I’ve stayed in some pretty ropey places on my many visits to Amsterdam, all usually within easy reach of the bars and clubs in the, erm, fragrantly scented Red Light District.
This time I’m here with my good friend Rachelle, who was last here in the heady 1990s, when we didn’t get much further than the Grasshopper bar.
But now we’re grown up, we’ve chosen to stay a 15-minute walk outside the main canal district near Vondelpark and Museumkwartier, so we have absolutely no excuse not to visit the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum this time.
Located between Leidseplein and the Spiegelkwartier – the antiques quarter – Park Centraal is an imposing corner pile with a zinc-topped domed roof and a festival of flags overlooking Vondelpark.
Originally built in 1840 as a tearoom for affluent Amsterdammers, who would come for a warming bowl of snert (thick Dutch split pea soup) after their constitutionals around the park, it was transformed into the swanky Parkzicht hotel in 1880.
After several months of heavy refurbishment to reflect the glorious Golden Age, it reopened as the chichi Park Centraal in September.
Our classic room is stylishly decorated with a Golden Age-inspired palette – think powdery blues, dark woods and rich gold trims – while parquet floors and vintage phones add to the cool Amsterdam vibe.
I particularly like the huge floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking Stadhouderskade and the Singelgracht canal.
Alternatively, you could bag a larger junior suite, a fancy duplex suite with two-storey windows and spiral staircases, or try a night in the Tower Suite, which has wraparound windows and far-reaching views.
But don’t get too comfortable, the breakfast is well worth getting up for. Served in the minimalist MOMO restaurant on the ground floor, grazing the buffet of home-baked treats, cold meats and cheeses, made-to-order hot menu, not to mention the bottomless breakfast fizz, takes a good hour or so at least.
who goes there
By being located just outside the tourist-centric hub, it tends to attract a more cultural-minded visitor – think well-heeled couples in matching cashmere rollnecks and sunglasses who order Negronis from Bar Claes, the ultra-stylish cocktail bar in the lobby.
It’s a five-minute walk from the Van Gogh Museum (tickets from £16) and Rijksmuseum (tickets from £17) where you can currently see the most famous painting in the Netherlands, Rembrandt’s The Night Watch, being restored live.
Or cross the canal to the Spiegelkwartier for excellent art galleries and antique shops.
Pride Amsterdam will be taking place from July 30 to August 7, with the theme My Gender, My Pride, while the Grachtenfestival, held in August on and around the city’s canals, is one of the cultural highlights of the Amsterdam summer: a ten- day festival of classical music at locations around the canal belt.
And for free entry into many museums and free transport, buy a City Card from the tourist office from £55.
How to book
Get a classic room at Park Centraal from £150pn.
Eurostar offers a direct service between London St Pancras and Amsterdam Central from £40 each way.
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