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Business Travel Guide: Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Amsterdam's business roots go deep. It was the city that boasted the world’s first multinational corporation, the Dutch East India Company, and in recent years this ahead-of-the-curve business savvy is still evident. Founded as a fishing village, the city enjoys a flourishing economy bolstered by industries such as international trading, banking and financial services, and tourism. While The Hague ("Den Haag") is the Netherlands’ administrative capital, it is Amsterdam that is the country’s beating heart and de facto business center. Much of this is due to the city’s speedy embrace of high-tech facilities, easy telecommunications, bountiful conference options, extensive shopping and cultural amenities, and multilingual locals.

While Dutch is the official language of the country, most of the population in Amsterdam converses eloquently in English (sometimes also in German and French). The locals’ easy warmth is echoed by that of the gentle climate: From May to October the temperature seldom exceeds 80 degrees, and in winter months it rarely dips below freezing. Despite regular showers and cloudy days, Amsterdam is a city that conducts much of life outdoors, and its hundreds of canal-side cafés make dining alfresco practically a daily occurrence.

Facts to Know Before You Go

Currency: The local currency is the euro. Many businesses do not accept credit cards, although bank debit cards seem to be widely accepted. Banking hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. during the week, and ATMs are conveniently located throughout the city. While tipping is not necessary at restaurants, most people will throw in a few Euros at the end of a nice meal.

Transportation: For business travelers, entry usually begins at Schiphol—locals say "skipple"—Airport, a thoroughly user-friendly airport and shopping complex, from which one can easily catch a 20-minute train ride into Centraal Station, the city's primary transportation hub. As you exit the station, you walk directly into what was medieval Amsterdam. The city’s compact size makes it ideal for walking and cycling (bicycle rentals daily rates average € 8 with some multi-day rates as low as € 4. Centraal Station, Leidseplein and Dam Square are all major rental hubs, or ask at your hotel about the nearest shop). Rental cars can be somewhat of a liability in terms of parking, and taxis are plentiful and very easy to hail (riders generally tip ten percent of the cost of the fare).

Media: De Telegraaf is the largest selling newspaper in the city, but there are several English language local papers as well. The free Amsterdam Times, a weekly resource for events in and around the city, is available at kiosks. Dutch News Digest contains a daily summary of Dutch news and arts articles about exhibitions, movies and cultural events. The International Herald Tribune is also widely available, and Expatica is a helpful online English-language news and information source for expatriates living in The Netherlands.

Television programming in The Netherlands often includes English-language shows, seldom dubbed. The all-Europe cable and satellite channels such as MTV, CNN, BBC, and Eurosport also broadcast English-language programming.

Basic Information: The Netherlands is in Central European Time, Greenwich Mean Time plus one (Daylight Savings Time is observed from April to October). The international calling code is 31 for the Netherlands; unless the number starts with "0800" or "0900," remember to drop the first "0" when dialing within the country. Voltage is 220V AC, 50Hz and electrical plugs have rounded two-prong plugs.

Where to Stay

InterContinental Amstel Amsterdam
Professor Tulpplein 1
31 020 622 6060
amsterdam.intercontinental.com
InterContinental Amstel Amsterdam

Since its opening in 1867, this grand hotel has been touted as the most beautiful and luxurious hotel the Netherlands. Located in the heart of the financial district, the hotel features a “From Boardroom to Ballroom” concept that offers the perfect option for meetings, receptions, dinner and cocktails, or an intimate lunch for six. All meeting rooms are outfitted with state-of-the-art audio-visual and telecommunication equipment. Hard-working guests can stay fit in an exceptional health center featuring a wide range of fitness equipment, including an indoor swimming pool, a sauna, a Turkish bath, Jacuzzi, and massage services.

The Dylan
Keizersgracht 384
31 020 530 2010
www.dylanamsterdam.com
The Dylan

Formerly Blakes, The Dylan is perhaps Amsterdam’s most stylish and intimate hotel. The hotel ensures guests an environment of sheer escapism and luxury and offers sensational personal service. Located in an exceptional 17th-century landmark on one of the city’s famous canals, it boasts 40 rooms and suites individually designed with dramatic flair and featuring wireless Internet access. The onsite restaurant is famous among the cognoscenti for its modern Contemporary French cuisine. Four special meeting rooms may be booked, and business services are available upon request.

The College Hotel
Roelof Hartstraat 1
31 020 571 1511
www.thecollegehotel.com
The College Hotel

This aptly named hotel, set in a lovely 1895-era school building, is run by hotel management students (under the supervision of exacting professionals, of course). This small yet elegant luxury hotel, one of the select properties of The Stein Group, straddles the border between Amsterdam’s Museum Quarter and its chicest shopping streets. Welcoming the busy exec at the end of a demanding day are sleek, comfortable rooms that feature wireless Internet service and flat-screen TVs. The hotel also offers a variety of meeting facilities—a lounge for up to 200 attendees, three meeting salons, and a private dining room.

Hotel Artemis Amsterdam
John M. Keynesplein 2
31 020 624 4860
www.artemisamsterdam.com
Hotel Artemis Amsterdam

This contemporary and extremely business friendly hotel is located in the West Ring between the bustling city center and dynamic Schiphol Airport. Its close proximity to the city’s business center makes it a convenient meeting point ideal for business functions, conferences, recreational and cultural activities. Two hundred fifty-six rooms are arrayed across eight floors, with eleven onsite meeting rooms and a large underground parking lot. Its De Stijl Restaurant-Bar boasts a lovely a waterside terrace. Business guests will appreciate the choice of meeting facilities with varying multi-functional aspects.

Hotel Seven One Seven
Prinsengracht 717
31 020 427 0717
www.hotel717.nl
Picasso Suite at Hotel Seven One Seven

This hotel offers the discerning business traveler all the grandeur of a classical 19th-century guesthouse updated with an array of 21st-century conveniences. A unique boutique hotel along the canal, it features eight spacious rooms, each decorated in a distinct style with antiques and fresh Dutch flowers. Within a stone’s throw of the city’s museum district, the hotel also boasts a lovely conference room called The Library that accommodates up to six people. Breakfast is served in the privacy of guests’ rooms, in the ground-floor Strawinsky room and, in summer, also outside on the patios.

Where to Dine


La Rive
Professor Tulpplein 1
31 020 622 6060
www.amsterdam.intercontinental.com
14/20
La Rive

Dining in La Rive restaurant, inside the InterContinental Amstel Amsterdam, brings specialties from all over the world to le petit déjeuner à la carte. In a beautiful location overlooking the Amstel River, it’s also a must for dinner. Nothing comes cheap, but it’s where the titans of business choose to hobnob in a cherry-paneled dining room over a classical French menu. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Closed Sunday.


Restaurant-Café In de Waag
Nieuwmarkt 4
31 020 422 7772
www.indewaag.nl
12/20
Restaurant-Café In de Waag

In the middle of the Nieuwmarkt stands the Weigh House or “Waag.” Originally built in 1488, this monumental and historic structure now houses Restaurant-Café In de Waag, traditional, atmospheric and an ideal place in the heart of Amsterdam for a unique lunch, reception, meeting or dinner—especially when it’s lit by the flicker of 300 candles. The menu, short and fairly priced, prominently features organic produce and an array of traditional Dutch treats such as bitterballen, or little meatballs, served with a bracing mustard sauce. Private rooms that include the use of a flip-over and projection screen are available. Open daily for lunch and dinner.


The Dylan Restaurant
Keizersgracht 384
31 020 530 2010
www.dylanamsterdam.com
15/20
The Dylan Restaurant

The intimate Dylan Restaurant is well known as a gourmet hot spot. It blends both classic and contemporary East/West cuisines, ably proffering dishes of French and exotic North African flavors in architectural presentations, at lunch, dinner and afternoon tea as well. Signature dishes include roast Anjou pigeon with five spices; mousse of bitter caribe chocolate; and coffee couscous with marinated mango and mascarpone sorbet. The adjacent lounge is the height of chic for an after-dinner drink and a great place to loosen your tie after a busy day.


Tempo Doeloe
Utrechtstestraat 75
31 020 625 6718
www.tempodoeloerestaurant.nl
13/20

Because of The Netherlands’ Dutch colonial ties, Indonesian food in Amsterdam is extremely popular. The height of the cuisine can be seen here among the Indonesian rice table, or rijsttafel, restaurants. Tempo Doeloe fits perfectly on a street amidst its many Asian neighbors. If you want to impress your clients with your insider knowledge, ring the bell and wait to be admitted. Inside, try your fork at spicy and authentic Indonesian cuisine that includes rijsttafelen—up to 25 little dishes of curries, pickles and veggies to ladle over fragrant white rice. Reservations strongly suggested, no lunch.


