Travel // Two days in Amsterdam & Soho House Amsterdam

October 19, 2018

We took a trip to Amsterdam a couple of weeks back and L O V E D it. Have you been before? I can't believe how close it is, in fact it's closer to London than Paris, and just forty minutes after take off, we had arrived in the Netherlands. Truth be told, I'd never really paid much attention to Amsterdam. Friends & family have been, and come back raving about it but sometimes for the wrong reasons - namely those coffee shops. There's definitely a bit of a seedy vibe {which I'd always pictured anyway} through their extreme liberalisation with aspects like the red light district. So I didn't ever think to plan a visit there. That was until Soho House opened up there this summer, and I thought 'maybe we should look into Amsterdam'. And that, we did. And it's now up there as one of our very favourite cities. So much so that we actually booked flights to return there in April before we'd even left! It was just beautiful, full of canals, admirable architecture and bikes beyond bikes. Such a cool city, that almost had a West Village feel that reminded us of NYC {always a good thing!} and small enough that you can comfortably visit for just two nights which made it the perfect short break. There's a list of all of the recommend places at the bottom if you haven't got time to read through our travelogue.

It was an early start last Sunday morning, a 7am flight but it meant we were at our hotel by about 10.30am to make the most of an almost full day ahead. We just had two nights so maxed out on the days with early/evening flights. The flights were a big part of making us book this trip too actually, being such a short flight and the fact that they cost less than £90 return for us both! Good old Easyjet.

We definitely lucked out with the weather. October was a really beautiful time to visit with the leaves and light just perfect but the crisp, blue sky days really topped it off.

From Amsterdam Schipol airport {probably one of the biggest & coolest hubs in Europe?}, we took the train direct to Amsterdam Centraal. Having an airport and train station combined seems like such a sensible idea {although I definitely had to rid crazy, morbid thoughts from that Homeland episode out of my head!} . You can buy travel passes for the duration of your visit, but we had worked out in advance that we'd be able to walk to all of the places we wanted to see so it worked out cheapest for us to buy just single tickets. From Amsterdam Centraal we walked just ten minutes to Soho House. I think it's this ease of all of the connections that made us want to return. And look how beautiful the train station is!

On our walk to the hotel, I spotted these hydrangeas and dahlias and knew I was in the right city. Holland is known for it's flower growing. And I'd really like to take a trip to the huge greenhouses actually and flower auctions that happen just outside the city. On our next trip we hope to visit the tulip farms! You all know how flower obsessed I am.

We're Soho House members and booked this trip as part of their introductory offer earlier in the summer. Meaning stupidly cheap rates and a brand new, shiny hotel. It was heaven. Their interiors, so so spot on as always. 

This bedroom made us want to redecorate our house immediately. 

The building was really interesting, unlike the other pretty townhouses you see everywhere on the canals, Soho House have taken over this imposing, 1930s Bungehuis building which takes up a whole block! Inside, there's definitely an emphasis on the original features and an art deco vibe. 

That heavenly bed. We slept so well. Even the tiniest rooms have super-king beds in.

One of the things we always love about staying at one of their properties is the lack of toiletries that you need to pack, especially great when flying short-haul without a checked bag. You're met with Cowshed toiletries, everything from cleansers to mouthwash to toothbrushes to moisturisers to the whole collection of the Cowshed bath & shower range. Heaven!

The rooftop area was our favourite part. Looking out over the canals and a perfect sunset view, beautiful planting and comfy areas to lounge around. We took full advantage of the sunny, blue skied days during our trip, and whilst it wasn't warm enough to swim, just sitting with your face in the sun is good enough.

Such a cool view. The hotel is set in the best part of Amsterdam, the 9 canal region. We found it the perfect location for walking around the prettiest streets and some of the best restaurants just a block away.

Swooning over this Cecconi's set up on the ground floor.

We were lucky to be able to check in early, our room being ready from 10am when we arrived. So after a quick explore of the hotel, we couldn't wait to get out and see the city.

I think, just five minutes in, we were fully head over heels in love with this city. The canals were just so incredibly beautiful with the architecture and bikes alongside them. 

