Planning a trip with my friend, we want to go to Amsterdam, Paris, and Venice. The dates are set yet, but will be Sept. or Oct 2011.
See + Do
Hermitage Museum Amsterdam, Netherlands
Amsterdam 1018 DP, Netherlands
Tel: 31 20 530 87 55
The Hermitage museum in St. Petersburg has been loaning art and historical artifacts to Amsterdam exhibitions for years, although it wasn't until 2004 that a permanent space near the Amstel River was designated to house the treasures. The first phase, some 5,300 square feet of galleries in a 17th-century building redesigned by architect Hans van Heeswijk, has presented two shows from the mother ship each year. On June 20, 2009, doors will open upon a greatly expanded Hermitage Amsterdam, with an entertainment complex that includes a restaurant, terrace, concert hall, and landscaped courtyard garden. The opening show, At the Russian Court, will run until January 31, 2010, and will feature more than 1,800 works. Thereafter, the museum plans on two large-scale temporary exhibitions each year.
Open daily only during exhibitions. Call ahead or check website for details.
Negen Straatjes, Netherlands
In the heart of the Western Canal Belt, "the Nine Streets" are a tic-tac-toe board filled with small, specialized home, fashion, and art boutiques. At Laura Dols, vintage organza party dresses look ready to float out the door and table linens are hand-embroidered with garlands of candy-colored flowers (6-7 Wolvenstraat; 31-20-624-9066; www.lauradols.nl). Two doors down, the long-running H. J. van de Kerkhof, which opened for business here in 1938, is stocked with only the trimmings—silk ribbons, bows, and a taxonomy of tassels (9-11 Wolvenstraat; 31-20-623-4666). Continue down Wolvenstratt across the Keizersgracht canal to browse Mendo's oversized fashion, photography, and graphic-design books—themselves a study in flawless taste (11 Berenstraat; 31-20-612-1216; www.mendo.nl). A block to the north from Mendo's, de Weldaad is filled with the recovered detritus of old canal houses, such as end-irons, Delft tiles, and neoclassical busts (1 Reestraat; 31-20-627-0077; www.weldaad.com); if you're shopping for something richer, but lighter, head south a block to stock up on green-tea chocolates and Dutch butter cookies from Pompadour patisserie and tearoom (12 Huidenstraat; 31-20-623-9554).
Albert Cuypmarkt, Netherlands
People speak of this street market in superlatives: longest-running (since 1904), largest (several long blocks), most diverse (dozens of ethnicities), and that's just for starters. From 9:30 am to 5 pm Monday through Saturday, street stalls and shops sell fresh fruit and fresh fish, exotic herbs and exotic pets, umbrellas and underwear. Signs reading "Hollandse Nieuwe" announce that it's the season for herring, the quintessential Dutch street food (dangle it over your mouth and gradually lower it). Another reason to visit: The market is still frequented more by locals than tourists.
The best place for watching classic Jordaan bohemians, this canal-side market sits on a square at the foot of the Noorderkerk, one of Amsterdam's oldest, most austere churches, and does double-duty. On Saturdays, neo-hippie farmers and foragers sell organic produce and cut off wedges of prime artisanal Gouda from wheels bigger than tractor tires. On Mondays, the textile vendors take over, shaking out bolts of fabric (sold by the meter), and filmy lengths of jewel-toned saris alongside hawkers of antiques, clothing, and bric-a-brac.
Miauw Suites, Netherlands
Amsterdam 1016 CC, Netherlands
Tel: 31 20 717 3429
If historic canal-side hotels, such as the Ambassade, let you pretend to be a Golden Age burgher, Miauw Suites makes you feel like a contemporary Amsterdammer living in your own stylish apartment in the bohemian Nine Streets district. The hotel's co-owner, fashion designer Analik Brouwer, meets you in the ground-floor exhibition space and hands over your keys. While the four guest rooms vary in size (there are two suites and two bedrooms), they all have the same impeccable accents: pillowy white duvets, sandstone or limestone bathrooms with heated floors and cascade showerheads, a ready-to-use iMac on a little wooden desk, Diptyque candles, fresh flower bouquets, and a well-edited stack of DVDs (Brouwer's partner, Rene Eller, is a director). The rooms are all also surprisingly affordable: A 300-square-foot bedroom with private bath is $210; the top-floor White Suite ($350) comes with a fully equipped kitchen, separate bedroom, and long combination dining/living area punctuated by a gray Cubist couch and Persian rug. The long bank of windows overlooking the Keizersgracht is alone worth the tariff.
Banks Mansion, Netherlands
Amsterdam 1017 BV, Netherlands
Tel: 31 20 420 0055
The blah Canal Crowne Hotel was taken over by Carlton Hotel Collection, a NetherlandsUK boutique chain, and reopened in May 2004 as a far nicer prospect. Instead of relying on high design as so many other new places in the Dutch capital do, it's taking a shot at being the coziest, comfiest hotel in town. In fact, the design is fine too, taking its cue from the early-20th-century building itselfa former bank on the Vijzelstraat "Golden Bend" of the Herengracht Canaland riffing on H.P. Berlage's Amsterdam School and Frank Lloyd Wright. It all ends up looking homey in a vaguely Art Deco way, especially in the lounge, called "The Living," with its leather chairs and brass lamps, and in "The Kitchen," with its checkerboard tiled floor, pine dresser, and giant old-fashioned range. Breakfast (included) is cooked to order in "The Kitchen," and guests are encouraged to hang out there and in "The Living," where all drinks and snacks are free. Contents of your minibar and unlimited Internet and movie channels are gratis as well. Right there, they're onto a good thing, and the website has incredibly low last-minute deals. Who needs a spa anyway?