The Winston is right in the heart of the city - a stone’s throw from the Royal Palace, between Dam Square and the Red Light District. We’re also only a few minutes on foot from the central train station, so getting to us and then onto all the sights to be seen, couldn’t be easier!
The City and Its History
Amsterdam is a city like no other. Where else can you find guided tours of a red light district, Rembrandt’s house, the Van Gogh Museum, Anne Frank’s house, Tulips, coffee shops and more? Old blends into new, radical art installations hang off seventeenth century eaves, BMW’s give way to bicycles and triple strength, monk brewed beer is served up in minimalist cafés.
The city of Amsterdam owes its name to the Dam built on the river Amstel in the thirteenth century. The street where you find the hotel - Warmoestraat - is named after the Warmoestuinen, a vegetable garden and trading centre that used to be based in the area. It’s Amsterdam’s oldest street and the city’s most central location. In its seventeenth century heyday, Warmoestraat boasted over two hundred assorted signs, advertising pretty much everything. In fact if you look closely you can still see the legacy of yesterday’s marketing age - carved into the facades of the gables!
What to See and Do
The I Amsterdam Card: There are a lot of great tourism deals out there but one of the best that we’ve come across is the I Amsterdam Card. With one of these you get free entry to dozens of the best tourist attractions and better yet, you also get a transport pass. This entitles you to free transport on all trams, buses and metros, in and around the city - definitely useful when you don’t fancy the 45 minute walk to the Van Gogh Museum. Find all the details at amsterdamtourist.nl
Canal Cruises: Amsterdam isn’t the biggest city in the world but just like anywhere else, it’s not hard to get lost. A great way to avoid this is to take advantage of one of the free canal cruises that come with the I Amsterdam Cards. You can choose between the Holland International and the Rederij Noord-Zuid cruises. With the first choice you get a glimpse of the harbour, the stunning Nemo Science Centre, a tour in five different languages and a whole host of tourist attractions. These cruise options will definitely help you to make sense of the 165 canals, 1281 bridges, 8 wooden drawbridges, 2500 canal boats and 120 water bikes that make this city so fantastic.
Anne Frank’s House: Once you’ve figured out the city’s layout, there’s no excuse not to go to the Prinsengracht Canal where you will find Anne Frankhuis. This is a very moving memorial to Anne Frank, her family and the 100,000 Dutch Jews who died during World War Two. The rooms have been left as they were sixty years ago and the poignant memories are enhanced by video clips of the family, and the holocaust.
The Pancake Bakery: A five minute walk up the Prinsengracht Canal from Anne Frank’s House will take you to the intensely delicious Pancake Bakery. In the intimate surrounds of this basement restaurant you can choose from a tantalising, taste bud teasing choice of more than 100 sweet and savoury pancakes.
Red Light Religion: It might be fun to see what’s occurring in the vice ridden windows that line Oudezijds Voorburgwal, but if you fancy a break from all this then seek refuge in De Oude Kerk. This church is the oldest monument in the city and the interior is a vast expanse of calm, contemporary art and Christ. This beautiful building is almost next door to The Winston and it’s a great base to launch yourself into the other tourist attractions that litter the area.
Rembrandt: The funny thing about people during the time of Rembrandt is that they were a lot shorter than we are today. Much shorter! You can see the difference for yourself as you take a turn around the former home of this great artist. The bed boxes are incredibly tiny and when you get past this startling realisation, there are a few fantastic paintings to look at too. The cone collection is particularly impressive.
The Attic Church: A five minute walk from the hotel takes you to the Ons’ Lieve Heer op Solder on Oudezijds Voorburgwal. This catholic attic church will take your breath away because it manages to cram everything you would normally find in a cathedral, into the attics of three terraced houses. There are many clever, space saving tips to be observed so even if you’re not of the religious persuasion, it’s worth a look just in case you ever need to decorate a really small house! Ikea would be proud.
The Van Gogh Museum: Any trip to Amsterdam wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the fantastical Van Gogh Museum. Inside you will find the world’s largest collection of works by Mr Van Gogh and the works of the many artists who were inspired by him. There are at least 200 paintings, 500 drawings and 700 letters on display here. Also if you head downstairs you can explore the touring collections of a more modern variety.
The Heineken Experience: Take the Bottle Ride and find out what it’s like to be a bottle of beer as you cruise through the various stages of production. When you’re done you can take the beer test and discover if you really can tell your hops from your barley. This is an interactive experience with the worlds' most exported lager. Tasty.
De Hortus: The Botanical Gardens have long been considered to be the pride and joy of Amsterdam. The gardens are nearly 4000 years old and were once herb gardens for the city’s doctors. Now it has become a museum of plants from around the world. Even if you’re not botanical friendly, a trip here still makes for a rather beautiful and relaxing experience.