I, of course, took a million photos before we'd even walked that far.

The Jordaan and Nine Regions are home to some of the prettiest canals. Especially around Anne Frank's house {which we shamefully didn't visit, I think you have to buy tickets in advance and then still face lengthy queues. I know so many people recommended it to us - my pilates teacher/friend Nikki especially! and I felt bad that we didn't get to visit but truthfully, we were more than happy to just wander}

Those houses mixed with the trees, and the water reflections. The architecture was fascinating as a lot of the buildings, very visibly, slope forward to allow greater space on the upper floors. A lot of them are so crooked and you can't believe your eyes when looking at a door/window frame that's on such a slant. We were told to look out for the pulleys at the top of a lot of buildings, that's how they hoist a lot of furniture up to the top floors!

This time of year was particularly pretty. On our first day, we set no agenda other than to wander and take everything in. We stuck around the Jordaan/Nine streets to start with before finding lunch at the Butcher burger restaurant that had been recommended.

You quickly realise that you need to have your wits about you for crossing the roads, especially at the many junctions as you walk along the canals and bridges. There are cyclists everywhere! 

Amsterdam is such a cool, foodie city. The burgers at The Butcher {which has a few locations across the city} were juicy & delicious. I'd skip the sweet potato fries next time though that were too seasoned and crispy.

I had a list of some places I wanted to stop in that afternoon on our wanderings. This was Pluk, an Instagrammer's dream cafe and homewear store. 

Tried to take a few self-timer photos. They didn't turn out particularly well!

We tried!

I felt like this part of town, well most of Amsterdam, had this kind of West Village NYC feel?! Which to us, is just the best thing ever. Really relaxed, cute shops/cafes, the brownstone esque buildings.

Next on our list, which somehow I don't seem to have the photo of now?!, is Winkel 43 cafe for the best apple pie EVER. We shared one and sat on a bench in the sunshine, surrounded by autumn leaves and locals going about their Sunday in the little park. Such a nice memory. You have to visit Winkel!

We spotted some really cool houseboats on some of the canals. We were curious as to how much mooring must be, as some have official front doors/post boxes! 

Citroen love.

We headed to Vondel Park. I just love having time to walk, and explore a new place. Especially one as pretty as this.

We found some pumpkins in a Wholefoods esque store near the park, and leaves!

We joked that if the Jordaan/Nine region had a West Village feel then the area near the park {called Amsterdam Oud-West} reminded us of Brooklyn. Forever comparing places, it drives my husband crazy. Although he did agree with me on this. 

On a still, Sunday afternoon, it had such a nice feel. 

You'd need bikes to explore the whole of Vondelpark, it's big. But we were pleased to have seen a small section, and with our feet starting to ache, headed back towards the hotel.

One of my favourite photos ^

We ate dinner at Soho House both nights. We love the food, and it's half price on Mondays which makes it all the better.

Watching the sunset over the city.

Pretty skies.

Dinner {and a little health after our burgers!}

We took a walk afterwards to find some dessert, and the city felt so different at night. Never unsafe though. 

I had the best night's sleep in a long time and we fuelled up on breakfast before another day on our feet.

Pretty dreamy breakfast spread at Soho House, heart eyes!

I've been craving these chia pots ever since, I don't know what flavour they added but they tasted so good.

Plant/brass shelf goals. 

We were sad with the way our flights worked out to miss the famous, huge market on a Saturday which takes place at Noordermarkt {side note, the Dutch language was so different to any other places, some of the words just seem like they have the vowels taken out and look a little funny when written down}. It looked incredible from the photos. Instead, there's a smaller version with more of a flea market on a Monday so we took a walk over to this to see if it was any good before heading to the train station. 

I just wanted a million excuses to walk through this area again. You know when you just crave an area from the day before? I'd happily walk around these canals, with that sunlight, every day if I could.

My favourite kind of weather, chilly enough for a coat/scarf but not cold enough to wear boots yet.

The market wasn't really worth the look around but this antiques/interior store we found around Noordenmarkt was! I wanted to buy everything.

