At Spui 18-20, corner with Heisteeg, you find one of Amsterdam’s oldest cafés, with a loyal and varied clientele. Sometimes completely crowded, sometimes surprisingly quiet, the Hoppe bartenders always professional and friendly (and thankfully of the more seasoned and service minded variety).
Me, I prefer Hoppe on quieter afternoons, when it’s not completely overrun with students. Preferably on a sunny afternoon on the small terrace in front of number 18. On those more relaxed days there are always interesting local guests or happy tourists for a chat and even the bartenders have time for a word or two between their outstanding service. The beers are excellent here and the traditional Dutch pub grub is of exceptional quality (try the bitterballen). They even serve a fine breakfast (they open at 8) and lunch.
Hoppe started out in 1670 (even before the Spui and Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal were filled in in 1882), at Spui 18, as a distillery with a tasting room, where all liquor (jenever) was produced in-house. Behind the bar you can see the barrels that once served to pour the various jenevers (Dutch gin) and liqueurs. The interior of the bar, with its antique stained glass windows, is still largely original and overseen by the city’s historical preservation society (Monumentenzorg Amsterdam).
The secret to their continued succes is that nothing has changed much: there is no music to distract from the conversations, the beer is on tap, they serve fine wines, there is still sand on the floor (a remnant from times when chewing tobacco was in vogue).
Hoppe has been a favorite space for the city’s intellectuals and locals for centuries, to discuss politics, art and world affairs. During the 1960s and 1970s it was a standard meeting point for artists and reporters from the nearby newspapers at Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal (who would come here for lunch and stay until late). Simon Carmiggelt (1913-1987), a Dutch writer and journalist who wrote a daily column in newspaper Het Parool, was a regular guest here.
At the start of the 1900s the neighboring number 20 was a hotel and restaurant. In 1949 Harry Mustert bought the bar from his mother (his parents had run the bar). He joined numbers 18 and 20 with a doorway (so they could be run under one license), closed the hotel and added a conservatory to number 20, Sitting-Hoppe, meant for those who prefer to sit down for a chat while watching the crowds pass by. The ladies’ restrooms are at number 20, the men’s in the back at number 18. So now you have Sitting-Hoppe at number 20 and Standing-Hoppe at number 18, each with their own kind of customer and ambiance.
Most who frequent this place
Are of audacious mind
Here we draw, consume
Always forgetting time
Audacious also was Harry’s mind
Whose house this never was
1939 Anno 1982
Website Café Hoppe: https://cafehoppe.com/en
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