Establishment neighborhood
The Duchess
Spuistraat 172, Centrum
Its location in the historic W hotel building just around the corner from Dam Square technically makes it a hotel restaurant, but The Duchess is truly in a class of its own. The soaring ceilings, lavish marble surfaces, and decadent “Nouveau-Niçoise” menu easily make it one of the most worthy special-occasion restaurants in town. Even if you’re not hunkering down for a full meal, it’s worth stopping by the stretch bar for a cocktail. To quell an aching sweet tooth, consider making an afternoon reservation at the Duchess Tea Room—the dessert spread looks like something out of Marie Antoinette.
Rokin 103, Centrum
It’s refreshingly unexpected that such a hip and immaculately turned out restaurant would call the largely tourist-packed Centrum home—though you’ll be grateful it’s there come dinner after a day of doing touristy things. The French/Asian menu is heavy on street food—spring rolls, fish cakes, dim sum—and the piping hot, delightfully flavorful pho broth is heavenly in the colder months. There’s a bar on the ground level, but you can get your booze on at dinner, too: ask for the house-made iced tea spiked. Trust.
Rembrandt House Museum
Jodenbreestraat 4, Centrum
The Rembrandt House Museum is a nice departure from Amsterdam's more conventional museums and the long lines you'll face at nearly every one. The museum building, which was the home and studio of artist Rembrandt van Rijn from 1606 to 1669, underwent extremely sophisticated restoration work in the 1990s so that would it could continue to look and feel like a house from the 17th-century. Here, you'll see many of Rembrandt's etchings, graphical pieces, and paintings. There are also demonstrations daily that are fun for the kids—either the etching printing process or a behind-the-scenes look at how paint was made in Rembrandt's day.
Dutch National Opera & Ballet
Amstel 3, Centrum
Seeing an opera or a ballet in Amsterdam is—in a word—magical. Housed in the canal-side Stopera building, which is also home to Amsterdam's City Hall, the Dutch National Opera and Ballet took on its current name in early 2014 to reflect the official partnership of the Dutch National Ballet, The Amsterdam Music Theatre, and De Nederlandse Opera (also renamed to the Dutch National Opera). In 2016, the Dutch National Opera and the Dutch National Ballet will share the stage for the first time in a production of Hector Berlioz's Roméo et Juliette, directed by Sasha Waltz. The rest of the programming for 2016 and 2017 looks just as wonderful.
Hotel V
Nes 49, Centrum
There are actually two locations of Hotel V in Amsterdam, one in Centrum and one in Grachtengordel. Each is decked out in a warm design scheme that’s a mix of modern and vintage Scandinavian furniture alongside quirky accent pieces like antique portraits and decadent chandeliers. The hipster vibe is strong, too, with concierges decked out in Canadian tuxedoes and a bar menu that’s big on craft cocktails, which is usually filled with locals. The rooms themselves are a welcome place to settle in for a few days, with comfortable beds, cool bathrooms, and (worth mentioning since it's such a game-changer) excellent shower pressure.