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10 of the best insider’s tips to Amsterdam

With tickets for Eurostar’s direct service to Amsterdam launching on 20 February, we pick some of the city’s best restaurants, parks and cultural attractions away from the tourist centre

Amsterdam’s reputation for stag dos, spliff and sex tourism belies the rich pickings beyond Dam Square. Described by locals as a village, Amsterdam has the arts, entertainment and startup scene of many larger cities but retains a friendly and relaxed atmosphere. As a resident, I love that all my favourite places are just a short journey away. The vibe is laid-back and the dress code avoids the stiff chic of more status-conscious cities: the rule is, if you can’t cycle in it, don’t wear it. From picturesque narrow streets of higgledy-piggledy houses to sweaty techno nights in converted factories, this city reveals its many faces to those willing to stray from the tourist hotspots.

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From friendly locals to Harry Potter’s house: a brief guide to Lavenham

The Suffolk town’s beauty apparently saved Andrew Lloyd Webber from thoughts of suicide. What makes it so special?

‘Thank God for Lavenham,” writes Andrew Lloyd Webber in his new memoir. The composer says that, as a depressed 15-year-old, he bought painkillers and a one-way ticket to the end of the London underground, then a bus to the former wool town. It was the beauty of Lavenham’s buildings and its Grade I-listed church that saved him from thoughts of suicide.

Music fans have got this beautiful village in the heart of Suffolk to thank for Aspects of Love and Cats. But what makes it so good?

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