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LUXE CITY GUIDE: Amsterdam
 Luxe City Guides with their groovy colours, as flamboyant as flock wallpaper, and their fold-in-your-pocket format transformed the whole notion of 'guide'. Long before Apps these pocket-sized pull-outs gave us the essentials of a city without having to lug a weighty tome around in our Mulberry totes. The guides work on the notion that you don't need 100 recommendations - you just need the best.  TLTB can only agree,  it's our mantra too. The brains behind Luxe is stylish Man-About-the-Planet Grant Thatcher. From his personal notes to friends about Bangkok these little concertina'd gems were born. That was back in 2002, they've now sold over a million copies across 33 titles and have 20 mobile Apps. Schnauzer owner (great dogs those), a passionate pursuer of excellence and a man who knows how to wear a light-weight suit well (see picture right), Thatcher once said his ultimate travel destination would be 18th century London (shades of Midnight in Paris  time-travel there).  But while he is stuck in this century we're thrilled Grant Thatcher has consented to share his hot-list to Amsterdam, the newest city to be  luxe'd by the guides. 
Grant Thatcher, LUXE CITY GUIDES
Amsterdam has a 'reputation' . Is this a fair view of the city?
Harlots and hash - if you still think that's Amsterdam in a nutshell, it's time to step away from the old cliches. Yes, the red light district exists, but the picturesque city has so much more to offer, it's simply fabulous for shopping, has a heap of cultural treasures to discover and great nightlife.
When in Amsterdam you must try...
A jenever (Dutch juniper gin) bar. Of all the gin joints in all the towns... you have to end up at T Smalle (atmospheric, historical, waterfront) or Wynand Fockink (famed 300 year old distillery/tasting huis).
Amsterdam
Where do the locals go?
Stylish locals start their ideal Saturday at the Noordermarket for some vintage finds and organic goods, and then sit down for the best apple pie in town at Winkel, in the Noordermaket square.
What are the over-hyped touristy places to avoid?
The coffeeshops - tacky and full of British university students in a haze. Thankfully, tourists won't be allowed to access them by the end of the year as it will be illegal for foreigners to buy wacky backy.
 Most luxe to sleep?
The Dylan is a designer romp n' romancer boasting a perfect canal position, sophisty lounge, comely courtyard, Mich-starred Vinkeles and can-do concierge. The original rooms are sexier, the newly renovated ones are busier.
The Dylan
The Dylan Hotel, Loxura Style
The Dylan
The Dylan Hotel, Lounge
Best places to dine?
For casual bites, you can't beat Proef!, a special place where the chef surprises you with her playful, organic, in-season selections. For typical, old fashioned Dutch fare, try the grilled Frysian sugar bread sandwich with homemade duck liver terrine at Restaurant Greetje. For hanging with the city's cool cats, sub with Lion Noir.
Best places to drink?
It may be Heineken town, but you have plenty of chic watering holes to choose from as well. The lounge and patio at The College Bar is always a winner, especially its Sunday afternoon jazz sessions. Finch at the Noordermarket is a neighbourhood fave with locals spilling out into the square, and Door 74 is a cruisy speakeasy with the best cocktails in town.
Best places to shop?
Ground zero is The Nine Streets, nine sweet streets in the beautiful Canal Ring. There's a panapoly of retail heaven here; from local and international designer threads to contemporary baubles, cult cosmetics and more. Many of the stores are just a click away too on www.9straatjesonline.com, handy!
Best entertainment?
Canal surfing by boat, naturally. With their century old wooden saloon boats and private guide, our pick is Classic Boat Tours. Arrange a picnic and you're all set to navigate the waterways.
Amsterdam
Classic Boat Tours
Best culture?
Amsterdam is a museum lover's bonanza, so be sure to hit up all the classics like The Rijksmuseum, Stedelijk, Van Gogh Museum, Anne Frank's House - they are classics for a reason and must-sees. Do yourself a favour and get yourself a Museumkaart. For a mere 45 euros, it grants you entry into just about every museum in Amsterdam and throughout the Netherlands.
 
Van Gogh Museum
Van Gogh Museum
Amsterdam's best kept secret?
Festivals like Parade and concerts like the Prinsengracht concert are unique and much loved by locals. And great outdoor dining/drinking spots like Merkelbach , Nel Amstelveld , Het Bosch , and Aan de Poel are real discoveries.
 
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Grant Thatcher, Publisher of LUXE City Guides 20/10/11
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