Top tip on bike rental in Amsterdam

I had the pleasure of spending 24 hours in Amsterdam this week, organising a dinner for Netherlands-based alumni of the school I work for. (The Apotheek room at the Pultizer Hotel, where we held the dinner for 14 people, was a perfect venue for this kind of thing. The food was excellent too.) It was so lovely to be back in the city where we spent two and a half very happy years. I hadn’t visited since September 2013 and was definitely missing it.

When we left to return to Switzerland in 2011 I wrote a blog post about some of my favourite things to see and do in Amsterdam. I often share the post with friends that ask me for travel advice. Having returned as a kind of tourist again this week, I discovered a potentially very useful tip for related to bike rental in Amsterdam. There are loads of different rental companies, but only one (as far as I know) that offered what I needed, which was the possibility of returning a bike after opening hours.

I was in the city for just 24 hours and needed a bike from Thursday morning. My flight was at 09:00 the following morning. Most of the rental companies close between 18:00 and 19:00, but I really wanted to have the use of the bike until midnight or later. I discovered (tipped off via an old forum discussion that I haven’t been able to re-find) that Star Bikes offer a late return service. For €9 I could hire for a 24 hour period and simply lock the bike outside the shop whenever I was finished, dropping the keys through their letterbox. Perfect!

They’re located quite close to the central station, on the waterfront just a little further east along De Ruyterkade. The woman that served me was super-friendly and gave me a nice discreet black bike with a big basket (which meant I didn’t look like a tourist, as those on the very popular red and yellow bikes do).

Miriam of Mulligan's

I only managed to follow up on one of my top tips from that 2011 blog post and can happily confirm (thanks to my Star Bikes enabled late night mobility) that Mulligan’s pub is as gezellig as ever. Miriam, the owner, was behind the bar and I enjoyed catching up with her over a fine pint of the black stuff (and possibly something a little stronger to follow).

Breakfast at Café Thijssen

I’ll also mention in passing that I took advantage of the wifi at Café Thijssen (at the Brouwersgracht end of Lindengracht) to do a bit of work on Thursday morning. The yoghurt, fruit and muesli they serve there is every bit as good as I remembered. In fact, I probably should have included this place in that earlier Amsterdam travel tips blog post, as it’s a nice spot to visit at any time of day or night. (Then again, the Jordaan area is spilling over with nice little “bruin cafés”.)