COOL SPECIAL: Do Dam in style

Posted on March 10, 2011 by



At EIC we believe in giving existing formulas a shot. Which is why four women went to a CITY together looking for SEX. Unsurprisingly, we had to replace the SEX with something else. Any guesses? It’s green, fluffy and causes schizophrenia. No not Orvil!


We realised pretty quickly that the intended SATC theme was a pipe-dream having tried and failed to squeeze as many snazzy outfits as possible into our pathetic carry-on holdalls. On Easyjet it’s best not to get bogged down by luggage. That’s not stylish at all. Be lithe, be short of socks and pants, be off that plane and into a coffeeshop in seconds.

EIC's Selby making a quick dash for Schipol's exit


In Dam, it’s easy to forget who you are and where you live. Sometimes that’s because you’d rather forget. Staying in a shabby hostel is fine on your gap year but when you’re four stylish women on a mission for sex,  green culture, the last thing you need is to have to padlock your bag to a bed that’s peppered in someone else’s scabs.

The first couple of nights we stayed at Hotel Sebastians in Kiezersgracht, a trendy part of town. Think ‘Primrose Hill’ and Louis Theroux’s dad.

Located right by a canal with a posh bakery just opposite, it screams class and the hotel barman is an absolute hoot! Not that we made a habit of talking to him all the time or anything.
The rooms were pleasingly modern with black bedsheets(!) which made us think of Queer As Folk – our favourite programme. Yeah, we thought we could happily live here for about three weeks.

With Anne Frank’s House just minutes away (buy tickets beforehand or don’t bother) and an army of top notch restaurants on its doorstep, you’d be a bit of a noob not to soak it all up now and withdraw more Euros later.

Just talking about the black sheets

The latter half we spent at a classic mansion called King’s Villa situated on a road similar to those you’d find in Kensington. Think TS Eliot and Patrick Moore. The room was oldy worldy, which we loved, and the architecture meant we could enjoy sloping ceilings and cosy alcoves. Nice. The absurdly satisfying coffee machine with its clickety-click compartments was also a bonus as SATC style conversations about boys and sex couldn’t have taken place without such amenities (for the record we don’t really like that show).

With the Van Gogh, Rembrandt and Rijksmuseum round the corner (though not immediately) and Vondel Park nextdoor, it wouldn’t be such a crime to wonder about this affluent area as a tortured scholar might. Add marijuana and you’re laughing. Confused but laughing.

We're moving in.


We were surprised to find very few people drinking coffee in these establishments. In fact we were often the only ones. Unlike Ronseal, Coffeeshops in Dam don’t do exactly what they say on the tin. No, coffeeshops in Dam (not to be mistaken for cafes) are predominantly for smoking ganja in. If you’re looking for a place to clear your head, don’t go in one of these. Alternatively, if you’re looking for somewhere to wipe your memory clean – do.

Some coffeeshops still thrive on the ‘brain busting marijuana’ stereotype, and you can identify these places by the people inside. They look maudlin and slightly upset as they chug on spliff after spliff in silence.


But others have consciously avoided that vibe and managed to come across as sophisticated and, dare we say it, arty. Because we got about a bit as city girls do (that’s 22.5 coffeeshops) we’ve listed below some of the best of the bunch if, like us, all you want is a place to lie down and die.

. Lost In Amsterdam – Turkish vibes, for epic relaxation, top marks on the hot chocolate, though a little militant with their service

. Abraxas – Comfy, airy, good menu

. Rookies – for perhaps an older crowd. Great array of board games, nice tables and seating, apple cake…

. Grasshopper – nice for a late night smoke, not just full of men! Give it a chance.

. Barney’s – Comfy, airy, good selection of smoke

. Dolphin – for those looking to spend a long time getting comfy, strip off and lay back … Under-the-sea walls

. Rusland – very nice vibes, good music, nice drinks, shame about the seating. Just not soft enough.

. Picasso – more of a locals joint, not the best seating but a nice pop-in place

We waited 10 minutes to be seated. This got us thinking about service in Amsterdam. Is there any?

Dam is relaxed and so are the people which is why as brits it was often infuriating to walk into a restaurant or coffeeshop, only to be ignored. This didn’t seem to alter much from place to place no matter how high the caliber. Try not to get too frustrated about this because there’s nothing you can do. Just carry on toking.


Flipping out to house music may seem like the last thing anyone would do on a smokers’ trip to Dam, but after a few cosmopolitans we were pleading with bar staff for a dance-floor. Then we realised we’d bought tickets to Trouw, a revamped industrial space located in the former newspaper building of the Dutch publication, and Amsterdam’s newest hotspot.

And that's just the loos

Sex And The... 'why are we wearing make-up here?'

Err, this is FUN?!

'Wanna see my Karate Kid impression?'

Places to eat:

We found it impossible to find places that served sandwiches and warm paninins. We’d be interested to know where those places are for next time as consequently we resorted to eating herring on the street, which is actually delicious! If you see a kiosk for herring and it’s open, go! We couldn’t get enough. We tried but he wouldn’t give us any more.


Don’t just talk about having pancakes for hours like we did. Go and try the best ones in the Dam at the Pancake Bakery in Prinsengracht. We recommend it for its mood lighting and because there was a massive free-for-all urn of syrup. Oh, and also because it looked a bit like Roseanne’s kitchen. Yes we mean Roseanne Barr.

dentist on speed-dial

De Belhamel (Brouwersgracht)

If we tried to recommend this restaurant any more, we’d pop. So we shan’t. Just go there if eating rare venison in rustic surroundings sounds appealing. Even though we all looked slightly older by the time the waiter took our order we forgave him instantly when he brought the bread.

Nice innit?

For more info on anything mentioned in this post, or if you’re about to head off to Dam and aren’t sure what the deal is with the coffeeshops, get in touch. Love Katie, Raki, Selby and May.

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