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
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
glastonbury
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Shock of the news: Jake Gyllenhaal in ‘Nightcrawler’
filmReview: Gyllenhaal, in one of his finest performances, is funny, engaging and sinister all at once
Life and Style
Taste the difference: Nell Frizzell tucks into a fry-up in Jesse's cafe in east London
food + drinkHow a bike accident left one woman living in a distorted world in which spices smell of old socks and muesli tastes like pork fat
Arts and Entertainment
Kit Harington has been given a huge pay rise to extend his contract as Jon Snow in Game of Thrones
tv
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Arts and Entertainment
Don’t send in the clowns: masks and make-up conceal true facial expressions, thwarting our instinct to read people’s minds through their faces, as seen in ‘It’
filmThis Halloween, we ask what makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?
News
peopleFarage challenges 'liberally biased' comedians to 'call him a narcissist'
Arts and Entertainment
Liam and Zayn of One Direction play with a chimpanzee on the set of their new video for 'Steal My Girl'
music
Arts and Entertainment
Young Fathers are the surprise winners of this year's Mercury Music Prize
music
News
i100
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
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

    Sales Manager - Commercial Cable & Wire - UK

    £60,000 - £75,000: Recruitment Genius: As a top tier supplier to the major Aer...

    ORNC Visitor Experience Volunteer

    Unpaid voluntary work: Old Royal Naval College: Join our team of friendly volu...

    Junior Application Support Engineer (ERP / SSRS)

    £23000 - £30000 per annum + pension, 25days holiday: Ashdown Group: An industr...

    IT Systems Analyst / Application Support Engineer (ERP / SSRS)

    £23000 - £30000 per annum + pension, 25days holiday: Ashdown Group: An industr...

    Day In a Page

    The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

    The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

    Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
    The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

    Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

    Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
    Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

    Fall of the Berlin Wall

    It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
    Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

    What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

    Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
    A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

    Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

    Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
    Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

    'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

    A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

    Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

    The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
    Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

    Paul Scholes column

    Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
    Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

    Frank Warren column

    Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
    Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

    Adrian Heath's American dream...

    Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
    Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

    Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

    Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
    Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

    A Syrian general speaks

    A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
    ‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

    ‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

    Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
    Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

    Fall of the Berlin Wall

    History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
    How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

    Turn your mobile phone into easy money

    There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes