Centrum Hotels Amsterdam
Guide to Centrum Hotels AmsterdamMost visitors to Amsterdam first arrive at Central Station and are immediately swept into the city along the Damrak to Dam Square. Just like any modern city centre, the Damrak area boasts historical buildings, world class restaurants, and more shopping and leisure activities than you could go through in a month. Though it has been somewhat over run by souvenir shops and fast food joints, the Dam area still merits attention. People-watching doesn't get better then situating yourself on Dam square with a tall cup of coffee. Street artists and musicians own this area on pleasant days. The streets from Nieuwendijk up to Kalverstraat are full of stores, familiar and otherwise, offering huge variety at prices that won't hurt your wallet. Wander further south from the station and you will find the explosion of colour that is the flower market, a great introduction to the city's development in the Amsterdam Historical Museum, and the weird and wonderful Spuistraat.
Trams and buses go from Central Station in all directions. It can take some figuring out but locals are generally very helpful and finding your way is not much of a challenge. The local ticketing system (the strippenkart) can take some getting used to, but after a few uses the method in the madness becomes clearer. Of course, given the scale of the city, the centrum area can easily be accessed on foot. Once away from the hustle and bustle of the bigger main streets, walking is a lovely way to negotiate the canals and side streets of this aesthetically delightful city. After getting your bearings though, the best way to get to grips with the city is to hire a bike and go wherever the bike lanes take you: namely everywhere! Amsterdam offers the most bike friendly environment in the world. Purpose- built bike lanes fan out across the city and the country beyond. Cycling is such an inbuilt part of Dutch life that there really is no easier way to blend in with the locals than to saddle up and join the biking masses.
The Damrak or Centrum area has so many hotels, varying so greatly in quality, that doing your homework ahead of time will really pay off. The upside of this is that all budgets are catered for. Fortunately there is a wealth of information on hotels in the area. Some of the city's oldest hotels, such as the Victoria Hotel right opposite Central Station, are in this area and well worth investigating. Many of the larger international hotels can be found around Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal, the Damrak, and Nieuwendijk, including the Crowne Plaza, Ibis, and the NH Barbizon.
For souvenirs and keepsakes of Amsterdam you won't do better than central Amsterdam. The short street between Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal and Singel has all the miniature windmills and delft supplies you could ever need. The flower market, further south on Singel, has a wonderful assortment of flora and guidelines for where you can and cannot take certain plants (many carry permits for transport back to the USA and Canada for instance). For more luxury commodities take a look at the Bijenkorf on Damrak. This huge department store carries some original designs and great labels for men and women. Also worth exploring is the historic Magnum Plaza located behind the west side of Dam square. For the real gems though, head for Haarlemmerstraat. This long east-west running street is wonderfully atmospheric and has some of the most intriguing and unusual stores. Whether it's original clothing, cheeses, wines, curiosities, or jewellery you are after, Haarlemmerstraat probably has it.
Dutch people often modestly disparage their own cuisine. Fortunately, Dutch cuisine is not as bad as all that, plus the city has restaurants representing a huge variety of world foods. Indonesia and Surinam, both former Dutch colonies, are particularly visible but there is also a wide assortment of African, Asian, and Latin American eateries, as well as decent options for European fare. Ask for recommendations from your hotel for the best choices for your taste. Those in search of high end eating should consider d'Vijff Vlieghen off Spui for beautifully presented Dutch food. Sea food lovers won't want to miss Luscius on Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal. Midrange diners should head to Harlemmerstraat where they will be spoilt for choice with cosy, friendly eateries. Cheap eats are in abundance all around the Damrak area. We recommend the chips!
Places of interest in the area
Dam square is certainly worth a visit with its towering national monument and the summer palace, not to mention the fine Madame Tussauds house of waxworks. The Historic Museum has a great collection that opens up the history, development and modern times of Amsterdam. It also features a gallery of works by Dutch artists that is easily accessible from the street and free to view. The somewhat over rated Sex museum, detailing the history of sex and sexuality, is on Damrak and remains a huge tourist draw. Amsterdam's widest bridge, narrowest house, and monument to national literary emblem Multatuli are all in the area where Singel meets Rozengracht. Beside the famous flower market is the quaint Munt tower. The 500 year old tower stands on a busy cross roads and was originally a watch tower before serving for a time as the mint (hence the name).
Top of the club list in this area is the much too-cool Bitterzoet. This club plays Jazz, Funk, Reggae, Hip-hop, and soul, and often has lines snaking around the corner. Otherwise, this area has no shortage of small, cosy bars but they do need finding. Anywhere selling a wide range of Belgian beers is usually a good bet. Some good starting points are Café Belgique off Nieuwendijk and In de Wildeman also off Nieuwendijk. Spuistraat attracts a younger grungier crowd; highlights include Schuim and Diep. This street has an interesting vibe after dark when the mini-Red Light District comes to life and the bars and squats fill up.
Index of hotels near Centrum