Head to Amsterdam to enjoy a sensational new five-star hotel designed by Marcel Wanders
Why's it hot? What was once a staid 1970s public library has been transformed into a fun-filled five-star hotel with exuberant interiors by Marcel Wanders. The Dutch designer co-founded Moooi, famous for its lamp set on a full-size horse, and recently created a range of gifts, homeware and accessories for Marks and Spencer.
Amsterdam − ah, yes that's where I am...
What's it got? 122 rooms (including five suites) decorated in a bright, fun style with white walls and a midnight blue ceiling. A large, somewhat unsettling, photo of a fish swims above the bed while a pair of clogs painted like a clown's face adorns the opposite wall. Welcome touches include free wifi, a mini-library of Amsterdam-relevant books, a minibar with complimentary soft drinks and snacks, and a loo covered with wallpaper printed with entertaining snippets about the city's past. The Bluespoon Restaurant is devoted to local produce with a menu that includes traditional codfish stamppot (mixed with mashed potatoes) − try it with the little-known Dutch white wine De Kleine Schorre from Zealand. Breakfast is a sumptuous banquet well worth taking time over, and there's also a fitness centre and a small Urban Spa with a sauna and two treatment rooms.
Go Dutch at the Bluespoon Restaurant, Andaz Amsterdam Prinsengracht
Wow factor: Drawing inspiration from Amsterdam's rich history, the interiors of the lobby make witty reference to old maps and prints and the building's bookish past while huge white bells, coloured lights and bright red oversized chairs add a contemporary zing. It's worth riding the glass-sided lift to the fifth floor to admire Wenders' graphic mural depicting Amsterdam's various layers from hell to heaven. The hotel design also features 40 works of video art dotted around the public spaces, which vary from the diverting to the downright annoying. At the back there's a large garden and courtyard overlooked by a lively mural entitled 'Alice in Amsterdam', which should be a handy place to relax in summer. And it's not just about looking good – Andaz means 'personal style' in Hindi and the hotel has a commendable 'no barriers' attitude. There is no big reception counter, for example − just itinerant, tablet-equipped staff who act as all-purpose assistants. So if you want to order breakfast at 3pm, or get a large hat-stand wrapped ahead of your flight home − they'll fix it.
Terraced houses in The Nine Streets, Amsterdam
Need to know: Prinsengracht is part of an upmarket canalside neighbourhood known as The Nine Streets (de9straatjes.nl) which is full of delightful little shops and cosy spots to eat and drink. Leather bags and vintage lights are good buys and don't miss the wonderfully fragrant cheese shop De Kaaskamer van Amsterdam (e-cheese.nl). Envy (envy.nl) is an easygoing place to dine and wine while Café Pieper (424 Prinsengracht) is a friendly 'brown bar' where you can try some Dutch ale or gin. There are two photography galleries nearby worth checking out (huismarseille.nl; foam.org) and you can also stroll along to the Tassenmuseum Hendrikje (tassenmuseum.nl) which is devoted to handbags and purses. If you plan to do lots of sightseeing get a combined museum and travel pass (iamsterdam.com). And watch you don't get mowed down by cyclists...
Book now: KLM (klm.com) flies to Amsterdam from 16 UK airports, or take the train via Brussels (eurostar.com). Double rooms at Andaz Amsterdam Prinsengracht (andazamsterdam.com) cost from £276. For more information see holland.com.
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