A Michelin-Starred Visit to Amsterdam
By Cara Jay Kingan
Amsterdam has stolen my heart – twice. The first time in 2014 to visit my college roommates made such an amazing impression that when given just 24-hours’ notice to visit the Dutch haven again on a whirlwind 72-hour Michelin-Star culinary trip, I didn’t have to think twice.
Here’s a Glimpse of Our Latest Adventure…
Arriving at Schipol, we soon realized our luggage wasn’t making its way around the belt (thanks Atlanta snow storm for that moment of panic!) Royal Dutch Airlines—KLM graciously told us to purchase whatever necessities we needed until our luggage was returned the next morning. We rallied to meet our driver for a lively city conversation en route to the hotel.
A statuesque gentleman of old-world elegance, the Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam is a 93-room property comprised from six 17th and 18th century grand canal houses that rest between the Herengracht Canal (Gentleman’s Canal) and the hotel’s expansive private garden – among the largest private gardens in all of Amsterdam.
Two suited doormen welcomed us warmly, but with confusion about our lack of luggage coming from the United States. We explained our temporary dilemma and insisted that the personal shopping service offered to us wasn’t necessary. As we checked in, we were presented with a box of Cire Trudon fragrances to have sprayed in our room at turndown. Such a charming touch!
From reception, we strolled past a grand central swoon-worthy staircase, an immense 18th century intricately carved wooden fixture (the only one of its kind still standing in the city) surrounded by decorative baroque sculptures designed by renowned architect Daniel Marot.
We then descended a staircase to the hotel’s flagship two-Michelin-starred Librije’s Zusje Amsterdam where chef Sidney Schuette pairs locally grown ingredients with his signature Asian flair presented in a colorful innovative way for a culinary journey like no other (we had the pleasure of dining with the Librije’s Zusje in subsequent evenings). What I found most impressive (but not surprising after dining) was the restaurant’s impressive rise to two Michelin stars in the 2015 Guide after merely 7 months of being open!
Next we headed to the hotel’s Vault Bar, appropriately named for its speakeasy feel and predated function as a vault when the grand canal house was previously home to a bank. Gold-numbered safe-deposit boxes stacked high behind the bar serve as shelves for top-shelf liquors. I caught a glimpse of a cocktail paired with cotton candy served swirled high in a ceramic ice cream cone that I plan to indulge in on my next visit!
We arrived at the door of our King Grand Premier room. As the door swung open, cheery sunlight crept around the corner from the bedroom area. To the right of the hallway, a vast stretch of windows invited sunlight to fill the room and overlooked the hotel’s meticulously maintained garden. A traditional Dutch Delftware vase filled with stunning red tulips sat atop a table along with a plate of delectable macaroons.
To our surprise a large box awaited opening. In it we found everything one might need for an evening without your belongings – sleepwear, under garments, deodorant, facewipes, and even some cosmetic goodies from the spa!
I woke up the following morning to SNOW! I amsterdam had put together quite the weekend itinerary, but before the itinerary began, I wanted to take in some of my favorite parts of the city. I walked along the canals, taking in all things Amsterdam. The tall, slender, high-cheek boned locals rode bikes around as they began their day. It is a beautiful thing to watch Amsterdam as the city awakes. Not to be missed in Amsterdam in any season is the city’s infamous floating flower market, the only floating flower market in the world since 1862. (If you’re traveling out of the country with flowers, be advised you’ll need to purchase items with customs clearance.)
Our evening itinerary began with drinks and appetizers at the Pulitzer Amsterdam, originally owned by Peter Pulitzer, the grandson of Joseph Pulitzer who established the Pulitzer Prizes, and renovated head-to-toe in 2016. We toured the historic property with its combined twenty-five 17th and 18th century restored canal houses. Particularly unique about the Dutch Golden Age property is not only its history as a home to a host of impressive Dutch aristocrats (plaques in each room tell a story about who’s lived there in the past), but also its collection of Extraordinary Suites, including a book collector’s suite, art collector’s suite, antique collector’s suite and the Pulitzer suite, all with private access that gives guests the feeling of having their own private canal house.
We then boarded a luxurious canal boat to our next destination, Michelin starred Bord’Eau Restaurant Gastronomique located in five-star hotel De L’Europe. The chef-tasting menu was as delicious to eat as it was artistically beautiful to see.
And the Michelin Star Goes to…
We began our next morning at the Michelin Star Awards for the Netherlands. The Netherlands has long fought for its culinary reputation and this year added a new three-star restaurant, Inter Scaldes to its guide, and six new one-starred restaurants including Le Restaurant, The White Room, The Duchess, AIRrepublic.
Restaurant Fitzgerald and Vista Restaurant Food Bar
Appropriately, lunch would be at none other than Michelin Star RIJKS restaurant at the RIJKSMUSEUM. RIJKS not only serves up fantastic dishes, but also is the perfect lunch destination for a day of Museum touring thanks to its convenient location to both RIJKSMUSEUM and the Van Gogh Museum.
From there, it was on to the airport to venture home. Until next time, sweet Amsterdam, farewell.