Think Netherlands, think bicycles, windmills, soft drugs and legalised sex work – though London’s 18,000 Dutch people will tell you those stereotypes only really hold true within Amsterdam’s limits. Traditionally a trading nation, Holland has done business in London for centuries, with Dutch people like myself settling here since the Middle Ages. Prince William of Orange even rose to become King William III of England in 1689, and during WWII the Dutch government-in-exile was based in Green Park.
These days the Anglo-Dutch cultural exchange is more hedonistic: Amsterdam is a popular party destination for Brits. We ‘Hollondoners’, on the other hand, like to do our drinking mainly on April 27 or ‘King’s Day’ (the birthday of King Willem-Alexander). The famous Dutch lagers – Heineken, Amstel and Grolsch – are available throughout London, but a more authentic taste of home is on offer too… if you know where to look. Koos Couvée
Did you know? In December we celebrate Sinterklaas with gifts, accompanied by satirical poems. But it’s a touchy topic for expats because of its association with the blackface character Zwarte Piet.
Koos’s favourite Dutch spots in London
De Hems pub in Chinatown is where the Dutch Resistance met during World War II. This is where to come for Dutch craft beers and snacks and to cheer on Oranje, the national football team.
Immerse yourself in contemporary Dutch culture at the Dutch Centre in the City.
The best place to feel gezellig (the Dutch answer to hygge) is the Dutch-managed Sir Richard Steele pub in Belsize Park. This year’s King’s Day party drew an orange-clad crowd of 1,200.
The three branches of My Old Dutch are the places to go for poffertjes: mini pancakes served with butter and icing sugar. My personal pick, though, is the Amsterdammer: a pancake with sautéed apple, smoked bacon and maple syrup.
The best of Dutch London, according to you
‘Hema is for proper Dutch shopping. The largest branch is in Kingston-upon Thames: two floors of Hema heaven. It’s a dream come true!’ Maaike V via www.timeout.com
‘The best Dutch sport, korfball, at Highbury Korfball Club.’ Rich H via Facebook
‘The Flying Dutchman bike shop in Camden is like a hub for Dutch people – they are turning London into Amsterdam!’ Harry W via www.timeout.com