It's no secret that buzzy boutiques and beauteous bars are what normal looks like in Amsterdam these days. The design-focused, season transcending city is less than an hour's air time from BHX, with around six flights each day throughout the year. Get familiar with your itinerary in three, two, one...
Stay // Maison Rika by Ulrika Lundgren
In the middle of De 9 Straatjes (exactly where you want to be), Maison Rika is arranged across a three-floor townhouse, with a reception that doubles up as a local gallery and lifestyle store. Original beams, high ceilings and life-affirming views of the Herengracht canal make The Loft (pictured) the kind of hideaway that will demand you take breaks from that guide book you definitely weren't going to highlight. And tab.
Drink // Hiding in Plain Sight
Central, but tucked away enough to avoid the swarms, HPS is all about ambitious, exquisite flavour combinations. And pretty things — the cocktails are uniformly gold star gorgeous, and crafted with story like narratives. On a side street off Waterlooplein, avoid the rather touristy flea market of the same name for your pre-activity and instead get inside the striking premises of the Gassan Diamond Factory a block away.
Do // EYE
Eye is the the first major cultural institution to settle across the IJ harbour, and a rather compelling excuse for you to take the trip — by shuttle boat from the city centre no less. The angular 'house of film' conceals cinemas, exhibition spaces and a cafe-restaurant with views back across Amsterdam that really didn't exist until Eye's 2008 inception. Take in the permanent exhibition, luck out and join an event, or just linger over coffee as Centraal Station provides both traditional architecture and people watching from across the water.
Eat // De Foodhallen
The uniform at De Foodhallen is trainers rather than heels, not only because of the tracks that run across the converted tramshed. In Amsterdam's answer to the Jewellery Quarter (the Oud-West district), get a reassuringly high-end dose of indoor street food with 20+ traders including one dedicated entirely to cheese. With a long, high seating area and number of bars as the focal point, keep turning up until Le Big Fish make you soft shell crab bao.
Shop // Restored
Restored is a studio and shop with a nerdy kind of fervour for pure, simple designs that we can relate to. In addition to their usual jewellery and ceramics, regular hook-ups have led to Uncover MOD, a collection of textiles united by a grid structure, with gradients rendered in greys and indigos. Probably upgrade the luggage allowance and make room for the soft plaids of their luxuriant shawl made from mohair, merino wool and cotton. Totally timeless.