Family holidays are all very well, but – secretly – all parents long to take a trip away without the kids. So head for a boutique break in Amsterdam.
Family holidays are all very well, but – secretly – all parents long to take a trip away without the kids, don't they? So my wife Kim and I headed for a boutique break in Amsterdam.
Our short trip was the first time my wife and I have been abroad without our two young daughters. On the plane I asked Kim what she most wanted to do while there, and she said: ‘I want to spend some time making my mind up what I want to do and then I want to change my mind.’
We narrowed our evening's entertainment down to two restaurants within easy walking distance of our accommodation, Canal House on Keizersgracht.
While we decided, we headed to a bar called Arendsnest. There were more than 30 brews on tap – all of them served in a different glass. The vast variation was fascinating, and if I had walked in with friends rather than my partner, I doubt we would have gone further that evening.
We settled on Max, where we tried scallops in a coconut sauce and warm, spicy pumpkin salad: and the waiters gave us little tasters to help us make the decision between all the delicious items on the menu.
Amsterdam is a great city not to bring your children to - there's not even delineation between the domains of the car, the bicycle and the pedestrian where a fall into the water is only a carefree skip away.
We spent a while in the Nine Streets district, the grid of canals and byways south of Raadhuisstraat.
The many cafés are filled with young creatives sipping coffee and the shops sell witty graphic posters and tempting industrial lampshades. Instead we came back with a couple of Delftware fridge magnets for our girls. They were pleased – ‘But next time you go to Amsterdam,’ they said, ‘we’re coming, too.’
We stayed at Canal House on Keizersgracht, in the heart of the hip and historic canal belt. And although it is happy to cater for children, one of the appealing things about it is that it is so thoroughly grown-up. The precipitous staircases, the spotless décor, the serene clientele, the fragile objets d’art… all of this, if you were with an energetic six-year-old, might be a source of stress.
How to get there: British Airways flies from London Gatwick, Heathrow and City Airport to Amsterdam from £75 return.
The hotel: Canal House, has doubles from £200, including breakfast.