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Amsterdam Revisit



Labor Day Weekend

Amsterdam, The Netherlands

I just returned from a whirlwind weekend in Amsterdam to celebrate the marriage of my sister-in-law to an incredibly charismatic Dutch fellow.  With unprecedented sunny weather and a joyous occasion upon us, the weekend was a total success. Not to mention, I was fortunate enough to stay at the newly renovated, (to the tune of 61 Million EURO) De L’Europe. (formerly the Hotel de L’Europe)

The elegant facade and wraparound terrace

The elegant facade and wraparound terrace

Long considered a spot for respite right in the midst of the city’s buzzing center, the iconic hotel has furthered the notion by combining updated, Dutch-modern furnishings – think comfy white couches – within traditional 19th century architecture and reproductions of the famous, Dutch Masters artwork. The dimensions of the hotel’s new Dutch Masters Wing are rather substantial, particularly the 42 suites, whose ample space encourage a hosting of the beloved Dutch tradition of “borrel” (cocktails and appetizers) in one’s room. If you want to ensure the borrel of the year, book the six-bedroom signature suite, which features a wrap-around terrace overlooking the canal.

Also new to the hotel are the guestroom’s 21st century amenities like the iPad directories found in the rooms, motion lighting footpaths (key for jetlagged travelers), TV-imbedded mirrors and my favorite, (and too oft-ommitted)  heated bathroom floors done in a striking aquamarine mosaic tile. The room’s custom fragrance, L’Eau De L’Europe, is well worth noting for its sweet subtlety, along with the hotel’s signature skincare line created by parfumeur Blaise Mautin with face creams for men and women. However, despite the hotel’s considerable updates, the charm of the hotel remains with the hotel’s enviable location, right across from the flower market and its Euro-chic terrace, complete with umbrellas and flowerpots situated right along the bed of a canal.

The redesigned lobby of the de l'europe

The redesigned lobby of the de l'europe

Whether the canal and city views are appreciated from your room’s balcony (if you can swing it, book it!) or from the terrace, or even the gym’s ground level windows, the view’s constant boat traffic and cling-cling of passing bicycles on the street is so wonderfully and iconically Amsterdam, that it makes staying at the L’Europe even more rewarding.

Must Do’s: Dining out on the hotel’s terrace, wisely equipped with heating lamps for the cool Amsterdam temperatures. The steak tartare is delicious and the wine selection wonderfully robust. Chef Richard van Oostenbruggee oversees all 3 restaurants and offers easily one of the city’s top dining options. Alas, if the weather just won’t cooperate (likely for Amsterdam), head to breakfast late and enjoy it with a view from one of the window-fronting tables in the dining room.

Posted in: Europe

Published by Meg, Tuesday, September 6, 2011 No Comments

October 26th, 2009

Amsterdam’s annual PAN fair is a veritable who’s-who in the art world here, displaying the country’s finest art, antiques, silver and estate jewelery. I must admit, the sparkling and shiny items always commandeer the majority of my attention.

angles of PAN

angles of PAN

Attracting more than 35,000 visitors, PAN Amsterdam appeals to everyone from young to old, museum curators to private art enthusiasts, and especially, interior designers. The twenty-two year running PAN Amsterdam prides itself on quality, with every object vetted for authenticity, artistic quality and condition by more than eighty experts. This strict judging process allows buyers to purchase with unfettered confidence. Alas, it wasn’t enough to compel my husband towards a certain Tanzanite ring.

oh pretty, pretty ring

oh pretty, pretty ring

Last year, PAN Amsterdam introduced a design pavilion featuring 20th-century furniture and lamps by leading national and international designers such as Charles and Ray Eames, Charlotte Perriand, Isamo Noguchi, Gerrit Rietveld, W.H. Gispen and Grete Jalk. This made PAN Amsterdam the first general art and antiques fair to give vintage design a permanent, prominent showcase.

With so much to see, ogle over and add to your wish list, its not surprising that PAN Amsterdam is also a bit of a social affair where colleagues can mingle, friends can peruse side by side and of course, students and budding collectors can learn a great deal. The Young Collectors night was last Thursday, and was like a mixer among fine art with a DJ, passed hors d’oevures and attractive, young Dutchies dressed in their finest.

