The Skylounge is a cool bar-restaurant on the top floor of the Mint Hotel. The terrace gives an amazing view of Amsterdam whilst enjoying a cocktail. Free entrance, cocktails were about £12 each.
So you've walked (or stumbled) along the oh-so-touristy Leidseplein and its collection of pubs, clubs and cafes, all about as subtle as a pie in the face. Or maybe you're a return visitor to Amsterdam and you've grown a little wiser. Either way, you are looking for something better, cooler, and devoid of Eurotrash. I'd suggest you turn the corner and head to Bo Cinq.
A bar/lounge/restaurant on Prinsengracht, one of the main canals that make up the city center, Bo Cinq (I have no idea what that means - will have to check with them on my next visit) is a great spot for a drink or a bite to eat. Lined with red bricks on both sides of the long, low-ceilinged interior, this place just makes you 50% cooler and relaxed as soon as you walk in the door. The low-slung couches and chairs invite you to lean in or get close to people. If that's not your thing, the other room has a long bar made for standing and mingling.
The ambiance is great - toeing the line but staying well on the good side of pretentiousness, with good tunes and good-looking people hovering near the 30-year-old mark. The vibe is good for groups and singles, though you won't feel like you're in a meat market. Subtlety is the key to the place, in the food and the mood. Later in the evening, it fills up and the energy follows suit.
They have other things going on each week, including a canal boat tour that leaves from just outside its doors - check out the website: bo5.nl/index.php
It's not cheap, mind you, with pricey cocktails appetizers that are a little too precious for my taste - they quality is great, but one might prefer some heartier fare when having a few drinks. But overall it's well worth a visit.
(Tip: if you want to use your phone here or you're waiting for an SMS that hasn't come, head outside for a moment. Inside, you're surrounded by too much brick and only the heartiest of mobiles will have a signal).
Prinsengracht 494, 1017 KH Amsterdam
+31 20 622 0682
* Jeff is our Been there local for Amsterdam. You can read his profile here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/articles/amsterdam-local-jeff-funnekotter.jsp and follow his tips here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/travellers/jefffunnekotter
Google map: bit.ly/pO3GJS
A langorous lesson in the intricacies of beer making first, becoming a faster paced ride through the history of Heineken advertising, with horses, a soaking, football fun and wonderfully enthusiastic staff to banter with. The best bit is the beer, a simple conclusion in the darkened bar to wind down later at journey's end. A rollicking few hours in Amsterdam!
Officially dubbed a "Cocktail and Genever experience". I recommend it because it is a great addition to an Amsterdam visit as it gives an interesting look in to the world of Genever and modern cocktail shaking.
Genever is one of Hollands most traditional products and Bols is the oldest. The experience includes: History, tasting experiment, video of yourself flaring and a cocktail of choice.
Monday through Sunday 12pm – 6pm (closed Tuesdays).
The entrance fee is € 11,50 per person. Including a cocktail in the Mirror bar
House of Bols
Paulus Potterstraat 14
1071 CZ Amsterdam
Tel: (+0031) 020-5708575
Magazijn is an unpretentious club without a door policy in the heart of Amsterdam. The drinks are affordable despite the stylish atmosphere and the retro interior and squishy leather sofas make for a great night out in the city. Local DJs spin a mixture of cool, chilled out tunes.
Right opposite the excellent Café Gollem (a lovely, cosy little bar where you can sample up to 200 Belgian beers) is one of the best beer shops in Holland. Selling about 500 beers from all over the world and specialising in beers from small independent brewers, it's an absolute treasure trove for the beer lover. You can buy Westvleteren there (which is reputedly the best beer in the world and extremely hard to come by), as well as some truly stunning Scandinavian and American beers. Try the Norwegian Porters and Imperial Stouts. Highly recommended.
And once you've bought some for later, why not pop into Café Gollem to try a couple on tap and maybe a Kaasplank (literally a plank with cheese & bread on it). Very satisfying. There's also a second branch of Café Gollem right by the Albert Cuyp Market in the Pijp district.
Both The Cracked Kettle and Café Gollem are on Raamsteeg, a small alley between Spuistraat and the Singel canal. The other Gollem is on Daniel Stalpertstraat, round the corner from the Albert Cuyp Market and the Heineken brewery
Great campsite on the edge of the city, 15 mins to Dam Square on a tram. Cheap tent rates or hire a little cabin, central heating and bedding included in the cost of these. Good breakfast can be bought from the bar in the morning, and food all day at not extortionate prices. Good clean showers, if a little cramped when you are taking one. Bike hire on site as well, and saves you having to find parking in the city centre at very expensive rates, you just leave your car at the campsite!
If dreadlocks, piercing and tribal tattoos are your style, there’s Soundgarden. It boasts a surprisingly civilized terrace overlooking the daily ebb and flow of boats and barges, but the inside is almost painstakingly run-down and graffitied, with a buckled pool table and a dartboard pocked with scars. Not as intimidating as it sounds, but hardly appropriate for the blue-rinse brigade. Grungy DJs and live music three times a week.
Marnixstraat 164-166, out west near Rozentheater
+31 (0)20 620 28 53
Harry's Bar is a cosy cocktail bar spread across three floors of a creaky old Dutch house. The barman assured us is in no way affiliated with the famous bar in Venice of the same name (their near-identical logos are "completely coincidental"). Nice atmosphere, huge list of drinks and great views of the street.
Gollem is an excellent little place to spend the night, trying every single one of their various beers. Just before where the Singel meets Spui, you'll find this most cute little place in a side street.
The Supper Club is the coolest place on earth! It has a hip restaurant and lounge with a design bar beneath that’s the sexiest haunt in town right now. The dining area walls are white and you sit on beds - a scenario suggestive of sexual intent if ever there was one.
The food is rich and Mediterranean, and drinks are pricey, but the artsy, cool crowd are surprisingly unpretentious. The cosy bar beneath is done in similarly lush style with mirrors, pillars and couches completing the sultry effect.
Live DJs keep playing until late and the measures in your cosmopolitan are maximalist not minimalist. An absolute must for all visitors to Amsterdam.
Something like the Dutch answer to Wetherspoons, this Eetcafe on the Spui enjoys a fair variety of Belgian beers and bar snacks. In the summer, sit out on the covered terrace and observe the daily battle between the trams and the cyclists - like watching a pack of sharks taking on a school of darting fish.
(0031) 20 6225110
People tend to covet two images of Amsterdam: one is of the sleepy city of culture and canals; the other is of one of Europe's hottest party venues. Rarely do you find a place that encompasses both together, but De Zotte is it.
Tucked away in a side street, there are hundreds of Belgian beers on offer to satisfy the connoisseur, yet the hip young crowd and funky sounds keep away the crusties and coach tours.
If you have to drink mass-produced Heineken, don't worry, there's hundreds of other cafes to choose from.
Vyne is a fantastic Wine Bar recently opened on the Prinsengracht. We were there in their first week and they had great "wine flights" and food to match.
Very cool (but not "too cool") and the staff were friendly.
1016 hm Amsterdam
020 344 64 08
Irish Pub on Rokin popular with Expats and boorish tourists on lager and Guinness fuelled tours through the town and the Red Light District. Food is average and overpriced. The room with a fire is quite nice in the winter. There are much better places in Amsterdam, if you want to go to an Irish bar go to Tig Barra on Overtoom.
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