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Why couldn't I get tap water in Amsterdam Restaurants?

Recently, in meals in 3 different restaurants in Amsterdam, I requested tap water and was told I couldn't have it--only bottled water.

Can anyone explain this to me? I found it extremely annoying.

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  1. Did you ask why? I can only get bottled water, with or without gas, in Rio. And while I've not made a study of it in Europe that seems to be the case there also.

    7 Replies
    1. re: c oliver

      it is not a "habit" to ask for tap water in restaurants in Europe - it sends a very bad message about you if you do so - like: why on Earth did you come in if you can't even afford to buy water

      also you would not order bottled water either, but wine or juice or other beverages

      1. re: hovirag

        What if you want all of the above? Beer, wine, and a bloody carafe or glass of tap to go with it? It's ridiculous.

        1. re: hovirag

          ' why on Earth did you come in if you can't even afford to buy water'

          Really, l don't think so.
          Get water by carafe all over France, Belgium, Spain, etc. with no trouble or grief. Usually get a bottle of sparkling and a carafe of plain.

          1. re: Delucacheesemonger

            I have it in mind that, in France, it used to be the case that a request for tap water could to legally be refused. Perhaps that's still the case.

            1. re: Harters

              I'm afraid you are incorrect. There has been a law passed in 1967 in France that guests in restaurants and caf├ęs have the right to free tap water, bread, spices, etc. New laws have passed in 1987 and 1990 that tap water remains free unless the establishment posts clear signs on the menu as well as in the establishment both inside and outside. In practice, however, guests normally get free tap water with their meal.

              In the UK, establishments that serve alcohol are required to serve free tap water.

              As I and the others have pointed out the headline by the OP is completely incorrect.

              1. re: ThomasvanDale

                Thanks for the clarificatiobn - and apologies for the typo in my post which may have suggested that I thought that a request could be refused . I should have typed "could not legally be refused", rather than the gibberish I posted as "could to legally be refused".

                I'm British and living in the UK, but I had never heard that there was a legal requirement here for alcohol serving places to serve free tap water. I see that the new law came into force in 2010.

                1. re: Harters

                  No problem. I'm happy I could be helfpul.

      2. they want to make money.

        tap water costs money too, but in restaurants they sell catering size bottled water.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Pata_Negra

          Yes, making money is the obvious answer. Still, this was so blatant, it was ...well, tacky? Off-putting?

          I disagree with hovirag re asking for water in rests. I always drink water in restaurants (and perhaps as well beer or wine), and throughout the world, this is the first experience I have ever had being refused!

          1. re: Howard_2

            I haven't been to Amsterdam in a very long time, but don't remember this happening. I would have been very annoyed. We rarely order bottled water, and have found tap water in Europe to be generally fine.

            In France, we almost always ask for "une carafe d'eau avec des glacons" and have never been refused or made to feel uncomfortable.

            I'm really curious whether this is standard practice in Amsterdam restaurants.

        2. Maybe the water tastes bad in Amsterdam ?? I know it tastes bad in Hamburg...

          Here in Austria tap water usually is fresh mountain spring water, and tastes excellent. Therefore people love to ask for - free - tap water, and many places will put a carafe of cool and fresh tap water on your table even before you are ordering. OTOH some restaurants owners feel cheated, and started to charge for tap water, and at an astonishingly high rate, e.g. 2.50 EUR for half a liter at Cafe Landtmann ! The cafe owner stated that he had been serving more tap water than coffee, and that the glass of water still comes free with every cup of coffee...

          Another story: the city of Venice is even propagating the serving of free tap water at restaurants, in order to reduce the amount of used PET bottles which have to be removed daily with a great amount of work from the streets and canals: http://www.businessweek.com/ap/financ...

          1. I am from Amsterdam and the answer is really quite simple: the restaurants you went to are probably all tourist restaurants: in the city center, probably serve foreign food and have English language websites.

            I eat out here fairly often and never have a problem getting tap water.

            1. You must be facetious. We've been in Amsterdam now for five days now and for every lunch and dinner we have requested tap water and voila tap water it is. Absolutely no problem. The Bar Americain, The Seafood Bar, Divan, etc., etc., no problem.

              1. I had tap water in Amsterdam just 3 days ago, as well as in other restaurants across England, France, Belgium, and the Netherlands.

                They don't automatically bring it, but brought me multiple glasses upon request.

                1. It's simply not part of the culture. Unlike restaurants in N-America or the UK where water is always offered for free (often even before you order). Most people at home will also drink bottled water though tap water is perfectly fine to drink. Luckily this attitude is changing.
                  The price of bottled water (or pop or soda drinks) used to be on par with beer (at least in Belgium). So there was no reason to order water really. :-) But with more DUI awareness and health consienceness people it is simply a way for the industry to continue to make money on drink orders.
                  It's a cultural difference, just accept it. What you might consider to be part of the service is not the case there. At least you don't have to tip 10-20% on your drinks/food at the end of the ride.
                  I've lived for the past 7 years in Canada and the UK and have enjoyed free tap water with my meals. Honestly I think it's brilliant. But whenever I go back to my home country Belgium I don't think much of it. But times are changing, recently the Belgian King was offered tap water at a reception (and not bottled water) and more and more people feel that tap water should be included (for any dutch speakers: http://www.demorgen.be/dm/nl/2461/Opi...)

                  1. In some restuarants you get it and it some you do not, because like every entrepeneur they have to earn money. If you say "I would like to have tapwater, and i want to pay for it" they cannot refuse.

                    Because the tapwater is so good in Holland, there is a campaign called KRNWTR (tapwater in Dutch) to get tapwater in the Netherlands on the menu. See http://www.krnwtr.nl they also have an app with tapwater-friendly and unfriendly restaurants.