Amsterdam style guide

 

Now don't get me wrong. Amsterdam is a lovely old city with gracious gabled buildings, a maze of canals, bicycles everywhere and, in the right season, ablaze with tulips. But stylish? I wasn't so sure about that until I picked up this book.

I was there - many years ago, but this book's author, Monique van den Heuvel has lived in Amsterdam for over twenty years, so she should know best. She is also a lifestyle journalist and social media specialist. With this sort of local cred she is worth paying attention to when she selects her favourite places to eat, sleep and shop in this city.

This book is part of a series, and all follow a similar format: a trendy layout, heaps of full colour photographs, and each city broken up into various neighbourhoods. None of the authors of these book attempts an exhaustive listing. There's the internet and phonebooks for that. What they are after is the sort of places visitors feel as if they have discovered; or, as Monique says, 'shops and hangouts that are a little quirky and managed with love'.

This is a friendly, personal book filled with the author's favourite places - and people. Throughout the book there are anecdotes and profiles of real-life people connected to various places. So you can meet Suzanne Smulders who runs a 'fashion library', or Lot Douze in her Over Het Water bookshop, or pop into Jeroen Keizer's Rum Baba cafe for the best cranberry cake or pumpkin pie.

Luckily Monique loves eating too, so there are plenty of food shops, markets, cafes and restaurants to balance the fashion places, homewares, florists - and places to stay, of course.

It's a very full book, with clearly-drawn maps, so that whether you walk, cycle or come by canal boat, everything is accessible. The index at the back is useful too, but I would have also liked one that broke the contents into categories as well, so that I could easily locate all the bakeries, or cheese shops, or whatever. But perhaps that just me.

Certainly this is the sort of book worth bringing along on a visit to Amsterdam, as it is a complex city, super-stylish as you will see - and it is quite obvious that you really shouldn't miss anything!

 

Amsterdam Style Guide, by Monique van den Heuvel, published by Murdoch Books, November 2016, hardcover, fully illustrated, rrp A$39.99. ISBN 9781 7433 68930.

- reviewed by Sally Hammond

 

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