Expat told “western” cooking only if she wants a rental apartment in Amsterdam

Good value rental apartments in Amsterdam are rarer than seeing a group of Dutch women not wearing sneakers. Due to the double whammy of the growth of Airbnb usage and rising property prices, renting in Amsterdam is now generally hideously expensive. Demand significantly outstrips supply, which leads to some landlords not only charging outrageous rents but also setting ludicrous conditions.

Overpriced rental apartments in Amsterdam ridiculous demands from owners

A rental apartment in Amsterdam made international news recently. It wasn’t due to any of the following:

  • Being overpriced
  • Being so small that mice would suffer from claustrophobia
  • Not allowing more than two visitors at a time

In fact, the apartment made international news for not allowing the tenant to cook in the kitchen.

Just when I thought I’d seen it all

The Shallow Man has lived in Amsterdam for over 13 years. I’ve heard many a horror story about the hoops that expats and foreign students have to jump through in order to get a room or rental apartments in Amsterdam, but what I’m about to tell you is a new all-time low. I’ve often said that Dutch tolerance is a myth or a clever PR campaign to attract foreign money.

When discussing tolerantie with the locals I’m often told that as Amsterdam has 180 nationalities living together in relative harmony that this is proof of how tolerant the Dutch are. “In Amsterdam, we accept people from everywhere”. As if other cities in the Netherlands operate a strict exclusion zone for foreigners. However, I digress. Here is a classic example of intolerance and rudeness that leaves me shocked and annoyed.

Cook the “western” way for a rental apartment in Amsterdam

A lady that just moved to Amsterdam, contacts a rental agency about an apartment.  She asks for more details and arranges to view the apartment only to receive the response below.

Rental apartments in Amsterdam sometimes require western way of cooking only

Lekker tolerant!


Asian woman told to cook in a western way only

Western cooking only???

It’s a misunderstanding!

The message was shared on social media and went viral. In fact, at the time of writing, it’s been featured in both the national media and covered by foreign media outlets as well.

When interviewed by local media outlet AT5.nl the owner of the rental agency responsible for sending the message had the following to say:

“EHR helpt in Amsterdam voornamelijk expats aan een huurwoning. ‘De tekst in de e-mail mag nooit gezien worden als een vorm van discriminatie. Zo is het niet bedoeld.’

“EHR helps mainly expats in Amsterdam to find rental apartments. The text in the email must not be seen as a form of discrimination.”

The response is typical of the Dutch way of dealing with allegations of discrimination. In the Netherlands, you can say the most outrageous racially insulting things, that’s fine, as long as when confronted with this behavior that you respond by saying, “dat was niet de bedoeling”. Or better said, if the intent wasn’t to offend, then it can’t possibly be offensive. (Don’t mention Zwarte Piet).  The Dutch are lekker direct.  

Since publishing this article, the owner of the apartment has confirmed that at no point did she instruct EHR Amsterdam that only western style cooking was allowed.

So there you have it

It was a misunderstanding. After all western food never smells. Deep fried bitterballen, frikandel, fish and chips, Italian food, French, German and many others are odorless delights. It’s only non-western food that smells. A big thank you for EHR Amsterdam for pointing that out.

No bigoted real estate agents were hurt during the writing of this post.

Until next time, rot op met je discriminatie!