Luxury Hotels

AMSTERDAM – 2

Unlike tulip-mania, which lasts roughly a month, Amsterdam’s canal cruising goes on year-round, especially when the weather is agreeable. Emmy Stoel, passionate GM of Sofitel Legend The Grand Amsterdam, had arranged a cocktail cruise as welcome to this amazing city. A concierge escorted the lucky cruisers – two ladies escorted by one husband (see above) – across Oudezijds Voorburgwal, where the boat and its skilled captain-guide awaited.

It was an absolutely fascinating hour, past the zoo and a complete guide to the wide variety of houseboat styles (up to three floors, Architectural Digest or near trash-heap). Houseboat owners get all utilities, pay all taxes and for those who might similarly want to live on the water, the opportunities are considerably limited. Marry a water resident or wait until one dies.

As well as passing static boats, SS Sofitel had to navigate a flotilla of moving boats, all sizes, all shapes and varieties of occupants, many extremely happy this hot and sunny Epiphany Saturday. Fortunately it is all one way. SS Sofitel served bubby and oysters a-plenty.

After disembarking it was seafood in the hotel’s Bridges (being Sofitel, of course, all food was really tasty, and served with passion). Talking with hotel chef Raoul Meuwese, local white asparagus was essential, apparently, so a delightful mélange of potato with crème fraiche, chives, and salty vegetables was followed by pan-roasted halibut with wild garlic, morels and turnip. And white asparagus, and Volnay 2017 Dme Y. Clerget.

Bridges’ breakfast miraculously managed to satisfy Americans’ morning buffet needs with those of locals. This was a guide to Dutch cheeses and breads. And then Girlahead went local, at least to take a recce of bicycles in the immediate vicinity. See below.