Man About Town's Guide To Amsterdam


Weekend trips are becoming increasingly popular, providing the perfect escape from hectic work schedules without using too many of those precious holiday days.  City breaks are always a great way to explore and experience the culture, almost ‘dipping one’s toe’ in without having to fully commit to a longer trip.

Amsterdam is a fantastic City for a Weekend break, just a short 1 hour (or less..!) flight from London, which is quicker than most of our commutes!  As I found on our return, with only a 1 hour time difference, you often land back in the UK before you took off… 

It’s not a big City, with a calmness unlike any capital I have experienced.  You could put this down to the legality of a well known substance (!!), but I would say its more a result of the Dutch culture, very laid-back and relaxed.  The picturesque canals, narrow roads and abundance of bikes adds to the serenity and you can easily spend half a day just exploring the various cobbled side-streets.

Where to Stay:

Hotel Pulitzer:

We were very fortunate to be invited to the grand re-opening of the Hotel Pulitzer, a historic hotel located in the heart of the vibrant Nine Streets shopping district.  The Hotel has been newly renovated and consists of 25 connected ‘Golden Age’ canal houses, the ‘Tardis’ of hotels with maze like corridors that open up to impressive heigh ceiling rooms and stunning architecture.

The interiors were a personal highlight, with a modern yet old-World feel about the place.  The redesign project was led by Jacu Strauss, a protege of the well renowned Tom Dixon, and master of the interiors at the Mondrian in London.


Jacu kindly showed us around his masterpiece and gave an insight into the level of thought and detail that had gone into the redesign - a truly huge project. From each piece of furniture to the raw materials used, there was a story to be told.  Impressively every decision was made with the building's heritage and previous existence in mind and although very new on the surface, there was a definite feel that this was an homage to older times.


The bedrooms are each unique in their own way, all modern with the ultimate in comfy beds and small creative touches - ours had a traditional Dutch bike hanging from the ceiling amongst the exposed beams!  The bathrooms are a real stand out, from the marble floors and surfaces to the rain shower, something I wish we had at home!

Whilst every bedroom is special, the suites at the Hotel Pulitzer are quite something.  Each has been meticulously designed and is an experience in itself.  From the Book Collector’s suite with its archway made up of famous old novels, to the Antique Collectors suite with its age old rugs and antique furniture; all of the suites have a certain level of charm in their own unique way. 


The ‘piece de resistance’ however has to be the Pulitzer Suite.  Immediately my first thoughts were it has to be one of the most photogenic rooms I’ve ever come across, somewhat feminine with it's pink theme and marble throughout, none the less stunning in every way.  The huge gable style windows look out onto the canals and bring in the perfect amount of natural light - a bloggers dream when it comes to flat-lays! Another highlight of this room is the traditional free-standing Victorian copper bath, perfect for relaxing after a day of exploring the City.



Aside from the stunning interiors the Hotel Pulitzer is also incredibly well located.  The lively Nine Streets are on the doorstep, perfect for shopping and exploring the various boutiques and the ‘must see’ Anne Frank’s House and Van Gogh Museum are also within a 10 minute walk.  

Where to Brunch:

Coffee & Coconuts:

Originally a recommendation from a friend who used to live in Amsterdam, Coffee & Coconuts are masters of brunch.  It’s set in an old 1920’s converted cinema with a warm, lively atmosphere, not dissimilar to an East London coffee shop.  The high ceilings, farmhouse style tables and hanging wall plants all make for a stand out interior and the food matches this, with a menu full of creative breakfasts/brunches.

Bakers & Roasters:

We stumbled across this breakfast spot whilst exploring the City and its nestled just off the main streets, a definite hidden gem.  Bakers & Roasters is a New Zealand style cafe, located within the De Pijp neighbourhood.  A more rustic vibe, they are well-know in Amsterdam amongst coffee lovers, with many suggesting their coffee to be the best in the City.  Even if coffee isn't your tipple its well worth a visit with some scrumptious breakfasts on offer.

Where to Lunch:

Foodhallen:


Simply put, Foodhallen is a better version of Brixton village, based in an old Tram shed.  The building itself is vast, high ceilings, lots of glass and a very warehouse vibe, filled with at least 40 stalls all serving up the finest in street food cuisine.  The food range is quite incredible with everything from gourmet burgers, Vietnamese to Peruvian style tapas and cheese fondu!  


Foodhallen is a great place for a relaxed lunch and I would recommend sharing a few plates from a couple of your favourite looking stalls, much more sociable and the perfect way to explore new flavours.


