As a travel journalist with over 20 years of experience, I have written numerous articles on Amsterdam for the travel sections of newspapers such as The Daily Telegraph, Mail on Sunday and The Independent. I've also contributed to guidebooks on Amsterdam for the AA and Dorling Kindersley.
For my portfolio of writing, I am proud to say that the Netherlands Board of Tourism has voted me Journalist of the Year 2010.
During my many and frequent visits to the Dutch capital, I've stayed in most of the best hotels (in all price brackets - not just the expensive ones), and visited dozens of others. I've eaten and drunk in more restaurants, cafés and bars than, even sober, I can remember. I've explored the canals by boat and bike and on foot. I've hunted for bargains in the markets. I've admired the art - and worked out how best to avoid the crowds and queues - in the must-see museums. When not in Amsterdam or on my travels elsewhere, I'm at home in Bath.
Where I always grab a beer - Café t' Smalle (Egelantiersgracht 12), a cosy, classic "brown café" with its own canalside terrace.
My favourite dining spot - Café de Reiger (Nieuwe Leliestraat 34), an atmospheric eetcafé in the Jordaan that is always packed with locals.
Best for people watching - A window seat in Snackbar Bird (Zeedijk 77), a great little no-frills Thai café on one of the main thoroughfares into the Red Light District.
My favourite stroll - Pick a canal, any canal...but the stretch of the Prinsengracht along the Jordaan district is particularly lovely.
Where to be seen - MiNiBAR (Prinsengracht 478), an unusual, newish bar near the Leidseplein where you get your own minibar (and unlike many of Amsterdam's trendy nightspots, it's easy to get in).
The most breathtaking view - from the top of the tower of the Westerkerk.
The best spot for some peace and quiet - Vondelpark, the city's main park - especially towards its less visited western end.
Shopaholics beware! The gourmet shops, funky art galleries, fashionable clothes boutiques and oddball stores that line the charming Negen Straatjes or Nine Streets quarter.
Best new attraction - Hermitage Amsterdam, which lays on no-expense-spared exhibitions of treasures from St Petersburg's State Hermitage Museum.
Don’t leave without...exploring the Eastern Docklands on a bike. The avant-garde modern architecture there is as memorable as the old gabled canal houses in the centre.
My expert information
If you're reading this, you're probably after a quick, clear steer on why you might want to visit Amsterdam. Ok, here are my 10 top reasons.
For the canals
Amsterdam has 65 miles of them, crossed by some 1,300 mostly curvaceous little bridges. The most pleasing waterways are lined with gabled merchants' houses dating from the Golden Age - the 17th-century canal ring was put on UNESCO's World Heritage List in 2010. You can, by the way, stay in many of those lovely old canalside buildings, for not necessarily a lot of money.Read more...