amsterdam’s Golden Triangle of Art with the most representative museums at its doorstep and just behind Amsterdam’s best luxury shopping street PC Hooftstraat, this is the perfect retreat for your visit to Amsterdam.
"Gezellig", a word that encompasses the heart of Dutch culture. The term has NO accurate English translation for no one word can sum it up, because ‘gezellig ‘ can only be felt. That is exactly what permeates the luxury of The DYLAN, a five-star hidden gem in the heart of the “9-streets” area on the prestigious Keizersgracht” canal; that is where you will capture all the authentic essence of Amsterdam
Artwork forms a crucial component of the scheme in the guest rooms, with collages by Michiel Folkers, portraits by music photographer Daniel Cohen, and showcase work by Ren Philips in the Sir Suite.
The SIR brand promise? A one-of-a-kind hotel experience in some of the most interesting neighborhoods in the world. ADAM stands for Amsterdam Dance And Music.
Ferry crossing from central station, the SIR ADAM Hotel is part of the revamp of the A’dam Tower, - former Shell tower – which is also home to a mix of offices, cafés, restaurants, an observation deck, and a nauseating ‘Sensational Swing’ at the building’s edge. Filling the first eight floors of the 22-story tower with108 rooms and suites, SIR ADAM is known for its free-spirited and creative atmosphere and is an amazing choice for a stylish stay in Amsterdam's hip Noord.
Kimpton de Witt
Set within three original Dutch Golden Age-era buildings, KIMPTON De Witt hits the mark on many levels: location, rooms, gastronomy, and exquisite service. A Dutch classic with a modern twist, the brand’s first hotel in Europe stands out for its bold personality and for offering the perfect balance of modern luxury and historical elegance.
In line with the brand’s imaginative approach to design, the Kimpton De Witt features refined guest rooms including nine signature suites, a whimsical three-story suite aptly named Little House, which operates as a house within the hotel, a flower shop with fresh-cut blooms, and an open-air garden offering a tranquil escape from the vibrant streets of Amsterdam. Last but not least, local, experiential dining options are available at Wyers Bar & Restaurant and Miss Louisa Coffee & Beignets.
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