Covetable curiosities

The Otherist window, AmsterdamSome shops are less a retail opportunity than the chance to enter a whole new world. Part art gallery, part magician’s storeroom, The Otherist is definitely one of these.

Pewter woodpeckerI came across this compact wonderland on a sunny day in Amsterdam, while wondering alongside the little Leliegracht canal. The shelves were covered with curiosities, from pewter kingfisher skulls to porcelain pebbles embellished with intricate insect portraits, to a cabinet crammed with gleaming vintage glass eyes. I was entranced.

Porcelain pebbles1“I think my favorite Dutch word of the moment has got to be ‘hebbedingetjes’, says proprietor Steven Stoddart. “It’s an all-encompassing category that acts as an umbrella under which shelter all the things one wants but might (or most definitely) not use. The thing that I like so much about it is the sense of urgency, that it doesn’t just translate as little things one wants, but really as sweet little things that one thinks might just be necessary for life to continue in the manner in which one desires.”

It’s the perfect place to feed your imagination.

Happily, I’ve since discovered they have a website too, so if you fancy a few moment’s escapism in the form of an online shopping trip, pay a visit to

Happy browsing!

Amsterdam: From A to B and beyond

Singel canal with bikes, AmsterdamThe following extract is part of one of my travel features, and can be read in full at easyJet.

Arriving in Amsterdam is a bit like accidentally stepping on an anthill. You emerge from the airport directly into a heaving train station with people rushing around in every direction, all seemingly knowing exactly where to go.

We stayed at The Double Tree by Hilton, a vast green construction with a cool glassy exterior and a modern interior of clean lines and high ceilings.

National Monument, AmsterdamThe hotel is perfectly placed for visiting Amsterdam’s highlights, from the Red Light District to the exceptional galleries and museums that burst from every corner. After dropping off our cases we made our way to Prinsengracht (the Prince’s Canal), admiring the grand, if admittedly rather phallic, National Monument as we crossed Dam Square.

Prinsengracht is the perfect place to while away an afternoon, with easygoing bars frequented by locals, and the restaurant Envy, where we feasted on a multitude of small dishes such as Dutch oysters, North Sea crab salad, fried pork belly and an array of Dutch cheeses. Continue reading