The New York Times – Travel Section
Amsterdam on $250 a Day
SLEEP Assuming that Amsterdam’s rollicking hostel scene isn’t for you, the best bets for cheap accommodation are mostly found outside the old city center. Hotel Linda (Stadhouderskade 130; 31-20-673-8739; http://www.hotellinda.nl) is a pleasant spot in the charming Pijp neighborhood. It’s convenient (a number of tram lines are a short walk away) and most of the hotel’s 40 rooms are more spacious than you’d expect. (As with most buildings on Amsterdam’s canals, the stairs are comically steep.) Cost: Prices for a double room start at 150 euros on weekends, but on weekdays are as low as 75 euros.
EAT The complicated, layered history of the Netherlands’ colonial past has given birth to Amsterdam’s amazing variety of cuisine, as well as every sort of hybrid. Start with lunch at Nam Kee (Zeedijk 111-113; 31-20-624-3470; http://www.namkee.net), a city icon that serves delicious Chinese fare like Peking duck with pancakes and scallions (5.35 euros) and giant steamed oysters in black bean sauce (2.50 euros each; you’ll need at least two for each diner) — the latter a signature dish that inspired a Dutch novel and movie. Then continue the global feast with dinner at Kam Yin (Warmoesstraat 6; 31-20-625-3115), which serves Surinamese-Chinese cuisine; the plain restaurant’s dizzying menu includes everything from curries to chop suey. The waitress will tell you all the rotis are good, but the frugal choice is the chicken special (5 euros): succulent dark meat served with doughy flatbread, string beans and a mildly spicy broth. Other tasty options include the fried rice with pork belly, roast pork and chicken (7 euros) and the spicy fried noodles with pork and prawns (10 euros). Cost: About 10.35 euros for lunch, 22 euros for dinner, for a total of 32.35 euros.
SHOP There are multiple outdoor markets every day in Amsterdam. Albert Cuypmarkt is probably the city’s most famous cheap shopping option, but Dappermarkt (Dapperstraat 279; 31-20-694-7495; http://www.dappermarkt.nl), on the eastern side of the city, is bigger and more varied. Five blocks long, the market attracts all varieties of working-class shoppers, including North Africans, Turks and Southeast Asians. It seems as if anything you could possibly need in Amsterdam is sold here: bike locks, plants, clothes, shoes, cheese, fresh herbs and vegetables. Fortify yourself with a smoked herring or mackerel sandwich (2.50 euros) and pick up a colorful wool scarf (5 euros). Cost of items: 7.50 euros.
PARTY Brown bars, cozy neighborhood watering holes, are an Amsterdam staple. The moniker comes from the color the walls take on after years of tobacco staining. Cafe de Pels (Huidenstraat 25; 31-20-622-9037), in the Nine Streets area, is a brown bar that hasn’t quite browned yet: it’s a pleasant spot that attracts a young, intellectual crowd who can get quite boisterous in both the after-work and late-night hours. Cost of a Leffe dubbel beer (3.70 euros) and small plates of cheese and pâté (3 euros each): about 10 euros.
SAVE Biking, a local way of life, is also a great — and cheap — way to see the city. Starbikes (De Ruyterkade 127; 31-20-620-3215; http://www.starbikesrental.com) is a convenient and reasonable outfitter. Located just east of the Centraal Station, Starbikes rents what Amsterdamers call “granny bikes” — two-wheelers in which you press the pedals backward to slow or stop. Generator lighting for nighttime riding and a sturdy lock are included, and the pleasant owners will happily provide suggested routes and tips. Cost for a full day, with a 7 p.m. drop-off: 7 euros.
TOTAL COST 131.85 euros, or about $178 at $1.35 to the euro.
On $1000 a Day
SLEEP Though it opened in 2007, the Grand Hotel Amrâth (Prins Hendrikkade 108; 31-20-552-0000; http://www.amrathamsterdam.com) has a serious history behind it. The hulking waterfront building that houses the hotel was built in the early 20th century and served for decades as the Shipping House, the home base for Amsterdam’s maritime activity. Indeed, though the interior has been renovated to show off a gorgeous Art Nouveau décor, one can easily imagine bureaucrats navigating the labyrinthine hallways. Deluxe rooms, many overlooking the city or the port, have high ceilings and two-tone wood walls that echo the hotel’s nautical theme. Cost: deluxe rooms start at 209 euros.
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