One of my favorite Amsterdam spots to go on a rainy, lazy afternoon or evening, is the Grand Cafe at the Amsterdam Central train station.
The original structure of the station was built in 1881 by the same designer and build as the Amsterdam Rijksmuseum. These two buildings definitely have a common flavor – sadly these days only from the outside – of Victorian-Gothic-Fake-Renaissance chic.
The Grand Cafe was build as the first class waiting room in the original station – today there is a pub (with deep chairs that are perfect to while away an hour with a book, or cozy tables and chairs for a snack and a drink), and a restaurant.
For me, coming here is always a bit like a journey into another place, another world, another time: (If they could only adjust the damn music to something that isn’t horrid!) The deeply dark wood bar with the massive Chinese vases; the ceilings where the metal beams have been decorated with scrollwork and colors to rival the Uffizi in Florence; the waiters in crisp white shirts and bow ties; the views out the window of the St. Nicholas Church and the Victoria Hotel.
To find the cafe, head to platform 2b. I recommend having a seat through the entrance marked “Pub” since you get the full menu there anyway, but it’s lighter and more open. (The menu is basic and not really the reason to go – although their house white wine is decent!) When you can, pop through the door marked “Grand Cafe Toilet.” LOL This takes you through a door into a room available for private parties, and into the restaurant. Worth a moment to check out the decor and see if Greta Garbo is sitting maybe just on the other side of the door.
(And before you leave, make sure to stick your head into the Burger King next door. NO – not for the, ahem, ‘food’! To see some of the other glass work and pillars that are remnants of the original building, as well as a view across to the Balcony Cafe and the romantic and huge station clock.)