W Amsterdam hotel review: an entrée to the Dutch capital’s growing culinary scene


As everyone knows, there are two distinct versions of Amsterdam that visitors can experience. Either you can drop in on the weed smoking, hard drinking, all-night dancing, red-light-district-ogling party town or you can hop aboard the bicycle riding, art gallery-frequenting, canal-hopping cultural capital.

In fact, though, there is a third side to the Dutch capital: its growing culinary scene. Hip new restaurants and experimental cafés (no, not that kind of café) are opening every week. For a perfect gastronomic getaway, you could do worse than to check in to the luxurious W Amsterdam hotel, as The Week Portfolio did recently.

Why stay

(Image credit: Lutz Vorderwuelbecke)

The W Amsterdam hotel is, unusually, bisected by a road. The two facing hotel buildings both have guest rooms and suites but also house different facilities that make crossing the road in between an integral part of the W Amsterdam experience.

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Exchange, the former site of Amsterdam’s telephone exchange, houses the rooftop W Lounge, Mr Porter steak restaurant and, down in the basement, the exclusive Mad Fox club; while Bank, so named because it used to be the site of one of the city’s main financial institutions, features the Away Spa, the Michelin-starred Duchess restaurant and a state-of-the-art gym.

We stayed in Bank, in a junior suite which came with all the basics you might expect – Wi-Fi, coffee machine, flat-screen TV – plus a bunch of features that are decidedly W, such as the wireless Marshall speaker, cocktail shakers and up-to-the-minute fashion magazines.

(Image credit: Lutz Vorderwuelbecke)

Effortless chic - the W Amsterdam's guest rooms

There is also a well-stocked minibar with everything you could possibly need for a pre-party ahead of a night on the town, plus fully automated blackout screens to shade hungover eyes from the dawn glare the next morning.

Where to eat

(Image credit: Lutz Vorderwuelbecke)


After just such a night, you might need a hearty breakfast to begin pulling yourself back together. And the best place to do it is in the W itself, where the on-site Mr Porter restaurant has you covered with a broad range of breakfast options including an unexpected but excellent buffet that includes artichokes and roasted courgettes, cured meats and cheeses, olives and roasted cauliflower with tahini.

There are also fresh-baked croissants and breads, and eggs done exactly the way you want them. The best thing on the menu, though, is the minute steak – not surprising, given this is a steak restaurant. The meat is meltingly tender, but there is not an overwhelming amount of it, which makes the prospect of steak in the morning less daunting.

photo Dan Perez www.danp.co.il

photo Dan Perez www.danp.co.il
(Image credit: Dan Perez)

For the more health-conscious, and those looking to purify themselves after a night of overindulgence, there is also a wide selection of freshly pressed juices and ginger shots. Or for those who want to keep the party going, there is bottomless Champagne.

For bookings at Mr Porter, call +31 20 811 3399 or visit mrportersteakhouse.com


(Image credit: Roel Ruijs)

Lunch at Brasserie Occo in The Dylan hotel

Amsterdam is rightly famous for its pancakes, which can be found in abundance all over town, but the quality varies greatly. For a safer bet, treat yourself to a more stylish stop at the glorious Dylan Hotel, which is not only effortlessly grand and beautifully appointed but also has two restaurants, including their more casual Brasserie Occo, where the shaded courtyard offers the perfect stop-off to enjoy lunch al fresco this summer.

After a glass of fizz (because holidays), we began with burrata, which was presented perhaps more beautifully than any burrata I’ve seen anywhere. The creamy Italian cheese came interspersed with ripped basil and a rainbow of green, yellow, red and purple tomatoes. A perfect plate. We also enjoyed a wonderfully tart ceviche of halibut with mango cubes and cashews in rose water, though in truth, the flavour of the rose water was a bit lost in the citrus. No great issue, the dish was still superb.

Our main courses were equally strong. A chicken breast, served beautifully on the bone with a sweet Marsala sauce was a delight – the lightly charred red chicory and globular large-grained mustard and pickled onion balancing things finely. My partner’s burger on a brioche bun with pancetta, avocado and onions was lighter than you might expect, and accompanied by excellent fries (the Dutch do chips exceptionally well - why is that?).

If you miss lunch, Brasserie Occo also has its own take on high tea, which it calls High Wine. Forgoing the usual tea, sandwiches and cakes combination, Occo instead offers four food and wine pairings selected by executive chef Dennis Kuipers and sommelier Natasja Noorlander – definitely worth skipping lunch for.

