Canal Canoodling In Gay Amsterdam
Paris and Rome may get all the attention as romantic European honeymoon destinations, but for my money, gay and lesbian love blooms brighter in Amsterdam.
The Holland Tourist Board runs a cheeky ad campaign in the US that announces “Everyone’s Gay in Amsterdam”—and they asked me recently if I’d like to verify that claim. Here are some of my tastey tips for your gay honeymoon getaway to the charming city of canals.
Tastey Stay. The Lloyd Hotel & Cultural Embassy in the revitalized Eastern Docklands area is high on design, and can be easy on the pocket book. Named to the 2005 Condé Nast Traveler Hot List, the hotel’s building dates from the early 1920s and has housed a migrants’ boarding house, a detention center as well as a youth prison—talk about gay fantasy. The 116 rooms are now a showcase for clever Dutch design—ranging from “one-star” rooms for around 100 Euro with original tiled paneling and shared baths to a “five-star” room for around 350 Euro with a bed that sleeps eight. Hey, it’s your gay honeymoon; you can do whatever you like!
Tastey Drink. Raise a glass to your nuptials at The Queen’s Head and have a friendly chat with owners Don and Arjan—who celebrated quite the gay wedding recently (a framed picture from the local paper hangs above the bar). The lush red interior with palm plants and disco balls has a view out to a canal, and there’s an easy mix of gay and lesbian locals and tourists.
Tastey Eats. Book a table at De Kas, a world-class restaurant focusing on local, sustainable produce. A short tram ride outside the canal district, the restaurant is housed in a city park in a renovated greenhouse that once grew trees for Amsterdam. The elegant restaurant now grows all its own herbs on site and has a farm just outside of town where it harvests its produce. This is an absolutely can’t miss stop for great design, flavor, green attitude, as well as a little romantic candle light to celebrate your big day. It has a private room for larger parties as well.
Tastey Tips. See Amsterdam like the locals from the saddle of a bike. With
designated cycling lanes everywhere, this city is made for two wheels. Lloyd’s has bikes for rent for 12 euro/day or alternatively check out one of the 3 locations of MacBike, and pick up a self-guided Gay Bike Tour that they call both “historic” and “hysteric.” In advance of your trip, contact the Gay Tourist Information Center to order a packet of all the gay happenings while you are in Amsterdam. The Center is within easy walking distance of the Homomonument, memorializing the gay men and women who were victims of the Nazi regime, and honoring those everywhere who have battled for freedom and human rights.
For an extra dose of history and reminder of the power of one individual to change the world, head just down the block to the Anne Frank Museum. Miss the tour crowds by going around 7pm—the building stays open until 9pm.
Jon Paul Buchmeyer is the author of the award-winning humorous memoir Alphabet City: My So-Called Sitcom Life and writes frequently for Condé Nast Traveler and Bon Appétit magazines. In addition, he is the author of his own popular blogs: ABCityblog.com and Poptimistic.com.