Monday 26 August 2019

Amsterdam: Follow in the footsteps (or heels) of Clooney and Carey

Go Dutch in the Dylan

Amsterdam, a fantastic city break
Amsterdam, a fantastic city break
Dylan Hotel, Amsterdam
Amsterdam's canals - perfect for a wander
The Red-light district in Amsterdam, Netherlands
Mariah Carey
Dylan Hotel, Amsterdam

Mark Evans

Mariah Carey, George Clooney, Justin Timberlake, Brad Pitt and Paris Hilton. With a stellar guestlist like that, you know you're staying in a classy place.

And you don't have to be in the A-list universe to be treated like a star when you check in at the Dylan Amsterdam.

I can vouch for that: after more than a week of everything from tents to two-star hotels around Europe, with two teenagers in tow, I wanted a home from home and a bed that I didn't have to inflate with a foot pump.

The Dylan is up there with the most welcoming hotels I've ever stayed in.

It's five-star luxury without the five-star stuffiness.

It's boutique with the slickness of a grand hotel.

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dylan hotel amsterdam

Dylan Hotel, Amsterdam

Built just before American independence in the 1770s, the Dylan served the city for years under the Catholic Church as a refuge for the poor. Nowadays it's a refuge from reality, a calm oasis in the madness that is Amsterdam.

Close to all the action in the Dutch capital, it's still fare enough removed from the bustling streets to offer relaxation (thing Baggot Street in Dublin and you're about right). Rooms are massive, and each one a little different. In a country as teensy as the Netherlands, I expected a box. What I got was closer to a huge apartment. No wonder rock stars stay here - even the richest hip-hop artist could fit an entourage in here.

The Dylan houses one of the city's finest restaurant - the Michelin-starred Vinekeles - as well as the Occo brasserie, but we loved sitting out in the back courtyard, itself a draw for locals and tourists alike. All the big attractions are close by, and you can hire bikes in the front courtyard (one of the few in a city where space is coveted) and explore.

The Anne Frank House (annefrank.org) is less than 10 minutes' away on foot, and it's a must-see on any itinerary to revisit the city's darkest era, under Nazi occupation.

Even if culture isn't your thing, don't miss the Rijksmuem (rijksmuseum.nl). I visited it many years ago as a student, and was blown away by the range of works by Dutch masters on display - and still am. It's not cheap at €17.50, but under-18s go free, so it was a cheap afternoon out for the three of us.

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Amsterdam's canals - perfect for a wander

Kids will love Vondelpark - Amsterdam's most famous - in the Museumplein area.

It's a perfect picnic spot, and like most other places in the capital, ideal for cycling.

But Amsterdam isn't necessarily a city of must-see buildings or museums.

The city centre is gorgeous, and opening my window on a crisp Sunday morning, to the sound of countless church bells, I knew I wanted to go people watching.

Bars and coffee shops (the kind of ones where you can take all the family) are 10 a penny in these parts, with plenty of al fresco dining options. It's about 15 minutes' walk from the hotel to the heart of the city at Damrak (the main street leading from the beautiful Centraal Station) and Dam Square, with its fine Royal Palace.

For a different view, take to the canals - by pedal power. We booked a four-seater pedalo (www.canal.nl/en/canal-bike) and even a water-hater like myself enjoyed it. It's €8 for an hour per person, and you get a small guide book so, presumably but not always, you don't get lost.

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dylan hotel amsterdam

The Dylan, Amsterdam

Food with teens is never going to too upmarket, but there's a great pizza restaurant near to where we were staying. Da Portare Via (www.daportatevia.nl) has full pizzas from €6.50 for a regular or €2 more for a large margherita. Toppings are exotic - anyone for salmon - and it's a small venue, so takeout's your best option.

And if you must (and we did) want to visit an Irish bar, Mulligan's (www.mulligans.nl) is the real deal - with live music, sports and a handy canalside central location.

Forget about preconceptions - the family can have fun too in Amsterdam.

Factfile

Skimp on the flight price and check out the Dylan hotel's specials, including an overnight stay, with a selection of drinks and bites in the Dylan's bar Barbou on Sunday evening, plus buffet breakfast, from €325 per package, based on a double room. For more packages, prices and pictures, see dylanamsterdam.com.

Book the best value city breaks with Independent Travel here.

Read more:

Amsterdam: A city of fun, culture and much, much more 

Camping in Holland: The great European road trip

Park life: Six super theme parks for families in Europe

10 luxury hostels that will change your view of budget accommodation forever... 

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