I have this thing with vine covered houses at this time of year...

I know what you're thinking. How many photos of these canals is this girl going to post?! I know, I know.... but that sunlight.

I loved how compact Amsterdam was, and the train station was so easy to get to. We took a day out to Leiden which a couple of people had recommended as a smaller, prettier Amsterdam. It's a historic university city and we enjoyed getting the train out through the countryside {which has inspired us to come back in April to see the tulip fields!}.

The Netherlands' are so flat and as such, have miles of fields perfect for growing. You pass lots of flower farms, and the odd windmill on the way out of the city. The trains were so easy to work out, and lots of them are double decker which is always cool.

How Dutch is this scene with the windmill and water?!

Leiden, indeed was beautiful. 

With it's bridges, canals and historic buildings. 

I loved that day so much. The sun was shining, we had all of these new pretty places to explore and take photos of, Ben by my side. More of those days please. 


Spot the Fortnum's hamper on the back of the copper bike!

There's a botanical garden which is well worth a visit, along with looking around the university buildings.

It was bigger than we'd imagined, and we then stumbled across Rembrandt's area & gardens - he was born in Leiden, and then a nice shopping precinct. 

We stopped at Bagels & Beans for a light lunch, still full from that feast of a breakfast! But Yogurt Barn next door had been recommended and looked really good too.

Before visiting Leiden, we couldn't decide between Leiden v Haarlem for a daytrip out of Amsterdam. Luckily, our train ticket let us stop at both so we could, although fairly fleetingly, have a wander around both cities and feel a bit better for spending 40 euros on trains that day!

The shopping in Amsterdam/Leiden and Haarlem was insanely good. My husband and I almost never shop together these days, as the shops in England always feel a bit of a chore somehow? Yet out there, we really enjoyed that afternoon looking around new stores with so many cool, beautiful homewear/gift stores with things so different to back home. I think we get so bored of the same things back here and often globally whereas Amsterdam seemed to have some unique versions of Antrhopologie etc. We particularly loved Hema and stocked up on some gifts for Christmas, America Tody, Sissy Boy {like a Dutch Anthropologie, seriously wanted everything} and even Tiger had some cool stuff and is the kind of place we never have time to just browse at home.

I think Haarlem pipped Leiden shopping wise but Leiden was better for walking around.

Oh yes, this store, Yaya is a must visit too. We bought a beautiful coral print for our bathroom.

Sissy Boy <3 funny name, the best shop.

And then back to Amsterdam! I'd definitely recommend taking the train out. We only had a couple of days in Amsterdam but felt like we still had plenty of time for everything.

I took this photo so I can recreate this crudities and dip as prettily back at home! {here's hoping anyway}.

For dessert that evening we visited Van Wonderen Stroop Waffles, just two canals down from Soho House. We'd walked past them a couple of times, and saw the lady making them fresh and couldn't resist trying them for ourselves. Stroop waffles have been on our radar since they were made on Bake Off a couple of seasons back, and they're so famous across Amsterdam. Translated, it means syrup waffle, they're often served with coffee and you can put them over a hot drink to melt the syrup inside. But I just love saying that word stroopwaffle. The store was like a beautiful old fashioned candy shop with a staircase and all tastefully decorated in teal & gold.

There are all of these flavour combos to choose from to take away in a box, or they'll make you a fresh one with your choice of two toppings. Ben & I shared one and went for white chocolate & sea salt caramel. For 3 euros, it's pretty good value for them making a hot, fresh waffle, filling the middle with hot caramel and then dipping in melted chocolate and topping, presenting it to you in a very posh box. 


Another must visit if you're in Amsterdam. 

On our last day, we ate breakfast at the Cold Pressed Juicery just around the corner from the hotel. 

Hot overnight oats, so delicious. I loved all of the food we had in Amsterdam, they seem to go mad for apples which are my favourite especially at this time of year. 

Then we went to pick up bikes to hire for the day. We rented them from Yellow Bike Hire and I think it was about 12 euros for the day? The cheapest bike hire we've ever had when on holiday. 

