The Norwegian capital is home to some of Europe's most exciting renewable energy companies – but staying there certainly isn't cheap.
Amsterdam, the business and financial capital of the Netherlands, regularly scores highly in city indices for its livability and economic stability. The Martin Prosperity Institute list puts it at number four in the world based on technology, talent, tolerance and quality, while a recent survey that mashed up the Economist Intelligence Unit's annual global city rankings with other factors including proximity to UNESCO heritage sites and connectivity to the rest of the world saw Amsterdam come second only to Hong Kong
The Netherlands is the world's second biggest exporter of agrifood (food and other farm-related businesses) after the United States; it leads the world in exporting cut flowers, including those famous tulips, plants and trees. Amsterdam plays a vital role in this agri-food business and the city's port is the world's most important for cocoa beans, handling a quarter of global production. The city's Heineken brewery, which brews 171.7 million hectolitres of beer every year, is the world's third largest.
The focus on food is also evident in the city's thriving start-up scene. One of the coolest new start-ups (pun intended) is MELT, which creates customised ice lollies. It has used the Dutch equivalent of Kickstarter – Voordekunst.nl – to raise money to build a 3D ice lolly printer called the Icepop Generator.
The Dutch capital is also strong in the chemical sector and is headquarters to global powerhouse AkzoNobel. The company is located in Zuidas, Amsterdam's key business district, which numbers some 700 businesses and rivals London's Canary Wharf or Paris' La Défense. There are several smaller business districts in the centre: the newspaper business is centred around Sloterdijk while Amstelplein is home to technology company Philips.
Speaking English is something the Dutch excel at, so no worries if your language skills are not so great. Business meetings for international companies will invariably be held in English.
At the end of April, Amsterdam once again hosts The Next Web conference which attracts some of the biggest names in tech to the city. This year's speakers include Kevin Rose of Google Ventures and Evan Sharp, co-founder of Pinterest.
Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport is extremely well connected to Heathrow. KLM has a regular shuttle service that operates 12 times a day while British Airways runs up to nine daily flights in each direction. The route between the two airports is the third busiest to Europe from the UK, travelled by almost 1.5 million passengers a year.
Schiphol has an international railway station beneath the airport. Services to Amsterdam's Centraal station take 15 minutes. You can book in advance and get e-tickets by email from the Dutch Railways site.
The 15km taxi journey to the centre of Amsterdam depends on traffic but count on a minimum of 20 minutes. It should cost around €40 to €50. Schiphol Business Taxi is a limo service that costs approximately €60; users can request an electric powered e-taxi, which also offers free WiFi for the journey to the centre.
Amsterdam has a comprehensive public transport network comprising tram, bus and metro. A GVB day card gives you unlimited travel on the network for a day. You can get them from drivers and conductors on busses and trams and ticket machines around the city. Bikes are everywhere too. You can hire one from Yellow Bike for approximately €12 a day from three locations in the city. Taking a boat in this city of canals seems like a nice idea but is better left to the tourists.
If you are meeting out at Zuidas and have a break between appointments, jump in a cab and head for beautiful Vondelpark. With its lakes and statues, it's a great place for a mind-clearing walk in the sun.
The park is also close to Amsterdam's museum district. The Rijksmuseum, recently refreshed after an extensive renovation, is one of the world's great art galleries and is home to more than 8,000 paintings, including Rembrandt's Night Watch, Vermeer's Milkmaid and others from the Dutch Golden Age. Next door you will find the Van Gogh Museum, home to the largest collection in the world of the Dutch artist's paintings, including Sunflowers.
As European business capitals go, Amsterdam is relatively cheap when it comes to staying the night. According to PwC's European cities hotel forecast, the average day rate is approximately €119.30 – far lower than places like London and Paris. Rates have been kept moderate by an oversupply of hotels in the city.
One of the most eagerly awaited openings that will only add to the business room supply is the Waldorf Astoria, converted from six 18th century canal-side houses and set to open this summer by the Herengracht canal.
If you want to feel right at home (assuming your home is a pretty swish place) try the small and beautiful Fusion Suites at Roemer Visscherstraat 40, in a beautiful 19th century mansion and run to perfection by Sharmila and Alex Beverwijk. The Grand Suites, have views of Amsterdam's green lung, the Vondelpark, while Classic Suites look out over the gardens. The design is classy with wooden parquet floors and antique tables set off with modern sofas and striking modern wallpaper.
You can't mention Amsterdam hotels without a tip of the hat to citizenM, which did much to kick start the interest in affordable luxury hotels worldwide. The chain, which now has outposts in London and (soon) New York, was founded in Amsterdam in 2008 by Rattan Chadha of the Mexx fashion fame. CitizenM has two properties in the city, one at Schiphol and the other at Prinses Irenestraat 30 near Amsterdam Zuid station. You get the idea as soon as you walk into the Living Room: the hotel's free form lobby where guests check themselves in.
If you need to check emails while nursing a decent flat white, look out for Coffee Company, a mini chain with 22 branches around Amsterdam. There is free WiFi at all branches and many have funky decor – the Oosterdok branch is particularly cool.
Feeling peckish? Try BAK at Van Diemenstraat 408, which offers good seasonal and organic dishes. It started as a pop-up and has now gone permanent, housed in the top floor of a converted warehouse that’s also home to a theatre. Expect to pay around €50 a head including decent wine. And if you're in need of a serious feed, try Fa. Speijkervet at Admiraal de Ruijterweg 79, which offers pork-based ‘nose-to-tail eating’. If it's part of a pig, they'll cook it for you!
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Leave your luggage in the ample racks near the doors and relax for your journey in one of our comfortable, spacious seats.
With a good nights sleep before your flight then just 15 minutes to the airport, Paddington is a great place to stay.
Don't risk missing your flight by getting stuck in a taxi in rush hour or being hit by a tube strike