The Hedonist: Amsterdam

The hedonism begins with a smile and strong drink. A grinning female face appears from behind a plain, black door to welcome me from the neon-infused giddiness of central Amsterdam to modern speakeasy Door74 (00 31 6 3404 5122;
door74.nl).





Inside, there's no natural light, just gently glowing orange lamps, and the barmen wear waistcoats, bow ties and have slicked-back hair. Outside is Reguliersdwarsstraat, a strip of gay bars and townhouses known, in the bluntly jovial Dutch style, as Rue de Vaseline.



My drinking buddy and I are shown to a booth and presented with a drinks menu. When we have questions about how one drink is made, our gracious hostess calls over a barman to explain the difference between an "old-fashioned" Old Fashioned and the newer variety (which adds a splash of superfluous soda).



This slick drinking den is dedicated to the consumption of well-constructed cocktails and nothing else. The small lounge, with its large armchairs and dark wood finishes, is around a quarter full, with a dozen punters intently imbibing. A preppy Dutch couple at the next table look like they may have just stepped out of a Ralph Lauren advert. We test the talents of the mixologists for a couple of rounds, and are thus suitably fortified for dinner.



It's a hop along cobbled streets to the serenity of the Amstel River and its namesake hotel, a grandiose five-star spot that hosts Michelin-starred La Rive and its tastefully traditional dining room (00 31 20 520 3264; restaurantlarive.com). The seven-course tasting menu matched with wine won't leave much change from €200, but with that comes the guarantee that each plate brings exquisite flavours of modern European cuisine.



We opt for mains only, and my hare with quince, gingerbread and mushrooms is the kind of gamey delight that could convert a vegetarian on the spot. Ted Bunnik, possibly the most affable and unpretentious sommelier in the history of the business, offers gentle and knowledgeable guidance on wine. This is fine dining with a friendly face.



But this being Amsterdam, a night of hedonism wouldn't be complete without a dip into the murkily kitsch adult Disneyland of the red-light district. So with dinner done, we head for the old town.



The spiel from the Bananen Bar's ( bananenbar.nl) doorman promises all the booze we can quaff in an hour, for €45. Behind the bar is a raised, red, velvety banquette with five blondes sitting at beer taps. In front of them, the game: giggling patrons on bar stools.



We enter. Save for one wide-eyed couple in their twenties, all the clientele are male. The performers dish out the drinks and banter, with each one offering a different performance for €50. First to do her turn is a Dutch woman with a vibrator... We drink our hour's worth of beer, politely decline shows of our own and leave. It's a Friday, approaching midnight, and the RLD is buzzing with giggles, gasps, and garrulous banter in a dozen different languages.



Ten minutes of slightly unsteady cycling later we're in Leidseplein, another hub of hubbub. At Suzy Wong (00 31 20 626 6769; suzy-wong.nl) the décor is east meets west – a tad Parisian, but heavily done up with the atmosphere of the Orient. It's all very slickly put together, and attracts a suitably hip crowd. We sample the mojito menu, and admire the pretty people gently moving to chilled-out funk. It's a healthy slap of sophistication after the RLD, but we're edging towards the wee hours, and it's time to jump about somewhere with a stickier floor.



As we enter Melkweg (00 31 20 531 8181; melkweg.nl) there are two large rooms: hip-hop to the right, indie and big beat to the left. Amsterdam's club scene is better known for its house and techno, and spots such as Club NL (00 31 20 622 7510), Club Home (00 31 20 620 1375) and Panama (00 31 20 311 8686; panama.nl) rarely fail to deliver, the latter typically pushing on until 5am. But given our diminishing coordination, Melkweg feels a better match.



After a couple of hours of bouncing around we head off, my drinking buddy to his home, and me to the lavish loveliness of The Dylan (00 31 20 530 2010; dylanamsterdam.com), a 17th-century building on the Keizersgracht, one of the city's grandest canals.



A Hedonist's Guide to... (Hg2) is a luxury city guide series for the more decadent traveller. For more information, see hg2.com

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Guru Careers: Dining Room Head Chef

    £32K: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Dining Room Head Chef to work for one of ...

    Guru Careers: Pastry Sous Chef / Experienced Pastry Chef

    £27K: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Pastry Sous Chef / Experienced Pastry Che...

    Ashdown Group: Technical IT Manager - North London - Growing business

    £40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A growing business that has been ope...

    Recruitment Genius: Technical Supervisor

    £24800 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As one of London's leading Muse...

    Day In a Page

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before