Not the most appropriate cycle friendly outfit though... 

The bike hire place didn't open until 9.30am so we walked to the floating market first of all. I'd heard how the floating flower market, full of all things bulbs & faux tulips, was a bit of a tourist trap and not very authentic. But I wanted to walk around there briefly nonetheless.

It was pretty touristy, and we didn't buy anything, but I found some Dutch tulips! The season is just beginning, albeit v early still. 

I loved this ceiling full of dried flowers.

Amsterdam is such a safe city for cycling through with practically everyone on bikes there. You should see the size of the bike parking at the station for example, it's multi tiered and full to bursting. We were cycling to the Amstel river, a popular route out of the city to Ooudekerk.

You get to the start of the Amstel river, and then cycle all the way down with the signs pointing you in the direction of Ooudekerk. At one point, we were with this pack of commuters cycling and feeling like true Amsterdam-mers. 

After a while, you'll get out of the city and into the open countryside. It was such a beautiful ride and about 45 minutes each way I think? 

Some of the houses, and farms, along the way were gorgeous. I imagine it would be so lovely to live there, knowing you've got the city just a short drive/cycle ride away.

Oouderk is an old town with a couple of nice looking cafes and shops. It's not really a destination but just a nice place to cycle to and from.

Such a beautiful morning.

Some of it felt like we were riding through American style ranch land. {see, that comparison thing again!}

We made it back to the city and cycled over to Food-hallen, a food hall near Vondelpark full of Amsterdam's best food outlets.

Dahlia love.

Spot the houseboat with the living roof!

I suddenly realised that I had a stack of work/emails that I should deal with so, feeling content that we'd seen enough of the city for now, we spent the afternoon until our flight back at Soho House where the wifi is faster than my office back home. A quick train ride to Schipol later, a Leon dinner at the airport and we were on our way home. 

Until next time, Amsterdam! {I say that often but this time we really are going back! If you have any tulip field tips then I'd love to hear them}.

A list of places to see/eat/do if you're thinking of visiting;

 // At Soho House Amsterdam {if you're a member, or drop them an email request if you're not as they often have rooms for non members too}
// The Hoxton or Pulitzer Amsterdam also looked really cool, and in the same area - the quieter, prettier canal side of Amsterdam. 

// Wander the canals and soak it all up. There are hundreds of them. The prettiest being around the residential Jordaan area and the Nine Streets. Brouwersgracht was voted most beautiful canal.
// Visit the Tulip Museum
// Book tickets for Anne Frank's house way in advance, if that's your kind of thing
// Walk or cycle around Vondelpark
// Take the train out to Leiden or Haarlem if you want to see a little more of the Netherlands. Amsterdam is amazingly compact so you can see a lot of it in a short space of time.
// Take a look at the Floating Bloemenmarkt for flowers {but don't necessarily buy bulbs here, it's a bit touristy}
// If you're there on a Saturday, the Noordenmarkt famous farmer's market is not to be missed. 
// Walk down the Red Light District, it's fascinating and is important that we understand the uneasy ethics behind it.
// Rent bikes and cycle along the Amstel river
// Shop! 
// Take a canal boat tour? Blue Boat Company & Lovers Canal Cruises were recommended to us

// Pluk for an Instagrammable feast
// Likewise for the Avocado Show cafe
// Foodhallen has everything under one roof
// Have stroopwaffles at Von Wonderen
// Eat Apple Pie for Winkel 43 {and be prepared to wait!}
// If you're really into queuing, the cookies at Van Stapele are world famous. But the queue was over 40 minutes long when we walked past!
// SLA is a great salad spot
// The Cold Pressed Juicery for light, healthy breakfasts
// On the other hand, The Butcher Burger chain is your place for seriously indulgent burgers
// Burgermeester came highly recommended too
// Mook Pancakes
// La Perla Pizza
// Vinnie's Deli
// Bagels & Beans

Would you add anywhere to this list?

R <3 xx

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  1. I love the look of your hotel! I've never been to Amsterdam before, but friends of mine have moved out there and recently had their first baby so I'll be going pretty soon I reckon! x


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