Amsterdam recommendations

By Vicki Stowell
This item appears on page 12 of the April 2013 issue.

In Amsterdam, 12 of us girlfriends stayed at Hotel Fita (Jan Luykenstraat 37, 1071 CL Amsterdam, Netherlands; phone +31 [0] 20 679 09 76, fax 664 39 69), Dec. 28-31, 2012.

This delightful, 15-room hotel is in an excellent location near the museums and a tram stop. The owner, Roel, and his staff made us feel so welcomed and were helpful with suggestions and maps.

Our twin-bedded rooms of “Type A” (€169, or near $224, per night) and Type B (€159, or $208) were roomy and light and so clean. The included breakfast was delicious and fresh, with cold as well as hot items. The pancakes were wonderful. They also had an honor bar with bottled water, juice, wine and beer.

About a month before our trip, we contacted Peter Reydon, owner of Taxi Max Car (mobile phone +31 [0] 653 652 859), whom the hotel had told us about. I highly recommend him. The cost to transport the 12 of us in three vehicles from the airport to the hotel was €127 ($166) plus tip.

Peter had given me instructions as to where to meet him, but he ended up just meeting us as we came out of Customs. So nice of him!

There is a shuttle bus (Connex­xion Schiphol Hotel Shuttle) that departs Schiphol Airport frequently and goes to many hotels, but some online reviews and travelers we later met did not recommend it. It costs €15.50 per person and, with all the stops, is slow. If there are two or more persons in your group, the best way to go into town from the airport is probably by taxi (such as Peter’s).

In Amsterdam, the tram is a great way to get around. You can purchase a 24-hour ticket on boarding for €2.70. Just make sure you validate it each time you get on and off. And check the markings on the tram doors; “entry” doors on the outside are marked “no exit” on the inside.

In Hotel Fita, for a fee of $1, we were able to purchase tickets to the Rijksmuseum that allowed us to go directly into the museum, avoiding any queue.

I would suggest that travelers planning on visiting the Anne Frank House purchase tickets online through the museum’s website. Entry cost €9.50 ($12) per person and was well worth it. And go first thing in the morning (9:00), as you would not want to wait in a long line to get in and go through the rooms.

The House of Bols, Cocktail & Genever Experience (Paulus Petterstraat 14, 1071 CZ, Amsterdam; phone +31 [0] 20 5708575) was fun. It’s located a block from Hotel Fita and across the street from the Van Gogh Museum.

There, one learns the secrets of Lucas Bols, creator of the oldest distilled brand of liquor in Amsterdam: Bol’s genever, or gin, produced since 1575.

After going through the museum, you get to create a cocktail using the different flavors of genever. Then you can try some samples. Entry cost €12 per adult, but the senior rate was only €7.50 ($10).

Ventura, CA