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Play Away: Holland's Linksland

Fans of classical music will love the Grachtenfestival (grachtenfestival.nl), August 17-21. There will be more than ninety concerts around the canals, many of them in hidden courtyards and luxurious private homes.

The Rijksmuseum (rijksmuseum.nl) is undergoing major renovations through 2008, but it's still open, and its "Masterpieces" exhibition is well worth a visit. Out of town, the Kröller-Müller Museum (kmm.nl) features works by Van Gogh, Picasso, Seurat and Mondriaan, and it's set in a huge national park, the Hoge Veluwe (hogeveluwe.nl).

Situated on the banks of the Amstel River in a converted eighteenth-century gunpowder factory, Lute Suites is an offshoot of chef Peter Lute's renowned restaurant. The place isn't a hotel per se—the state-of-the-art suites feel more like apartments, and there is no room service or twenty-four-hour reception. The pastoral location on the city's outskirts makes it a perfect base for quick escapes to the links. For a night on the town, Lute operates a little sailboat that cruises upriver into the heart of the city (lutesuites.com).

Should you wish to be closer to Amsterdam's city center, the Lloyd is a sophisticated yet quirky hotel within hailing distance of Centraal Station. The surrounding Eastern Docklands district sits at the cutting edge of modern architecture, and the Lloyd is no exception. Its stern facade is offset by the cheery interiors of the hotel's centerpiece restaurants and oddball touches to the rooms—mine came with a marimba (lloydhotel.com).

Even if you're staying downtown, it's worth the twenty-minute side trip to Ouderkerk to dine at Lute (lutesuites.com), a star in the Slow Food constellation. Try Peter Lute's tasting menus and angle for a spot in the back garden if you can. Another celebrated Slow Food outpost is De Kas (restaurantdekas.nl), where the produce is literally grown on the spot—the restaurant is housed in a working greenhouse.


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