Amsterdam in winter – Tips for a luxury city break.
Amsterdam in winter? While the Dutch capital is better known as a good-weather travel destination, in the summer the city can prove pretty crowded. In my experience, however, Amsterdam in winter was lively, but by no means overcrowded. It’s a young, dynamic and hip city. But don’t worry, you will also love the metropolis if you want to take a slow, comfortable visit.
Join me as we discover and enjoy art, culture, shopping and culinary highlights on my birthday trip through Amsterdam.
Amsterdam in winter – arrival.
From the Ruhr area, Amsterdam is a pleasant, short 2.5 hour ride on the autobahn A3. But the real challenge starts when you reach the city. If you’re afraid of paint scratches, you might opt to forgo driving and instead take a train or plane (from London, the flight is about 1,15 hour; from New York, about 8.5 hours).
The streets are narrow – very narrow. And they’re made even narrower by the constantly passing cyclists. If you do take a car, it’s crucial you pick a hotel with valet parking. You shouldn’t have to bother or stress to find a parking space!
My luxury hotel tip for Amsterdam: The Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam.
A classic among the Grand Hotels and recently voted one of the best 50 hotels worldwide, this 5-star hotel is centrally at the UNESCO heritage site Herengracht. It’s a great starting point to discover the city by foot.
I think perfect service is the most important aspect of an exclusive and unforgettable hotel experience. I still remember the exact moment we arrived: the valet service took over our car and we were escorted to the reception. We took seats in comfortable armchairs. A pleasant fragrance wafted in the air, and quiet piano music played in the background. We were given aromatized water-soaked towels and welcome tea. This is what I call deceleration and a feel-good atmosphere. We could also choose a fragrance to be discreetly sprayed each evening in our room. I’d never done this before, but it’s a great idea I’d love to see in other hotels.
A kind employee guided us to our room and told us about the hotel’s construction, with its six traditional canal houses from the 17th and 18th centuries. In total, the hotel offers 93 rooms and suites.
The Waldorf Astoria exudes a very special flair that only Grand Hotels have. At pre-Christmas time, the decorations were a dream, not too cluttered or cheesy.
We also chose this hotel because of the small but fine Guerlain Spa, which we planned to use if weather was bad. Luckily, the weather was cold but dry, so I only enjoyed the spa for about half an hour.
The hotel has kindly provided me with this beautiful picture of the spa area:
Our room was stylishly furnished. While fulfilling all the modern standards of comfort, it also had regional touches, like the traditional Dutch tulip vase. The room had a wonderful view directly over the Herengracht. How do you like the room?
Club sandwich & Champagne Goes Amsterdam.
After checking in, we visit the hotel’s lounge. I love this travel ritual of ours – we always start our stay with a glass of champagne and a club sandwich. It was a wonderful start to our weekend in Amsterdam, but of course, that’s not my only culinary tip.
My restaurant recommendations begin in the next paragraph, but suffice it to say, as we do in German, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Again, the Waldorf Astoria wowed me. I can’t remember the last time I sat at a breakfast table for so long. The atmosphere was quiet and pleasant, not nearly as hectic as in many other hotels. The little treats were arranged in an artistic manner, and I enjoyed looking around the buffet. Every diet fanatic or person who claims “I only eat fruit in the morning” is proven wrong here: at the end of every breakfast, a small portion of poffertjes is automatically served. I loved it!
I recommend finishing the day at the Waldorf Astoria with a cocktail in the Vault Bar. The ambiance of the former vaulted room is reminiscent of the time of gentlemen clubs. It goes well with a good whiskey. The hotel has also provided me with this beautiful picture:
Gourmet Tips for Amsterdam.
Amsterdam offers a variety of fine dining restaurants. The Waldorf Astoria itself has two gourmet temples: the Goldfinch Brasserie, where we enjoyed a great meal on our first evening in Amsterdam, and the two-star restaurant Librije’s Zusje. Chef Sidney Schutte recently received Gault & Millau’s 2017 Chef of the year award.
In addition to an unprecedented culinary experience, I had one birthday wish: to look over Amsterdam at night. In the end, we chose the 2-star restaurant Ciel Bleu located on the 23rd floor of the Okura Hotel.
It’s a fantastic eatery with an outstanding menu, service and ambience. I especially loved the staff’s informal and friendly nature. They talk to guests without being talkative, creating a pleasant, personal atmosphere. I really enjoy this kind of service.
Finally, there was a very special surprise: my husband had ordered a small chocolate cake for me in advance. Served in a ceremoniously opened wooden box, I have never received such a beautiful birthday cake. Pastries like this aren’t normally on the restaurant’s menu, but they fulfilled this special request anyway. This is what really makes high-class gastronomy. Thank you Ciel Bleu!
Amsterdam – art, culture and shopping.
When you’re visiting Amsterdam, there are a few must-sees – the Rijks Museum, the Anne Frank House, a canal cruise and so on. Even so, you may find you feel more like strolling through the small streets, lingering in art galleries and discovering tin shop curiosities.
I think you can indulge in these desires without feeling guilty! I also stand by my love for the world’s big old-established department stores, like the De Bijenkorf in Amsterdam. It reminds me of the Alsterhaus in Hamburg or Stockmanns in Helsinki. I can stroll for hours through handbags, clothes, household goods and delicacies.
For those who prefer a fixed program, I’ve linked to an overview articles with information on Amsterdam’s art, culture and highlights.
Holland.com, the official travel guide, offers detailed information. The visitor portal Amsterdam answers all questions about the sights of the city.
I would like to highlight one event in particular: the Amsterdam Light Festival. Light installations and works of art made with light illuminate the city and canals in December and January.
Of course, Amsterdam also offers Christmas markets and ice-skating rinks in December.
Amsterdam in Winter – the end of a luxury weekend.
The city is perfect for celebrating a birthday in small groups. Even in the cold, Amsterdam is worth a visit. The festively decorated streets and houses create (even in the dark) a dreamlike atmosphere completely different from the city’s summer flair. Amsterdam offers a variety of fine dining, exhibitions and events.
The Waldorf Astoria is a hotel for those who cherish grand hotels and classic charm.
Room prices start at about 600 euro and suites prices at about 1350 euro.
Everything is possible – nothing is necessary. Don’t be a slave to your guidebook 😉
By the way, we travelled from Amsterdam to Rotterdam, I’ll tell you about my stay there soon. And do you know about Amsterdam’s little sister, Utrecht? You also shouldn’t miss this beautiful city, here are my tips for Utrecht.
Check out more luxury hotel-tips.