Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

New Dutch Designs; You've Probably Been There on a Drunken Weekend but Amsterdam Today Is More about Designer Chic Than Pot Cafes and Red-Light Jollies

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

New Dutch Designs; You've Probably Been There on a Drunken Weekend but Amsterdam Today Is More about Designer Chic Than Pot Cafes and Red-Light Jollies

Article excerpt

Byline: JEROEN BERGMANS

CHANCES are you won't remember much of your first visit to Amsterdam.

You were probably in your teens or early twenties, bedded down in some slightly damp dormitory, stumbled out of a coffee shop in a daze and gawped at a few scantily-clad girls in the red-light district.

With Dutch design splashed all over the pages of every glossy interiors magazine for the past year and the local tourist board keen to deter marauding stag and hen parties, the city now offers a much more sophisticated experience - and one that you'll definitely remember.

If your first trip involved painting the town red with a bunch of friends from school or university, you can indulge in a bit of nostalgia by checking into the brand new College Hotel (Roelof Hartstraat 1, 00 31 20 5711 511, www.thecollegehotel.com). A former educational establishment, as the name suggests, this stunning turn-ofthe-century building now houses 40 glamourous bedrooms in a classic but contemporary style with a restaurant serving traditional fare at lunchtime and a more modern take on Dutch cuisine for dinner.

Although The College is near to the cultural playground of Museumplein, where you'll find the Van Gogh Museum and the Rijksmuseum (now being refurbished, but The Masterpieces collection is still on show), you may prefer a canal-side location, in which case check into the Dylan Hotel, formerly known as Blakes Amsterdam (Keizersgracht 384, 00 31 20 530 2010, www.

dylanamsterdam.com). By far the city's chicest boutique hotel, you can choose between the lavish, traditional rooms in the main building or the slick, Zen white ones in the new wing.

There are also plans to turn two of the lobby areas into a lounge bar next month, which will compliment the hugely popular restaurant that serves East-meets-West fusion cuisine.

But with rates between E255 * d E1,400 per night, the Dylan may be way out of your budget, in which case Arena (s'Gravesandestraat 51, 00 31 20 850 2400, a www.hotelarena.nl, rooms from E125) is an appropriately grownup, but very affordable, crash-pad.

Standard rooms are minimalist with masses of space and, for e250, you can check into one of the vast duplex suites full of the latest furniture created by the country's top designers. The hotel's bar is also one of the city's most popular hangouts.

If you're planning to stay for a week or two and don't mind being slightly out of town, rent one of the seven individually decorated Lute Suites (Amsteldijk Zuid 54-58, 00 31 20 472 2462, www.lutesuites.com) furnished by the now world-famous Marcel Wanders.

The restaurant and bar scene in Amsterdam has also embraced national design mania. If you visit the temporary residence of the city's modern art museum, the Stedelijk (www.stedelijk.nl), also under refurbishment, head upstairs for a drink or dinner at Club 11 (Oosterdokskade 3-5, 00 31 20 625 5999), which has some of the best views of the city. …

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