A Weekend of Love...
Welcome back to my blog, I hope you all had wonderful weekends. I was very lucky to be whisked away on Friday evening to celebrate our anniversary in the quirky city of Amsterdam. I love weekend breaks and always put a plan together to ensure we pack in as much as possible and experience what's unique about each city.
In typical style, I did a wealth of research from my usual "Wallpaper" and "Luxe City Guides" as well as trawling the internet and checking out some of my favourite bloggers. I wanted to find stores that were unique to the city and truly represent it's style and ranging from fashion to beauty and homewares. Whilst planning is really fun, Mark loves to wander and explore more organically so we decided to leave a few 'blanks' to allow us to stumble across some hidden gems....which we did!
So, here's my guide of some cool places to check out if you're enjoying a weekend in this city. You'll see that all my shopping picks are really close by each other. The reason for that is I consciously focussed on the famous 'Nine Streets' area which is a quaint shopping district positioned around the three main canals. There's lots of great places here so I'd suggest really exploring and soaking up all this incredible area has to offer.....enjoy!
To Rest Your Heads...
Andaz Hotel - Prisengrachet 587 - www.andaz.hyatt.com
This former canal-side library has benefited from a stylish makeover at the hands of designer, Marcel Wanders to be transformed into an inspired, luxury hotel. Owned by super group, Hyatt the Andaz offers not only a stylish, "instagram-able" stay but top-class customer service, fantastic food from the hotel's Blue Spoon restaurant and an impressive drinks offer from the lobby bar. Nice touches include a spa, an Alice in Wonderland inspired garden, complimentary wine time each evening from 5pm-7pm and a range of bikes to borrow and explore the city with. So quintessentially Amsterdam and a lovely experience plus we both slept really well!
1. Denham Accessories - Concept Store - Prinsengracht 531 - www.denhamthejeanmaker.com
The brand, Denham is recognised as one of the finest "jean makers" hailing from the Netherlands. They also have two apparel stores round the corner on Runstraat (one mens and one ladies) but it was the accessories store I liked. I really loved this place - really nice edit of carefully selected trainers and fashion accessories reside amongst a great cup of coffee.
2. Amator - Womens Fashion - Runstraat 26 - www.amatorcollection.com
Amator was founded by Eline Starink in 2011 in response to her friends searching for a more personal touch amongst a sea of monochrome fashion. I'm glad to say that this seems to have been achieved. Two smart trends happening in fashion just now are very prominent in their current collection - feminist embroidery and the gentlewomanly style - both executed really well. The staff were lovely and spoke about the collection with contagious enthusiasm without being pushy. Visit and enjoy!
3. Skins Cosmetics - Beauty Store - Runstraat 11 - www.skins.nl
A must visit for any beauty fan. I visited the fragrance store which probably stocked 70% fragrance with the remaining 30% cosmetics, skincare and haircare. Beautifully merchandised with a great range of brands including Frederic Malle, Aesop, Le Labo, Creed and Diptique. Whilst small their cosmetics edit as good and I was particularly thrilled by the range from The Brow Gal. For a larger range of Skin's cosmetics and skincare, visit their beauty store located in Van Baerlestraat 27.
4. Mendo - Bookshop - Berenstraat 11 - www.mendo.nl
I'm a real sucker for a great book store so when I spotted this cavern of intrigue during my research it was a must-see. Mendo curates an amazing collection of books focused on stylish living - fashion, photography, art, food and travel. The store itself is beautifully designed with dark walls (made from actual books) and cooper lighting fixtures. Mendo describe themselves as a candy store for book aficionados and they certainly live up to their claim.
5. Catwalk Junkie - Womens Fashion - Prinsengracht 419 - http://www.catwalkjunkie.com
I really liked this store...Catwalk Junkie focussed on everyday pieces with a focus on loungewear and workout wear. The embroidered and statement sweatshirts were made of the softest jersey and the quality of the cotton on the t-shirts and dresses was really good. Finally, the accessories and store details gave this store a real tribal environment, creating products for it's loyal fans.
6. Ou Boutique Stories - Womens Fashion - Reestraat 16 - www.boutiquestories.com
Founded by the brains behind the 9 Street website (http://www.9straatjesonline.com) this store was packed full of all sorts of fun products. Stock is cast ranging from fashion to accessories to shoes to small homewares but with a cohesive style and aesthetic running across the ranges. Brands such as Amator (featured store 2), BA&SH, Current Elliot, Selected Femme and Love Stories sat well as an electric mix.
7. Anna + Nina - Style Store - Reguliersgracht 85h - www.anna-nina.nl
Anna + Nina featured on almost every article and in every book I read. Established just a few years ago as a jewellery agency, the brand has developed into a retail concept store and successfully at that! We both enjoyed browsing this store checking out their quirky interiors, easy to wear fashions, beautiful costume jewellery and kids gifts. Try and leave here without purchasing - it's almost impossible!
8. Zoe Karssen - Women's Fashion - Reestraat9 - www.zoekarssen.com
Zoe Karssen t-shirts and hoodies have been regular additions to my seasonal wardrobe for years. I first discovered this brand when I worked at Harrods about 7 years ago. The concept remains the same, cheeky slogan and graphic tees and sweats are main stay but I was intrigued by the embellished and embroidered jeans as well as the swimwear range. The staff here were super lovely and I could have bought half the store. The eyeball jeans are on my hit list for sure!
1. Friday Night's relaxed food choice - Pizza Bakkers - Haarlemmerdijk 128 - http://www.depizzabakkers.nl
In our book, arriving for a city break on a Friday evening requires a couple of drinks, getting your bearings and some comfort food to aid a good night's sleep. We wandered for a few kilometres before realising we were rather lost and going to a local bar so check out google maps and escape from the rain. The locals were lovely, although surprised we had made it to their residential district! We were lucky to enjoy some great local drinks as well as being recommended De Pizza Bakkers for Pizza and Prosecco. We agreed we'd recommend this place to anyone and everyone for yummy food, a chilled atmosphere and great people watching.
2. Saturday Lunch - Spanjer + Van Twist - Leliegracht 60 - https://www.facebook.com/SpanjerenvanTwist
After shopping and wandering around the various areas of the city we needed a rest and a light lunch. We were lucky to stumble upon Spanjer + Van Twist, proving Mark's theory of being spontaneous can really pay off! Mark enjoyed the avocado hotdog and I had a smoked chicken caesar and we shared some traditional dutch bitterballen (meat croquettes). Simple but yummy.
3. Saturday Night Dinner - Moeders - Rozengracht 251 - www.moeders.com
Quirky places with a real sense of personality are my favourite. Moeders really encapsulates this without pretence. Moeders is the Dutch word for mothers which perfectly describes the feel of this place - home cooking in a cosy environment with a caring service. All the food was traditional which is what we wanted and extremely tasty. My favourite bit was the pictures of mothers on the wall donated by staff past and present and of course, the restaurant's patrons.
We had the most amazing weekend in this cultural and chilled out city. Amsterdam has a bit of a seedy reputation which I feel is really unfair. It's an incredibly friendly city with a great relaxed vibe - perfect for a stressed-out Londoner! The quintessential canals and bikes really add to the kitch-ness in very non-contrived way. We left wanting more which is always a good sign with a list of places to visit when we go back.