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.
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.
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.
For more about the Amsterdam American Hotel, click here.