Maria Shollenbarger chooses her three favourite places in the world. Number two is in Amsterdam.
Amsterdam isn’t exactly distinguished among capitals for its exceptional collective service ethic. Independence and excellent interiors, however, come thick and fast – traits manifested in the luxe bed-and-breakfast Seven One Seven (www.717hotel.nl; from €425). Opened 14 years ago, it still punches above its weight stylistically, with colonial antiques and modern art thrown flawlessly together in a patrician 18th-century merchant’s house.
The staff is casual; there’s no restaurant (though breakfast is served in a room off the garden, or delivered to you in a gorgeous wicker basket); and if you want wine before dinner in the duck-egg-blue library, you might end up pouring it yourself. But privacy is paramount; you’re mostly left alone and, as a result, the impression of residing in some eccentric but supremely tasteful bachelor uncle’s canalside mansion is near to complete.