When I checked into The Hoxton, Amsterdam, I knew that I wanted to visit the Red Light District. Luckily, the extremely friendly front desk person was super helpful with my questions. I asked her if a tour of the Red Light District would be worth it. Online, the cheapest walking tour I found was €90. Which seemed great – if you needed hand holding and didn’t want to look things up on Wikipedia.
She quickly said that the tour amount seemed high and suggested a restaurant – Mata Hari.
After a brisk walk past the Royal Palace Amsterdam, I arrived at the base of the Red Light District.
It was everything I’d imagined – and more. I had NO IDEA how clean it actually was! As it was still around 8:30pm and rather bright outside, no whores were in the windows as I walked down. I think I saw one that wanted to get a head start. But, as I sped walk down to Mata Hari, I knew I would have a different scene walking back.
When I arrived at Mata Hari, I was impressed. The Hoxton Amsterdam front desk staff knows how to recommend outstanding places.
Checking in for my reservation, I was whisked upstairs to a candlelit table for one. I lived. It was everything vintage I didn’t know I needed in that moment.
I started with a glass of 2022 Pays d’Oc Pinot Noir by Domaine Girard (hints of strawberry, cherry with a light raspberry red color) and ordered the SEA BASS CEVICHE (saffron, watercress, crispy capers). After enjoying the sea bass at Valentina Cantina the previous night, I was eager to try another in the same vein.
My main dish was the RIB-EYE WITH PUFFED GARLIC GRAVY (mash of purslane, bacon, braised leek). To put it plainly, I devoured it. The bacon added a distinct texture to the steak. Wheres the braised leek and mashed potatoes was nicely filling.
My candle lit table for one in Amsterdam, with a glass of wine and filling meal – was exceptional. It gave me everything I wanted – for less than the charge of a tour.
As I made my way back toward my hotel – I was struck by the fact that I was ACTUALLY IN Amsterdam and actually in the Red Light District. I saw a man walk out of a woman’s room; heard tourists making comments about the space and saw various Eastern European ladies of the evening gyrating in their windows while trying to catch a paying player.
But honestly, the best part of the Red Light District was finding a great place to eat – and then leaving.
Watching women get paid for trickin’ is not that big of a deal anymore. I live in LA.