First Published: September 2003
       This is an OutUK Archive Item and so some of the links and information may be out of date.
2-person King Size bed with leather bedspread. Rubber floor. Exposed beams. Bathroom with 2-seater whirlpool bathtub plus separate shower. Colour TV and video. Sling and hoist. Direct dial telephone with voice mail. Bondage chair. Fully stocked Minibar. Welded steel cage. Period fireplace. Fisting stool. Tea and coffee making facilities.
Not, granted, your average hotel room. But as the above website description suggests, The Black Tulip is not your average hotel. It’s not every hotel that offers boot rental, douche nozzles and souvenir tulip-shaped butt plugs.

It’s also not every hotel that offers breakfast for ‘surprise’ guests who may have stayed the night, a waiter in full leathers and a fetish-inspired interpretation of Rembrandt’s ‘The Nightwatch’ on the wall, as Steve Bustin discovers for OutUK.

Boot hire is available for those travelling light.
No hotel in Amsterdam is going to get upset if you waltz through the lobby in your finest cowhides, but the Black Tulip is something a little different from the norm. It is actually a fantastic hotel: standards of décor, attention to detail and facilities that would put most hotels to shame.
Surprisingly, there is no dresscode; you’re not expected to wear leathers to breakfast, although the sight of two leathermen tapping away on the shells of their freshly boiled eggs is quite something. There is also no attitude. A truly international clientele are friendly, chatty, and as interested in which galleries you’ve been to as which leather bars.

As you might expect, there are some charming quirks. For instance, don’t expect to be able to borrow an iron or ironing board; after all, leather doesn’t need ironing. Also, be sure to stick to the ‘No Crisco’ rule – apparently it leaves a distinctive smell, and ruins the towels. Lying on the bed you suddenly realise you can’t see the TV, because the sling is in the way. Isn’t life a bitch?

Relaxing at The Black Tulip.
The leather scene in Amsterdam is becoming larger and more visible than the Soho-style scene. Warmoesstraat is definitely the ‘leather drag’ in more ways than one, playing host to several bars, clubs and shops catering to the fetish crowd. It’s not uncommon to see leather guys out day and night, and the straight crowds heading towards the red light district barely raise an eyebrow.
Mr B, at 89 Warmoesstraat, is a fetish emporium par excellence. It’s so big they ought to have shopping trolleys. It has, in stark contrast to similar shops in Britain, large plate glass windows, giving it a light, airy and, most importantly, welcoming feel. Browsing for a while? They’ll offer you a coffee while you do so. Not sure if that cockring would fit? You can try it on, in the ex-pissoir that acts as a changing room. You can purchase anything from a pair of rubber shorts to a leather bodybag, and if you don’t see what you want, they’ll make it for you specially. Cockring doesn't fit, Sir? It'll ride up with wear.
A night on the Amsterdam leather scene starts late, and follows quite a prescribed pattern. Kick off the evening across Damrak at The Web or the quaintly named Cuckoo's Nest, which apparently has the largest backroom in Europe (they even publish a map of it on their website). Then come back to Warmoesstraat and hit The Argos, then cross the road to The Eagle. Some leather boys happily spend all evening shuttling back and forth between the two, although anyone heading straight to the backroom in either venue without stopping to buy at least one beer is likely to incur the wrath of the (very hunky) barman. If you’ve still got the energy, The Cockring provides a heaving dance floor as well as yet another heaving backroom, and is open until 4AM.

Anyone used to the leather & rubber scene in the UK will find the fetish bars in Amsterdam far friendlier than they are back home. The dress-codes tend to be less strict, although if you haven’t made an effort, don’t expect attention. On a Saturday night, bars like The Argos are packed to the rafters with hot men, all looking to get hotter in the darkness downstairs, but more than prepared to chat upstairs. And don’t be surprised to see more than one leather queen singing along to showtunes at The Cuckoo's Nest.

Amsterdam has always had a certain reputation among gay men. Mention that you’re going for a weekend and you’ll be met with knowing smiles and an acknowledgement that you’re not going to study the windmills. Add leather to the equation and for some Amsterdam is approaching Mecca in importance. If you’re a leather virgin, take the opportunity to explore. If leather already wraps your heart, you may just find your spiritual & sexual home.

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