Where to Dine:

Jansz at the Hotel Pulitzer:

Jansz is the main restaurant at the Hotel Pulitzer and I could not recommend it highly enough.  With a focus on modern classics with a Dutch influence,  food is freshly prepared and executed to a very high standard.  When it comes to the menu it's a tough decision with so many delicious dishes on offer, I would recommend flipping a coin - a euro naturally!  For a starter you can't go far wrong with the Diver Scallops, fresh and melt in the mouth, served in a pea puree.


For the main event I would recommend either the Reypenaer Burger or the Lobster Risotto, both absolute triumphs and oh-so photogenic.



To finish things off there are so many options; we stumped for sharing a couple of desserts and both were perfection.  I'm a big cheesecake fan and the NY Cheesecake with pistachio sorbet was delicious, one of the best cheesecakes I've had in a long time.  The Chocolate Cake with Salted Caramel Sauce and Almond Crumble was also incredibly moorish.

 

Top Things to Do:





Where are your favourite places to visit for short breaks?

C.

5 Scents for Autumn


With the days becoming shorter and the leaves starting to fall, I thought it would be a good time to review a few fragrances to get you through those Autumn months.

Autumn is probably my favourite season for fashion, time to dust off that knitwear and those lightweight jumpers and every great outfit needs a strong scent to compliment.

Here are my five top picks:

1. The Every Day - Clean Reserve, Smoked Vetiver

Clean Reserve is a brand I’ve only recently discovered and I’m already a big fan.  From their ‘clean’ cut bottle design to the powerful aroma, its hard not to love.  This particular scent is perfect for every day, with a smoky sweetness thats fresh and inviting.

2. Post Shave freshness - Murdock London, Avalon

Murdock London are well-known for their grooming expertise with a number of fantastic shaving products on the market.  This is the first Cologne of theirs I have tried and it's fast becoming a favourite.  Its designed to be great post-shave, like traditional colognes it provides essentials oils to nourish the skin and alcohol to cleanse.  The smell is zesty with a Sicilian freshness, perfect for an early morning wake-up.


3. Out on the town - Diesel, Bad

Diesel just keep coming out with great scents and Bad is no exception.  The bottle design is innovative as I’ve come to expect with a grainy black leather texture inspired by the classic leather biker jacket.  The scent is focused around woodiness with a hint of tobacco, a great smell for a night out with friends.


4.  Those dressed up occasions - Tom Ford Private Blend, Vert Boheme

Tom Ford are an all time favourite of mine and their exclusive Private Blend collection is perfect if you are looking to stand out from the crowd.  Vert Boheme is one of four new fragrances that make up the recently launched ‘Les Extraits Verts collection’ focused on distinctive fresh green notes.  This fragrance is initially floral with magnolia and violet extracts, set against woody oakmoss and vertiver.  It's a scent that compliments any shirt wearing affair and in particular those dressed up occasions - autumnal Weddings and dinner engagements.


5. One for the gym bag - Abercrombie & Fitch, First Instinct

A&F Fierce was a favourite as a teen and a scent that brings back some great memories.  First Instinct has some similar tones but is definitely more ‘mature’.  The bottle design is sleek and it may sound strange saying but a perfect shape to chuck in the gym bag for that post-workout spray.  The fragrance is a fresh scent with notes of gin and tonic along with more subtle suede musk.  Great for a spritz after a tough gym session before heading back to the office or out for dinner.



A quick tip for when applying fragrances is to be sure to let the molecules disperse.  Now I’m not going all 'sciencey' on you, but its a common mistake when using fragrances to spray close to the body.  You should always spray a good few inches away from the chosen area to allow the molecules to disperse and to stop them breaking down.  This will avoid any alcohol-like smells and ultimately make the most of the scent and all its notes.  

To make the most of your fragrances and to ensure they last the day, focus on your body's pulse points when spraying - the wrists, neck area and inside of the elbows.


[Note - be sure to avoid rubbing your wrists together, this can create friction and can increase the interaction between the perfume and the skin’s natural oils, altering the overall scent]

What are your favourite fragrances for the coming Autumn season?

C.

Man About Town's Guide To The Cotswolds

 A couple of weeks ago Josie and I decided to take a short break, escape the smoke of the city and retreat to the Cotswolds.

Living in London is great for so many reasons, but one thing I have started to notice is the impact the polluted air can have on your wellbeing and health.  Air quality is a hot topic at the moment with London’s air quality currently rated as the worst in Europe!

It’s important we all take time out from our hectic lives to recharge, and where better than the stunning Cotswolds, in the south central part of England, under 2 hours drive from the centre of London.

A great benefit of holidaying within the UK is that we are able to bring Dexter with us, and he was certainly excited for this road trip.

We were fortunate to be provided with a BMW 4 Series convertible for a few days and it made for an really enjoyable journey out of town.  It was my first time driving a convertible and pardon the pun but I have been ‘converted’! With the sun shining we spent the whole journey roof down enjoying the views and beautiful scenery as we approached Oxfordshire.

