Amsterdam has everything from cocktail bars to beer sampling and bar and cafe establishments, in addition to bars that are onsite at luxurious hotels. Some venues such as NJOY, have some fun with the drink selections and have personality type drinks, including The Alchemist, The Trendsetter and The Dreamer. HPS is near the city centre and offers a Roaring Twenties theme, including pro-prohibition classics, originals and Tiki drinks.
5&33 is a cocktail bar and club, and brings together drinking, art, multimedia and socialising. The bar was named the best hotel bar at the Red & Grey Best Hotel Bar Award of 2014. The Cool Down Cafe is one of the city’s most active nightlife destinations and includes a few bars and a dance floor. Top 40 songs and pop favourites are played. The Cotton Club is an age-old jazz cafe that has been restored. Enjoy socialising while you listen to live music in jazz, swing and funk genres.
Air Amsterdam is a club scene all the way, with a warm ambiance and high-tech audio-visual facilities. One of the best aspects of the club are the Void Acoustics sound system. There are also electronic lockers, five bars, three restroom areas, two smoking rooms and a new red room to accommodate larger parties.
The Red Light District is indeed the most “tolerant” part of the city and certainly not a place to take small children. Prostitution is legal here and licensed; therefore, window prostitution services are visible. The RLD is made up of several canals as well as side streets and can be found south of Central Station. Prostitution is not widespread throughout the city, but limited to certain busy streets as well as the canals. Police are present here, as are security cameras, so it’s certainly one of the safest adult districts anywhere in the world. There are also bars and restaurants situated in the Red Light District, as well as a few museums and historical sites. Oddly enough, the infamous district is also the oldest part of the city. One fair warning: you are not allowed to take photos of sex workers, and tourists that break the rule have been known to lose their cameras.
Amsterdam is also known for its sale of certain drugs, illegal in some countries, but tolerated here—which is not to say it’s completely legal. Sale and consumption of cannabis is generally allowed but it’s not an anything-goes atmosphere. In fact, certain locations have adopted a stricter policy involving consumption. Coffeeshops sell marijuana products and nothing else, but not all shops are known for quality. Never buy hard drugs on the street, even if locals from the RLD offer this. This is still an illegal activity, and can also be a scam or a set up for a mugging. Smartshops sell herbal products and may have other products that are not so prevalent in other European countries. The Cannabis Cup is actually a major event every year and happens at Thanksgiving. Day passes are sold to this event, at €30 or €250 for a judge’s pass.
For more traditional adult entertainment without the risk or scare factor of the window prostitutes, there is Bananen Bar offering table dances, lap dances and pole dances and music. The Erotic Museum is another popular spot, and was even awarded a “Best of Amsterdam” recognition by Timeout magazine. The “cheeky” museum collects vintage cartoons, prints, paintings, and covers various sexual cultures and themes. The similarly imagined Sex Museum: The Temple of Venus features iconic celebrity memorabilia, suggestively shaped decor, and odd noises coming from hidden speakers in the various exhibit rooms. With rooms dedicated to Mata Hari, Marquis de Sade, Oscar Wilde, and others, it’s an educational journey—and one you are allowed to photograph.
The Hash, Marijuana and Hemp Museum (two in one) covers all industrial uses of the hemp plant as well as recreational marijuana’s use throughout history.
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