Oh the Dutch boys

Oh the Dutch boys

One of the booths was run by my husband’s good friend, Bertwin’s lovely wife Anne-Marie Verbeek. Her family’s gorgeous antiques and fine art company, Verbeek-Schuttelaar Antiquair, was one of the more impressive displays (and I promise that’s not from personal bias – I’d never even met her before). I easily lingered while my husband chatted away, adoring all the beautiful jewelery and silver from the likes of Cartier, Boucheron, Tiffany and Van Cleef & Arpels. Anne-Marie specializes in 1940s jewelery and Art Deco and will even personalize modern designs. Many of her pieces were absolutely exquisite.  Her store is located right in Amsterdam in a charming canal house on the Keizersgracht – conveniently not far from where I live.

Some of her enviable silver

Some of her enviable silver

I highly recommend visiting PAN Amsterdam – though plead that you ask for directions to its location, the RAI, first. The warehouse style building is a bit out of the city and somewhat difficult to find. I declare the metro as the easiest way, not to mention the rare experience you’ll garner from having ridden the metro in Amsterdam!

Posted in: Europe

Published by Meg, Tuesday, December 1, 2009 No Comments

Affordable Art Fair




October 28th, 2009

Upon my move to Amsterdam, I reached out to the Dutch Tourism Board in an effort to introduce myself (get plugged into upcoming events) as a  new journalist. Just  my luck, they were extremely responsive (far nicer than the PR department at KLM) and right away I was invited to the preview party of Amsterdam’s annual Affordable Art Fair.


I must admit, I was very eager to go and for more than just professional reasons…after all, this was to be my debut on the Dutch media scene!   And maybe, just maybe, my husband and I would spot something suitable for our new home.

The Affordable Art Fair in Amsterdam

The Affordable Art Fair in Amsterdam

The Affordable Art Fair debuted in London in 1999 by a gallery owner in Battersea and from there the idea caught on like wildfire.  Cities like New York, Melbourne and Glasgow called him, eager to do the same – encourage art enthusiasts of all wallet sizes with over 500 galleries showing.  Though the AAF events are connected by name, each city has its own management office and given art tastes differ from city to city. In Amsterdam, the art tends to be more Modern than traditional or contemporary.

Stalls in the Westergasfabriek

Stalls in the Westergasfabriek

The entry price for Amsterdam’s fair  is said to be 100 euro, though the least expensive thing I spied was 600.  My husband and I biked to the fair (naturally), which was housed in a former gas warehouse just beyond the center of the city – very industrial chic.

The opening party attracted hordes of people (so much for it being the exclusive press debut I had hoped for) and appeared to be a huge success. People were milling about, wine glass in hand jovially chatting while gallery reps were eager to share information and push the sell. Some looked as though they were there purely for the social benefit.

Walking around, I was surprised to find a few things that caught my eye. Admittedly, I am hardly an art conaisseur, let alone Modern Art.

Dutch contemporary artist

Popular contemporary Dutch artist

One of the artisits whose work I very much liked but which was sadly  NOT affordable

One of the artists whose work I very much liked but was sadly NOT affordable

Just as we were about to leave, my husband and I actually happened upon a print that we both adored. As the gallery manager pushed his go-to line, “It’s so rare when both members of the couple are drawn to a piece equally”. We shared a longing look and excitedly secured of our first art purchase.

Entitled "Cowger" with the caption "The Cow who wanted to be a Tiger"

From up-and-coming English artist Carl Moore, “The Cow Who Wanted to be a Tiger” caught us both with its charm and color scheme and given our own tiger fantasies, seemed like a must-have. The print is one of a series of 25 animals that Moore has done and we hope (once our wallets expand) to add a few of the others to our collection.

The Affordable Art Fair in Amsterdam runs through the first week of November and then heads back down to Sydney and then to London in March 2010. Be sure to check any of them out if you can. They’re a great time to mingle if not, purchase.

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Published by Meg, Saturday, October 31, 2009 No Comments

about meg

About Meg


Meg is the founder of luxury travel consulting company, Friend of a Friend Consulting. Her three books, Italian Hideaways, Caribbean Hideaways and England's Hideaways are published by Rizzoli. Passionate about travel, hotels and wine, she continues to write freelance travel pieces and is currently pursuing a Masters in Wine through the WSET.

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The opinions expressed on this blog are solely my own and do not reflect separate business relationships with the subject. Whenever posts are supported financially, they are designated as such.