Amazing Amsterdam

The old city still pulls new tricks

When on a city break, who better ask for tips than the locals? Sharon van Lokhorst lives and works in Amsterdam and shares her favourite hangouts.

With a view of Amsterdam

‘The best view of the city can be enjoyed from Skylounge, a rooftop bar right next to Centraal Station. Here you feel on top of the world, with Amsterdam lying at your feet in its full glory. The prices are also sky-high, but it’s a great place to take your children for a soda to cap a day of shopping.’

Adam Tower - Pillows Anna van den Vondel

Old love

‘I recently rediscovered this after years of neglect, and I’m so glad I did because restaurant De Belhamel is still fantastic. A gorgeous art deco setting with a phenomenal view of the Brouwersgracht and Herengracht. Bang in the middle of the city, it’s surprisingly quiet. During the summer, you can eat outdoors on the terrace overlooking the canal (order the cheesecake!) and the bar in the basement is a must. It’s as if time here has stood still.’

Jazz in Amsterdam

‘A new jewel in the city is Satchmo – a modern restaurant in an ancient building dating back to 1647 on the refurbished Rokin. Every floor of Satchmo has been decorated with an impeccable eye. Find the cocktail bar on the top floor, then a private dining space, a restaurant and a covered outdoor terrace. And the murmuring from the speakers? Yes, it’s jazz, because Satchmo was Louis Armstrong’s nickname.’

Monkey see, monkey draw

‘Artis zoo has a special place in my heart. Even now that my son is a bit older, I still like to go there and stroll past the monkeys and, weather permitting, sit on the grass with a sketch pad and draw the animals. But not when it’s hot, then the zoo starts to smell!’

Curiosities galore

‘Another restaurant-cum-courtyard garden with real wow-factor is Lion Noir. Its classical city garden is right in the heart of the busy Reguliersdwarsstraat and has about twenty stylishly-set tables that are hard to leave. I just love the décor here too. The cool, eclectic mix that owner Caspar Reinders has managed to achieve never fails to fascinate.’

“Wine is delicious and fun, so let’s not be too serious about it”

Berlin in Noord

‘I love Amsterdam-Noord. It’s a complete medley of styles, and absolutely where the action is. Around the Gedempt Hamerkanaal there’s a wonderful creative community – it reminds me of Berlin. My favourite place is the Skatecafé, which has an actual half-pipe inside. In summer time, cafégoers squeeze together alfresco on long picnic tables and there’s a guest chef every Thursday. Chefs like Yvette van Boven have cooked there – and you’re guaranteed good food.

Wine bar

‘Naturally, I have a thing for wine bars. One of my favourites is Paskamer. Located in the middle of De Pijp, this gem offers an abundance of excellent wines by the glass and a menu full of exquisite tapas-style dishes. Make sure you try the beetroot with burrata or thinly sliced octopus. They also have a fabulous outdoor seating area.

Secret garden

‘I have a weak spot for courtyard gardens and Amsterdam has an plethora of them. I’m particularly crazy about the garden at restaurant Bridges, located within The Grand in De Wallen district. I like to have a posh coffee there in an oasis of calm. They also serve lunch and dinner.

Garden - Pillows Anna van den Vondel

Mini museum

‘I don’t go to museums enough – I don’t have the patience for queueing – but I do make an exception regularly visiting the mini museum, Lyppens. It’s a teeny-weeny shop packed with vintage jewellery and antique silver. My ritual when visiting is as follows; ring the bell, squeeze my way in and then control myself. Because, oh, I would just love to have it all!’

Dry design

‘Once, over lunch, I discovered Hotel Droog [‘dry’] in the Staalstraat. It’s a shop-slash-hotel-slash-café-slashrestaurant with superbly-decorated spaces. The shop houses original designer gifts, mostly created by Dutch designers. Be warned – you can easily spend a couple of hours here.’

“I have a weak spot for courtyard gardens and Amsterdam has an plethora of them”

Planning on discovering Amsterdam? Don’t forget to have a look at our special summer offer at Pillows Anna van den Vondel Amsterdam. Book 3 nights and the third night is free of charge.