For bookings at OCCO Brasserie, call +31 20 530 2010 or visit: occo.nl/en/reservations


The Michelin-starred Duchess restaurant

If you want good food right on your doorstep, simply make a reservation at The Duchess, and you will be in for a candle- and chandelier-lit treat of Michelin-starred cuisine. However, if you fancy a trip beyond the very centre of the city, a visit to Bodon La Grande Brasserie located in the canal-side Apollo Hotel Amsterdam (also part of the Marriott International Hotel Group to which W Amsterdam belongs), is a very good bet.

Belgian designer Will Erens has created a spectacularly eclectic space that brings together hints of art nouveau, art deco, and touches of island-resort chic. It could have been a clutter of oddities, but in fact the space is a visual delight and profoundly Instagram-friendly, if that is your thing.

Eclecticism reigns at Bodon La Grande Brasserie

Even more than the décor, though, what recommends the restaurant most of all is its utterly charming waiting team, who by the end of the meal felt curiously like friends.

The food here is also top-notch. Unashamedly traditionally French – think escargots de Bourgogne, bouillabaise, fruit de mer, tarte tatin and so on – and yet none of it feels in the least dated. Perhaps this is because there is something timeless about these dishes, which, having been stripped back to their essence during the era of molecular gastronomy, are now being recreated in their traditional form.

Our first dish was a broad-rimmed plate with a thick fennel, potato and langoustine bisque at its heart and a ring of the pale crustacean’s meat, radishes and crunchy leaves around the edge. Beautiful to look at, equally beautiful to consume. My partner went for the salmon tartar – a disc of raw fish, topped with a light scattering of frisée lettuce and accompanied with circles of piped horseradish.

My main could not have been much more French if it had turned up in a beret, twirling its moustache and saying “‘allo ‘allo”. A stack of deliciousness, featuring brioche at its base, a near inch-thick fried beef tenderloin on its mezzanine level, and a thick slice of fried goose liver at the top, which was drizzled with a rich truffle jus. A torrent of black truffle was then shaved over it all at the table for good measure. A triumph.

Across from me was a sautéed North Sea plaice fillet with a creamy remoulade and fresh salad – a light yin to my rich, heavy yang.

To finish the meal, we found ourselves the envy of the room, having ordered the crèpes Suzette to share. The “en flambé!” preparation at our table was a spectacle – and one that was soon replicated around the room as more diners got in on the act. The resulting crèpes offered the right balance of citrus and booze, transforming the humble pancake into an indulgent dessert. The perfect end to a gastronomically exceptional weekend.

For bookings at Bodon La Grande Brasserie, call +31 20 570 5724 or visit bodonlagrandebrasserie.com

The Week Portfolio stayed at The W Amsterdam, Spuistraat 175, 1012 VN. For rates and bookings, visit wamsterdam.com

The best of the rest


This buzzing restaurant offers “some of the most inventive new-Dutch cuisine in town”, says The Daily Telegraph. Italian charcuterie is a speciality, along with excellent Dutch gourmet sausages, all served up in a low-lit fashionable setting.

Blue Pepper

Indonesian in Amsterdam? It is only as strange a concept as Japanese in London, or Indian in Manchester. And besides, this restaurant near Leidseplein “combines tongue-tantalising food with designer décor”, says Time Out. Blue Pepper is fashionable without being overly fussy, “and always impressive both in terms of atmosphere and eats”.


Would you like your food with a view? Then set a course across the 20th floor of the A’DAM Tower to this cool spot, which offers panoramic views of the Dutch capital. By day it is relaxed, with a compact menu, but at night it transforms into “a trendy restaurant and bar with live DJs”, with menu items including côte de boeuf and a Black Angus burger, “as well as more refined dishes”, says Eater.

REM Eiland

Great views are also on offer at this former pirate TV broadcasting platform, which eventually wound up in the Houthavens neighbourhood and reopened as a restaurant. It’s in the water, so you take a pedestrian bridge to get there and walk up a few of flights of stairs. The exterior looks like a collection of Lego blocks, and the one-time rooftop helipad now houses an outdoor bar. “Casual lunches (gourmet sandwiches et al) segue to bar snacks and then dinner mains like guinea fowl with parsnip mousseline, or veal fillet with potato gratin and black-truffle sauce,” says Lonely Planet.

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Arion McNicoll is a freelance writer at The Week Digital and was previously the UK website’s editor. He has also held senior editorial roles at CNN, The Times and The Sunday Times. Along with his writing work, he co-hosts “Today in History with The Retrospectors”, Rethink Audio’s flagship daily podcast, and is a regular panellist (and occasional stand-in host) on “The Week Unwrapped”. He is also a judge for The Publisher Podcast Awards.