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How to Eat and Drink on a Budget in Amsterdam

After a second extended city break in Amsterdam, Liz and her husband are keen to share tips they picked up along the way to help others.

Amsterdam.

Amsterdam.

Our Approach to Holiday Planning

Our approach to holiday planning goes like this: we choose a destination, in this case, Amsterdam. Next, we look for reasonably priced flights. Then we sort out where we are going to stay, usually based on where we can get a good deal or use loyalty points. We read about the destination and get an idea of the main attractions that we want to visit.

These are all good ideas, but something is missing. Where are we going to eat and drink? No trip, no matter how stunning the location, is going to be a success without refreshments along the way. Read on to find out how we fared in Amsterdam and pick up some tips as you travel with us.

Your Holiday Planning

The Plan

In this guide, we start off by considering the food and drink options where we are staying, before heading out to explore some of the eating and drinking places in Amsterdam. Join us as we sample a little of what Amsterdam has to offer.

1. Make the Most of Where You Stay

  • Breakfast
  • Executive Lounges
  • Welcome Drinks
  • Complimentary Snacks
  • Drinks Facilities in Your Hotel Room
  • Minibars

2. Do-It-Yourself Food and Drink

  • Breakfast
  • Drinks and Snacks
  • Meals
  • Alternative Use for a Redundant Minibar

3. Activities that Include Refreshments

  • Canal Trips
  • The Heineken Experience

4. Favorite Snack Places in Amsterdam

  • Sonneveld Eetcafe
  • Brasserie 3-5-3
  • Treat Yourself at the Skylounge, Doubletree by Hilton

5. Favorite Restaurants in Amsterdam

  • De Plantage
  • OBA
  • La Casona
  • Treat Yourself to a Rijsttafel
Amsterdam.

Amsterdam.

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1. Make the Most of Where You Stay

Sometimes we can be so focused on getting out and exploring a destination, that we fail to take advantage of the opportunities for refreshment at little cost in our accommodation. Here are a few to consider.

Breakfast

I have heard breakfast described as 'the best meal of the day'. A hearty breakfast can set you up for the day. We often eat a big breakfast buffet and then have no need for lunch.

Does your hotel include free breakfast? Some brands, like Hilton, offer a complimentary breakfast to members of their loyalty program (Hilton Honors) with gold or diamond status.

Our night in the Hilton Amsterdam was complimentary (due to a credit card). The chance of a free breakfast in the restaurant was definitely too good to miss. One of the best breakfast spreads we have ever had included a range of cereals, hot drinks, juices, fruits and yogurt, hot and cold savory options as well as bakery items. It was well presented with local touches like the giant clogs on the bakery section and little Dutch house models on the cold section. To top it all we were served a pancake with a sparkler in it, as our booking mentioned a wedding anniversary.

Other hotels, like Holiday Inn Express, routinely include an all-you-can-eat breakfast in the room rate. Our stay at Holiday Inn Express City Hall was booked using points. Breakfast here was not on the scale of the Hilton, as there were no hot savory options. But it offered enough in the way of juices, hot drinks, cold savory choices, cereals, bakery items, fruit, and yogurt to give us a good start to the day.

Do the Maths

It is worth finding out how much breakfast is at your hotel. If the cost is reasonable and the buffet is good, you might not need to buy another meal until later in the day. Paying for a hotel breakfast can be cheaper than getting breakfast and lunch out in Amsterdam.

Executive Lounges

Does your hotel have an executive lounge? If so, can you access it for free? Some brands, such as Hilton and InterContinental Hotel Group, have executive lounges in selected hotels. These can be free with the higher grades of rooms. It is always worth checking if you can get a free upgrade. Usually, you are in a stronger position the higher up the tier status you are in loyalty reward schemes.

Executive lounges vary greatly in their provision. Some offer hot drinks, soft drinks, and a few snack items. Others offer a timetable of edible treats throughout the day with alcoholic drinks available too in a timed evening slot.

Due to tier status, we received a room upgrade at Hilton Amsterdam. The room included access to the executive lounge on the 10th floor, which was a glass-walled area on the roof. Tables and chairs were set out, with a sofa group at the end. We could have taken a light breakfast up there. Throughout the day a selection of soft drinks was available from a minibar. Hot drinks came from a self-service machine. A range of savory snacks (vegetable crisps, salted crisps, nuts, and crackers) was left out in the lounge and there were apples and boiled sweets near the entrance.

Between 5.30 pm and 7.30 pm, a selection of spirits (gin, whiskey, vodka, and rum) appeared. Heineken and wine were left out 30 minutes longer until 8.00 pm. There were hot dishes of meatballs and mozzarella sticks in breadcrumbs with tomato sauce, mayonnaise, and sweet chili sauce.

The main spread consisted of focaccia, topped with cheese and tomato, ham, melon, mozzarella and tomato, Gouda cheese, biscottis, breadsticks, tomatoes in oil, asparagus hearts, and butter beans. Desserts were chocolate and creamy toffee sauce, sponge fingers soaked in coffee and chantilly.

If you do not qualify for free access, some hotels will charge a fee. It is worth checking what is available and doing the maths to work out whether it represents good value for money.