Dear hearts, fresh from researching our new LUXE Amsterdam, it appears to me that, for far too long, the old Dutch master has been portrayed as all dykes and bikes and everyone tiptoeing through the tulips. The truth is that beyond the tourist-trampled paths in the old centre lurks a real retail stunner. The canal capital with the head of a metropolis and heart of a village is actually one breathtaking beauty with enough must-have shopping to fill three Belstaff totes, and then some.
While the picturesque Canal Ring's Nine Streets are simply adorable, the city's monied style crew fly under the radar in the residential Old South, with its amazing museums, tree-lined streets, acres of parkland and, of course, bounteous shopportunity. Guess where we're going...
Start with a bang at SPRMRKT STH (00 31 20 470 2558; sprmrkt.nl) at Willemsparkweg 168, opposite the Cornelis Schuytstraat tram stop. It carries achingly cool brands such as Helmut Lang, Julius, The Individualists and Monique van Heist – best for guys and gals who know what to do with that extra sleeve on your shirt or flap on your slacks.
Sorted? Cross the tramline into Cornelis Schuytstraat for Van Dam brasserie and traiteur (00 31 20 670 6570) at No 8-10: great for local celeb spotting and a natter. Buise (00 31 20 670 4904; buise.nl) at No 12 is a ladies' fash fave for dresses, tops and accessories, with a romantic, hippie-chic twist from Joseph, Antik Batik, Isabel Marant, Paul & Joe and co.
Blue Blood Boutique + Trois (00 31 20 673 3847; bluebloodbrand.com) at No 18 is a hip and cool denim house, with edgy, own-brand jeans, plus vintage Chanel, Lanvin and Pucci in the shop-within-a-shop out back. Meanwhile, Charly Ensuite (00 31 20 670 1370; charlyensuite.nl) at No 48 is an ultra stylish haven for the ladies, with delicious worth-a-splash pieces from Barbara Bui, Giambattista Valli, Yigal Azrouël et al.
Now, cut across the square and totter down Cornelis Schuytstraat along the other side. Make a beeline for Repeat (00 31 20 676 8983; repeatcashmere.com) at No 31 which is long on soft, caress-me cashmere dresses and cardies, ooh...
Super One (00 31 20 671 5239; 1-store.nl) at No 19 will sort the men from the boys, with studly brands like Penfield, Barbour, Smedley and short star Orlebar Brown nestling in a ruggedly pleasing fit-out. Fizz-hot Amsterdam fashion secret Ennu (00 31 20 673 5265; ennu.nl) is hidden behind the smoked glass at No 15 with a tightly edited range of haute-right-now designers for men and women – think Balenciaga, Maison Martin Margiela, Haider Ackermann and Rick Owens; big labels, big prices – but beauty costs, my dear.
Next up, don't get trapped in the straps by Marlies Dekkers (00 31 20 471 4146; marliesdekkers.com) at No 13, who keeps Dutch décolletés in shape (and hubby happy) with her boob-boosting bras, then join the pollen nation by buzzing into wonder florist Menno Kroon (00 31 20 679 1950; mennokroon.nl) at No 11, who's just bursting with gorgeous arrangements. Finally Shoebaloo (00 31 20 662 5779; shoebaloo.com) at No 9 is a Prada, Gucci and Jacobs-based stiletto, sneaker and bag stash: guaranteed to make you rash and flash that cash.
Now then, it's time to grab your booty and plonk your tired pins down (try for a patio table) at Brasserie de Joffers (00 31 20 673 0360; brasseriedejoffers.nl) at Willemsparkweg 163, famed for its Botoxed blonde and gossipy gay meet'n'greety crowd packing in for a well-earned glass or six of sauce. Go on, sip, see and be seen. Proost!
Grant Thatcher is the editor of LUXE City Guides, the cult pocket city guides and mobile apps for the busy, fun-loving, sophisticated luxury traveller. For more information, see luxecityguides.com
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