Group visits to ZSL London Zoo and ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

Amsterdam old and new

Peter in John and Yoko's hotel room

Peter in John and Yoko’s hotel room

Editorial Director Peter Stonham found many new things to see on a short visit to Amsterdam hosted by the City Marketing team.

The trip was designed to showcase the city as both a tourist and convention destination and to explore visit themes beyond the traditional canal and cafe features, for which it is famed.

Staying at the recently opened Hilton Amsterdam Airport Schipol, an impressive architectural design built round a grand atrium, event partners Hilton also organised visits to the new Central Amsterdam Hilton, adjacent to the railway station with its iconic rooftop Sky Lounge offering some of the best views of the city, and to the original Hilton Amsterdam hotel, dating from the 1960s with a peaceful canalside location just away from the city centre.

The visit there included a surprise look at the bedroom where Beatle John Lennon and new wife Yoko Ono had held their ‘sleep in for peace’ in 1969. The room is now available for guests who would like to live out a piece of history, and viewings are usually available to others staying at the hotel.

Amongst other places visited was the famous Concertgebouw performance venue to see the main auditorium and other facilities. The former Stock Exchange, The Beurs van Berlage is now a convention centre but also well worth a visit to enjoy the cafe and admire the very early Art Nouveau design and detailing.

Peter samples each of the three main beers in the Heineken range.

Peter samples each of the three main beers in the Heineken range.

The trip included the original Heineken Brewery which is now a Visitor Experience and brewing interpretation centre where Peter sampled each of the three main beers in the Heineken range. Another element of the trip was to see the city’s welcome to the major global biennial Aids and HIV Convention being attended by 18,000 people.

A rapidly developing new part of Amsterdam is the northern area across the River Ij where the former headquarters of Royal Dutch Shell, A’Dam Toren is now an Arts Complex with an impressive rotating 19th floor restaurant, Moon, where Peter enjoyed an excellent lunch and amazing views.

Next door is the new Amsterdam Eye Film museum and cinema – another new iconic building, which is wonderfully open and relaxing. Peter was impressed by the 24-hour free ferry service that links this part of Amsterdam with the central area.

The trip included an almost obligatory canal cruise and experience of the historic central area, though the pressure of the huge volume of visitor activity that reflects Amsterdam’s popularity is something that the tourism authorities are trying to ameliorate by encouraging people to explore other parts of the city and its surroundings.

Amsterdam's enduring canal scene

Amsterdam’s enduring canal scene