From picturesque windmills twirling in the hills to sailboats floating along the Maas, The Netherlands truly has an air of luxury blowing throughout.

Despite the ever-confusing designation debacle this petite country imposes on tourists and locals alike (i.e., do you call it the Netherlands or Holland?), there’s nothing complicated about the luxurious lifestyle the Dutch have distinguished for themselves.

Officially named the Kingdom of the Netherlands, most Dutch refer to the country as Holland, an endearing name that pays homage to the two provinces that together made the country so prosperous in the 17th century. Since that time, Holland has been the home for numerous nobles, royals, and equally as virtuous countrymen who have taken great pride in preserving this country’s famed extravagance.

That same air of luxury that wafted through the centuries of Holland’s glittering past quite literally breezes through every aspect of this country to this day. Whether it’s as the powerful force behind one of the more than 1,000 historic and modern windmills and turbines scattered across the country or the gentle wind that trickles through the open air art markets at Artplein Spui (www.artpleinspui.org) in Amsterdam where collectors can buy works directly from the artists themselves every Sunday from March through December.

Although the modern day monarchy claims The Hague (www.denhaag.nl/en.htm) as their home base, no two cities offer a more quintessential Dutch luxury experience better than Amsterdam and Rotterdam. From exploring the postmodern metropolis of Amsterdam to strolling the streets of the artsy port city of Rotterdam, here are some great places to wine, dine, shop and stay in either of these swanky cities.

AMSTERDAM

As the capital city, any trip to the Netherlands would be amiss without a visit to the bustling metropolis of Amsterdam. It’s here that a series of intricate, UNESCO World Heritage-listed canals lined with bike paths and cobbled roadways guide visitors through the city’s storied past.

The city was founded as a fishing village during the 12th century, but quickly became a major hub for commerce (namely the diamond trade) during the Dutch Golden Age. The city’s precious history of luxury and extravagance hasn’t been lost over the years, despite times of war and economic crisis, and has actually increased throughout recent decades with the opening of countless fashion houses, opulent hotels, Michelin-starred restaurants, museums, and more.

It’s this city’s historic vibe—which all at once gives a nod to both post-WWII and the 17th century—that makes Amsterdam a very fitting destination with house gems like the Van Gogh Museum (www.vangoghmuseum.nl), the Rijksmuseum (www.rijksmuseum.nl)—home of original works from Rembrandt and Vermeer—the Kroller-Müller Museum (www.kmm.nl), the Anne Frank House (www.annefrank.org) and many more. While Amsterdam boasts the highest museum density in the world, it also maintains its progressive 21st century identity by laying claim to some of the most avant-garde names in fashion, like Viktor & Rolf (www.viktor-rolf.com) and Iris van Herpen (www.irisvanherpen.com), as well as concept stores like By AMFI (www.amfi.nl/byamfi) and Young Designers United (www.ydu.nl).

For a full immersion into Amsterdam’s characteristic old and new world style, a stay at The Dylan Amsterdam (www.dylanamsterdam.com) is a must. This boutique hotel sits right along the Keizersgracht canals and dates back to 1613 where this amazing building stood as a series of canal houses before being renovated and reopened as a luxury boutique hotel in 1999. This hotel is within walking distance to the best shopping at The Nine Streets as well as the famous floating flower markets, and is home to the exquisite Restaurant Vinkeles (www.vinkeles.com), the Michelin-starred French restaurant run by Executive Chef Dennis Kuipers. Set in a former bakery, this sunken dining room is the perfect spot to taste the region’s most pure ingredients prepared with a fresh twist.

Just three canals over lies yet another fantastic gastronomic experience where Executive Chef de Cuisine Richard van Oostenbrugge takes his patrons on a culinary journey at his Michelin-starred restaurant, Bord’Eau (www.bordeau.nl).

This intimate restaurant is a favorite among locals and foreign critics alike, and offers an amazing library of some of the finest wines around the world and transports guests to the real Amsterdam with stunning views of the Amstel River. This very exclusive restaurant is tucked deep inside one of the most elegant hotels in the city, Hotel De L’Europe (www.leurope.nl).

Opened in 1896, this grand hotel is a 25-year-member of Leading Hotels of the World, and is often referred to at the “Royal Palace of Amsterdam,” and has seen its fair share of celebrity and royal guests throughout the decades. De L’Europe recently underwent a €61 million restoration where each of the 111 guest rooms (including 42 palatial suites) were updated to the utmost in opulence and feature the private collection of Dutch Master Alfred “Freddy” Heineken.

ROTTERDAM

Rotterdam is a city that never ceases to amaze and surprise both its residents and visitors alike. ~ is artsy city is the largest port in Europe and the second-biggest city in Holland. Often referred to as the “Gateway to Europe” and the “Manhattan on the Maas,” Rotterdam’s soaring skyline is refreshingly metropolitan and is a tourist attraction in itself with architect aficionados trekking to this mecca just to see structures like the Cube Houses (www.kubuswoning.nl), the Witte Huis (www.grandcafehetwittehuis.nl) and the Euromast (www.euromast.nl).

The vibe from this city is one of extreme pride mixed with a healthy competition for its neighbor to the north, Amsterdam, with locals often joking that “if Amsterdam has it, Rotterdam doesn’t need it.” And what it does have … is plenty.

Plenty of museums, from the the Museum Boijmans-van Beuningen (www.boijmans.nl/en), which holds a trove from the old Dutch masters to the Kunsthal (www.kunsthal.nl), a building designed by Rem Koolhaas that houses revolving exhibits.

And plenty of shopping, whether it’s along the super sleek Koopgoot (formerly the Beurstraverse) street located below street level with tons of high end fashion stores and boutique shops, or the cool and sophisticated squares of Nieuwmarkt and Meent that stand as hotspots for fashion, design and décor.

For the unique taste of luxury in Rotterdam, the Hotel New York (www.hotelnewyork.nl/en) actually offers an authentic Holland experience for visitors. Even with a name like the Hotel New York, this hotel’s special link with America doesn’t take away from the authentic Dutch experience, as this was the former terminal of the Holland America Line. Although the high ceilings, wrought iron staircase, and robust pillars remain from the former port edifice, the rest of the hotel has been transformed into a boutique beauty with a highly renowned afternoon tea.

The recently opened five-star hotel, Hotel Mainport (www.mainporthotel.com), is another great option for guests seeking the more luxurious side of Rotterdam’s modern superfluity. This hotel claims to be more of a lifestyle choice than a mere place to lay your head, and proves its point by offering a spa with a traditional Hamam, skyline views of the city, cooking parties, spa suites with private saunas and Jacuzzis and water taxi services.

For a romantic dinner out, the Michelin-starred Restaurant Fred (www.restaurantfred.nl) offers a literally golden experience for diners, from gold-speckled ceilings and glimmering walls to a true treasure of a tasting menu created by one of Holland’s most celebrated chefs, Fred Mustert.

While Restaurant Fred treats foodies to a delightful round of classic dishes, more adventurous diners generally head to In de Keuken van Floris (www.indekeukenvanfloris.nl). This international/fusion cuisine restaurant is designed for diners with few limitations when it comes to food and who are open to surprises. Everything at In de Keuken van Floris is about the taste sensation, and the only option is whether or not you want the optimal wine pairings with your nine course, chef-inspired, fixed menu where the preparation of each dish is done at the center of the restaurant while waiters explain the course and wine pairing.