CAFE AMERICAIN – Amsterdam art deco

The Netherlands' oldest grand cafe - Cafe Americain, Amsterdam, built 1902.

When I first came to Amsterdam as a poor backpacker, an occasional coffee in the Cafe Americain was one of the few luxuries I could allow myself.

It helped that it was right by the outdoor terraces of the Leidseplein, where I could sometimes earn enough to pay for my coffee by busking with my yellow violin. I suspect people donated out of sympathy, or in the hope that I’d spend the money wisely, on violin lessons for instance.

In those days I had no interest in art deco interior design, or even in coffee to tell the truth, but in the Cafe Americain I could read English language newspapers for free – an important bonus for pre-internet era travellers.

Today, for the first time in several years, Mevrouw T and I graced the place with our presence. It’s supposed to be the place where Amsterdam celebrities gather, but we seemed to be the only ones. Any autograph hunters and paparazzi left us alone.

They may be feigning indifference, but we suspect they came here hoping to rub shoulders with people like us.

I was pleased to see they still have a reading table with multiple copies of The International Herald Tribune and USA Today.

The coffee, at EUR3.75 for a cappuccino is not much better than the swill served in most Amsterdam establishments, though it is better presented, with a nice choccy.

The ambience and decor are what make it special.

Coincidentally the current exhibition in the Stadsarchief (City Archives) features the work of cartoonist Theo van den Boogard, and several of his drawings of the Cafe Americain.

The heritage-listed Amsterdam American Hotel, 1900.

For more about the Amsterdam American Hotel, click here.


Filed under Art, Holland

7 responses to “CAFE AMERICAIN – Amsterdam art deco

  1. Hmmm I’m certainly taking a few tips to stardom- yellow violin, mixing with the rich and famous, sneaking copyright art works… You always give me loads of good ideas Richard!
    Seriously, this place is a one of a kind. I want a very conspicuous table for all to see me hehe
    Take care, Therese

  2. I’m not so sure the road to stardom is working, Therese.

    We were in Cafe Americain for at least an hour, maybe two, and spotted no paparazzi hiding behind the potted palms. Not even a waiter sneaking over to offer us a tray of extra chocolates, courtesy of the management.

    Are we losing our appeal, or were we in the wrong place at the wrong time?

  3. Yes, the cafe Americain is quit special. One of the few art-deco places in Amsterdam I think. It has the same feel as the coffee houses in Budapest for instance.
    I didn’t really know about the celebrities going there. Once, the Palladium (at Leidseplein) was frequented by famous Dutch football stars. Bit I don’t know if this is still the case.
    Still, I think 3.75 euro for a cappuccino is not that expensive, considering the Amsterdam prices, I know. Living in Amsterdam changes some perspectives… šŸ˜‰

    • As you say, the cappuccino’s price was fine, Marjolein, though maybe EUR1.00 up from the city average. Worth it for the decor though. But if anyone knows where I can get a good coffee in this city, I’d be pleased to hear it.

      After years of searching, so far I can only recommend the cappuccino at Buffet van Odette on the Herengracht. I’m open to other suggestions.

  4. I always enjoy the coffee at Anne& Max in Haarlem and Alkmaar. Since last Monday they have opened another restaurant in Amsterdam! Haven’t been there yet. It’s on Amstelveenseweg 196. Their website:

    Didn’t know the Buffet van Odette, will try that one!

  5. Pingback: Why are comments closed on my blog? | Dominik Brendan's ThoughtsDominik Brendan's Thoughts

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