In our latest edition of LUXE Insider, take a trip to Amsterdam, The Netherlands, where freelance writer and illustrator Kaira van Wijk lets us in on her top five city hangouts of the mo. Born in Gothenburg, Sweden and raised in Amsterdam, Kaira is constantly on the lookout for new places to explore, having written for the likes of Vogue, Het Parool, FD, Persoonlijk, Glamour and Holland Herald.
Follow along as she takes us through her top five fave indie boutique shops, eateries and multimedia museums in Amsterdam:
Founded by creative director Carmen, Atiyah de Baets, and her chef-husband, Joris Ter Meulens Wijtink, Carmen is a real local gem. Over the course of the pandemic, they’ve tastefully transformed this five-floor-monumental canal building into a stunning guesthouse, kitchen, artist-in-residence gallery and shop.
Carmen sells cult brands such as Maryam Nassir Zadeh‘s special vintage pieces and local labels including hand-braided bags by designer Pien Barendregt, perfect basics by Flore Flore and seductive silk pieces by Home of Hai. In their carefully curated boutique home, they also facilitate pop-ups for Amsterdam-based labels such as Routinely (I love their serums!). All in all, Carmen gives you a taste of Amsterdam’s novel creative scene.
Having lived in the East for years, it’s by far my favourite neighbourhood. Around the corner from my apartment, tucked behind the Czaar Peterstraat (which is having a moment with cute vintage shops and such) is the lively restaurant, VRR. Set in a twentieth-century industrial building, it’s a reminder of the maritime history in this area.
During the day, it’s a bakery with the best sourdough breads and by night, it’s a restaurant serving up imaginative, veggie-forward dishes. Meat features on the menu, too, as long as it’s sourced from independent farmers and producers nearby.
Time & Style
From the outside, you’d never suspect that this red brick building would be a gateway to the chicest Japanese design store imaginable. The founders of Time & Style opened their first shop in Tokyo in 1992, and have since expanded all over Japan. This store in Amsterdam is their only location abroad, which is quite remarkable.
The multiple floors are filled with beautifully crafted design pieces from (mostly) Japanese makers or European designers with both traditional and contemporary Japanese design, from elegant ceramic cups to sensually-shaped armchairs. Don’t miss the roof garden on the top floor for panoramic views over the city. And, since you’re already there, pop around the corner for sustainable Dutch design label Studio Henk‘s new and massive flagship store on the Rozengracht.
Go where most tourists have never gone by visiting Amsterdam’s Nieuw-West. I used to come here to visit my grandmother (when she was still alive) and the neighbourhood has really developed with more specialty coffee and designer stores. One of the places spearheading this change is Oficina Oficina, a canteen and studio that blends food, culture and design. Their dishes are well thought-out, seasonal and usually quite rich – perfect for brunch!
One of its founders, Naiara Sabandar, takes inspiration from her Japanese and Basque roots, while I am also a sucker for their extensive tea selection (especially the roasted ones). Don’t miss the mouth-watering focaccia filled with tomato sobrasada and grilled eggplant on a warm, sunny day.
Nxt is one of my favourite new museums, which is located in the North of Amsterdam. It’s the first of its kind in The Netherlands that’s solely dedicated to new media art – where art and technology collide. Whenever I step foot through their front door, it’s like entering a whole other universe where I’m in a whirlwind of sound, light and movement. This all-encompassing experience always sparks my imagination. Apart from other great museums like Stedelijk (which is finally reopening again), I’d also definitely recommend visiting contemporary art center, Het HEM.
LUXE-insider Kaira van Wijk is an Amsterdam-based writer, journalist and editor who’s written for the likes of Vogue, ELLE, Financial Times, WePresent and more. Having lived in New York and Singapore before returning to her hometown of Amsterdam, she’s a self-proclaimed foodie who loves contemporary design and modern art, and doesn’t mind biking an extra 20 minutes to try out an under-the-radar yet amazing eatery. Follow her on Instagram @kairavanwijk!
Want more Amsterdam tips? Pick up a copy of the LUXE Amsterdam guide: