After the end of our bike trip in September we spent a few nights in Amsterdam, made even more pleasant by staying at the five-star Hotel Pulitzer, an assemblage of 25 grand old canal houses cunningly linked together and named for one-time owner Herbert Pulitzer, grandson of the publishing magnate. The abundance of architecture spells some trouble for the bellhop, and a real danger of getting lost on your way back from breakfast, but it also means that there are some wonderful spaces to enjoy, both shared and private. Not all such spaces are indoors: the hotel has its own historic canal boat, built in 1909 but recently converted to electric power, available for hourly rental as well as scheduled tours.

It was in the hotel that I first discovered another charming feature of life in Amsterdam: hot chocolate is customarily served in kit form.  Whipped cream appears on the side, to be added as required, avoiding milk-moustache and allowing accurate titration.

This particular scene is from Bagels & Beans, a little chain of cafes, and demonstrates ultimate coco-deconstruction: the chocolate itself arrives separately.

By the way, the Pulitzer is thorough in carrying out its literary theme.  Not only are there books for reading anywhere you look, but if you turn your shirts in for washing they come back neatly folded in manuscript boxes.

Also, Amsterdam may be the only place you’ll ever find bicycle tire repair kits among the items for sale in your mini-bar.