Amsterdam; city of style, great people and freedom… shame about the disabled access!
All the streets in the main city area are cobbled and the road system of cars/buses/trams/motorbikes/scooters/bikes is bewildering. They come at you from all directions! It doesn’t help that when you decide to place yourself in a restaurant away from the chaos of the road, you encounter yet more problems…
We tried three recommended restaurants; Restaurant Greetje (Dutch food with a twist), Vinkeles (1 Michelin Star) and Ciel Bleu (2 Michelin Star).
Restaurant Greetje is tucked away in a residential area and serves great traditional Dutch food. As we walked in, the first thing we had to do was climb some stairs, to the main floor of the restaurant. Then I noticed a ground level area that looked promising; but no such luck as accessing this ground level involves still more stairs. The bathroom (again) involved stairs.
Despite this, the waiters were helpful and polite, the food was delicious and the price was reasonable. If only they had a ramp… 1.5 BBS Ticks.
So next Vinkeles, entering this Michelin Star restaurant (which is part of The Dylan Hotel, which is not very accessible and has no disabled rooms but is stylish nonetheless! 1.5 BBS Ticks); what is the first thing we notice? STAIRS. Stairs to the bar, stairs from the bar, stairs to the restaurant and stairs to the bathroom. No sign of a disabled loo or a lift. I didn’t expect such poor access from such an acclaimed restaurant. What a shame (!) considering the food was excellent, cocktails were fabulous and the service impeccable (although one waiter did forget to bring us more olive oil!)…1.5 BBS Ticks.
Last but not least Ciel Bleu.There’s a reason this restaurant has 2 Michelin Stars. After entering the hotel you are directed to a lift (yes- no stairs) to the highest floor of the Hotel Okura . (The hotel is accessible and has one disabled bedroom with walk-in shower! 2.5 BBS Ticks). When you reach the top, you are seated and welcomed to your table which looks out over the whole of Amsterdam. This spectacular view accompanies your unforgettable meal and flawless service.
The atmosphere is quiet but bubbly and there is more than enough space for wheelchairs to move around the whole restaurant. At this point I decided to check out the toilets; there was no sign of a disabled loo and there was no way you could fit through the door of the toilets let alone into the cubicle itself. Once again we were disappointed, but hopefully there was a disabled loo on a different floor…? (We have since found out that they have a disabled toilet on the ground floor, accessed via a lift as the restaurant is on the 23rd floor!! So Ciel Bleu has been upgraded from 2 to 3 BBS Ticks).
If you are to visit Amsterdam – make sure you look up restaurants to go; there are some really dodgy places with expensive food that doesn’t taste great. The museums are unbelievable – Van Gogh Museum 3 BBS Ticks, and Rijksmuseum 3 BBS Ticks, were my favourite – both accessible. It’s possible to visit Anne Frank’s house too but as there are so many tourists inside it’s hard to get around the small house and see all the artefacts properly, even if you’re able bodied, (old part not accessible because of the stairs but new exhibition is!) 2 BBS Ticks… Shopping is amazing there – great designers, great boutiques and everything is unique.
And if you’re a student – don’t go!!! There are hardly any student tickets or reductions for any of the sites. It is not a cheap holiday.
Written by the The Musical Lieutenant – Leader of our Band! The ratings are provisional as we are waiting for the venues to answer our ratings questionnaire. They’re in anyway as they all fit the ‘Style’ Criteria!