Where to Stay:

The Slaughters Country Inn:

This beautiful country inn is located in Lower Slaughter and is perfect for a countryside getaway.  Nestled on the banks of the River Eye, the 17th Century building has that typically country feel, yet the interiors are contemporary with a modern twist.


We stayed in one of their Cottages which was incredibly spacious and cosy, with the added bonus that dogs are welcome.


Dexter certainly made himself at home..!  The pub restaurant also allows dogs and so all in all, the Inn is a dog-owners dream.


The Inn's location is great if you are keen on exploring the local countryside, with plenty of walking paths to discover and the village of Lower Slaughter is full of tiny shops, well-worth a visit.

You can find out more about the hotel here.

Slaughters Manor House:

The Slaughters Manor House is located just across the road from the Country Inn and is also part of the Brownsword partnership.  The 17th Century manor house has been recently refurbished and similarly to the Country Inn, follows the contemporary interpretation of countryside life with modern interiors and a bright atmosphere.


We stayed in one of their Garden Suites in the old Coach House where dogs are allowed and the rooms are stunning.  A huge kingsize bed and a small connecting private garden, complete with hot tub!

There was a real focus on the finer interior details, giving the hotel that rural feel whilst maintaining the overall contemporary style.


The restaurant was undoubtedly the highlight for me, with an array of countryside inspired dishes on offer, we decided on the eight-course taster menu - see below.

To discover more about this beautiful country hotel check out their website here.

Where To Eat:

For an evening meal - Slaughters Manor House:

The restaurant at the Slaughters Manor House is one of the most acclaimed in the Cotswolds celebrating regional and seasonal produce.  The room itself was previously the swimming house to the old manor and as a result has beautiful high ceilings and an abundance of natural light.

The menu offers an array of options from a Table D'Hote dinner menu, to their well-renowned eight course taster menu.  We went for the taster menu and were not disappointed, with the Cornish Lobster Salad a definite highlight, fresh and stunning flavours.


Another favourite was the venison loin, a truly country-inspired dish served with shallots, beetroot and blackberries.


All eight courses were stunning and a true homage to the Cotswolds and the wild produce available.  If you plan on visiting the Cotswolds and Slaughter in particular, I would say this is the ideal evening meal to experience true British cuisine to tantalise the taste buds.  The current eight-course tasting menu can be viewed here.

A Country Lunch - The Wild Rabbit:

The Wild Rabbit is located in Kingham, a small village around 20 minutes drive from Lower Slaughter.  It's a traditional British gastro pub but with a real focus on locally sourced and seasonal food.  

There are a number of menus on offer, we went for the bar menu which included a number of traditional British bar snacks.  

Its a hard choice but my favourite had to be the pigs cheek with shredded apple and crackling, rich and delicious.


Another light and tasty dish was the Sole Goujons with curry mayonnaise and baby capers, perfect for a light lunch.


The Glazed Short Rib with button mushrooms and straw potatoes was to die for and in hindsight not a dish you should agree on sharing!


I'll definitely be planning a trip back to the Wild Rabbit to try their more substantial a la carte menu and they also have rooms available on site that look particularly inviting, you can find out more about the Wild Rabbit here.

A Light and Fresh Lunch - Daylesford Farm

I've been wanting to visit Daylesford Farm for quite a while having heard such great things about their food and overall ethos.  Daylesford are focused on growing, producing and cooking seasonal organic produce, with a focus on sustainability and responsible farming.  


The lunch menu is extensive with lots of incredibly tasty and healthy options.  Having been fairly indulgent over the previous days I decided to make the most of the healthy food on offer and went for an organic cold pressed juice and a delicious raw super greens salad with organic salmon.  Everything felt fresh and was so colourful, always a good sign when it comes to fresh produce.


After lunch we went for a tour of the farm and I was amazed at the scale of it all.  Everything from strawberries to tomatoes were being grown in addition to their own dairy farm and Gloucester Old Spot pigs.


In addition to the cafe and restaurant there is also a farm shop on site along with the Bamford boutique.  Daylesford is a concept devised by Lady Carole Bamford who also famously created the Bamford organic skincare brand, an all time favourite of ours.  

To learn more about Daylesford and the farm, check out their website here.

After our three days in the leafy Cotswolds we returned feeling refreshed and revitalised.  It's amazing how a break away from the hectic atmosphere of London can relax the mind and help bring a fresh perspective.  Josie and I will definitely be planning plenty more Weekend retreats and an Autumnal return to the Cotswolds could be on the cards!

Have you ever visited the Cotswolds? 

Where are your favourite places to escape to from the City?

C.






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