De Kas
Kamerlingh Onneslaan 3
31 020 462 4562
www.restaurantdekas.nl
15/20
De Kas

Five years after opening, De Kas is still one of the most coveted reservations around. The concept is simple but exacting: Raise your own boutique produce in an attached greenhouse, buy local meats from the finest purveyors, then put it all together in a five-course prix-fixe, you-get-what-we’re-serving menu in a stunning Piet Boon-designed dining room. Always changing, the menu may offer such favorites as homemade bread paired with an intense basil-pumped olive oil, tiny lobsters dabbed with a trio of vibrant sauces, or a veal chop accompanied by an array of just-picked baby vegetables. End your meal—and seal the deal—over an elegant cheese plate and tiny Dutch cookies, chocolates and fruit gelées.


Balthazar’s Keuken
Elandsgracht 108
31 020 420 2114
13/20

Set in a converted blacksmith’s workshop, Balthazar’s Keuken gets high marks from visitors for its weekly changing three-course dinner of Dutch/French cuisine—you get what you get, no choices, for a reasonable € 24,50 (although owners Karin Gaasterland and Alain Parry gladly accommodate the whim of picky young eaters). Limited seating on the pavement out front is good for people watching, but being inside the sweet little dining room really does feel like you’re eating in someone’s kitchen (that’s what Keuken means)—where homesick business travelers can cultivate that down-home feel.

Off the Clock

Anne Frank House
Prinsengracht 267
31 020 556 7105
www.annefrank.org

Any additional discretionary time you have should be devoted here, at the city’s top attraction. Recent years have made the small attic museum more interactive, more technology-oriented, but the story of the Jewish Dutch girl who went into hiding in the attic of her father’s jam factory with her parents, her sister and four other people, is still every bit as compelling. As Anne wrote in her faithful diary, “After May 1940, the good times were few and far between: first there was the war, then the capitulation and then the arrival of the Germans, which is when the trouble started for the Jews.” But it’s the two years Anna spent in these cramped quarters, and her hundreds of pages of writing—part regular kid, part serious and reflective writer—that command a certain level of awe.

Canal Company
Weteringschans 26-1hg
31 020 626 5574
www.canal.nl/en

Canal Company

If your leisure time is limited, traveling the canals is a quick way to glide past the city’s nearly 7,000 monuments dating from the 15th to 19th centuries along the four main canals: Prinsengracht (Princes' Canal), Herengracht (Gentlemen's Canal), Keizersgracht (Emperor's Canal) and Singel. The canal boast-bus travels along three regular routes and makes fourteen stops—with a Day Pass you can hop off and hop back on all day long. You can also see the city at night with a choice of a unique dining or music cruise.

Heineken Experience
Stadhouderskade 78
31 020 523 9666
www.heinekenexperience.com

Heineken Experience

If you've had your fill of museums, (although the Hash Marijuana Hemp Museum and the Amsterdam Sex Museum are quite intriguing), take some time out for the quenching Heineken Experience (cost is ten euro). The self-guided tour winds through the original 1867 brewery and a newer 1930 building, both of which were a working brewery until 1988. A short video of the bottling process, a recreated street scene from the late 19th century, and a walk past the gleaming copper brewing tanks is a crash course in brewing history. Along the way, enjoy three 10-ounce Heinekens at two "rest stops;" at the tour's end you receive a complimentary Heiny gift glass to take home.

Rijksmuseum
Stadhouderskade 42
31 020 674 7000
www.rijksmuseum.nl

Interior: The Later Rembrandt (photo Jeroen Swolfs)

The Rijksmuseum will finish a massive remodel by 2008, but most of its super-famous paintings continue to be on display—in fact, many of these masterpieces were saved during WWII when they were cached in the limestone caves in Maastricht and other Dutch cities. The museum showcases Dutch paintings from the 15th to 19th centuries, with many works by Rembrandt, Van Eyck, and Vermeer.

Van Gogh Museum
Paulus Potterstraat 7
31 020 570 5200
www.vangoghmuseum.nl

Van Gogh Museum

This museum houses the world’s largest collection of Van Gogh works. Built in 1973 by architect Gerrit Rietveld, the museum features a new wing designed by Kisho Kurokawa that was added in 1999. The collection consists of hundreds of Van Gogh's paintings, drawings and letters to Theo, as well as the works of his contemporaries, Toulouse-Lautrec, Gaugin, Monet, Bernard and Monticelli. Among the many noteworthy paintings are “The Bedroom in Arles” (1888) and “Vase with Sunflowers” (1889).


Going to the Netherlands? Check our Guide.

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