Drawn to the picturesque canals, famous art museums and lurid nightlife, visitors to Amsterdam now outnumber residents like me 10:1, creating a demand for overnight accommodation that is hard to supply. This, coupled with an embargo on hotel building, has seen the price of a hotel room creep up across the city.
But as the capsule hotel concept takes root here and some cool new budget chains come to town, affordable options are emerging. Travel low season, go small, or stay a bit further out, and you can still grab stylish, low-cost accommodation within easy travelling distance of the main attractions. Here are my best budget picks.
Neighbourhood: De Pijp
The target market of this three-star-superior hotel is 30-something video gamers and comic enthusiasts who refuse to grow up – and with a 24/7 bar and gaming consoles (one modern, one vintage) in every room, it’s late bedtimes all round. The 42-room, two-year-old hotel hosts gaming workshops and tournaments and is popular with celebrity gamers from around the world. Six-player teams can play in the Game Room, which has a virtual reality rig and two 65-inch screens. When the neon lights and media walls of the hotel get too much, escape to the landscaped Sarphatipark opposite, where overgrown kids can go for a secret smoke. If you’re a gamer, you’ll get it. If not, it’s still a good value option in a lively but leafy district a short tram ride from the centre. Breakfast is €10 if booked in advance.
Doubles from €70, room only
Best for cool design close to the music venues: Jaz Amsterdam
Not everyone would choose to sleep in a building wedged between Amsterdam’s biggest music venues, but if you’ve got tickets for the gig, it’s perfect. Catering to the cool crowd, this music-themed hotel features artistic, urban design and a lively agenda, making it a more happening and stylish choice than the nearby Easy Hotel (from €69) – though both favour orange decor. The Rhythms Bar and Kitchen is the hotel’s social hub and is open for lunch and dinner, serving mainly salads, burgers and booze to a soundtrack of resident DJs and live music. Breakfast is €15. Bijlmer itself is a bit of a concrete jungle but the historic centre is just a 20-minute metro ride away.
Doubles from €100, room only
Best for design enthusiasts: Hotel Dwars
Neighbourhood: Eastern Canal District
This exceedingly narrow, nine-room hotel in a cute side street is a super find if you don’t mind climbing a few stairs. Sleeping two, three or four, the lovingly decorated rooms are a delectable, tactile combination of repurposed materials, vintage finds and modern pieces styled by the design team at Things I like Things I love. The eclectic Utrechtsestraat high street around the corner has survived excessive touristification and is full of interesting independent shops, cool restaurants, trendy homeware stores and smart boutiques. The hotel does not offer breakfast but there are lots of good cafes nearby.
Doubles from €100, room only
Neighbourhood: Museum District
Quirky but lovely, this friendly hotel sleeps its guests, not in rooms, but in neighbouring sound-proofed ‘bedstees’ – beds in a cupboard as Dutch countryfolk once slept. Luggage has to be stored separately and the bathrooms are shared, but you get affordable accommodation with bags of character in an upscale part of town just five minutes’ walk from the art museums and the Concertgebouw. Downstairs, there’s a cosy bar with stained-glass windows, an art deco fireplace and an explosion of colourful felt wallpaper and velvet furnishings. Breakfast (from €7.25) is a five-minute walk away at café Bagels & Beans.
Doubles from €55, room only
Best for friendly, fuss-free accommodation near the centre: Motel One, Waterlooplein
Neighbourhood: Nieuwmarkt en Lastage
This modern hotel has the rather uniform, ‘airport’ feel typical of a large chain but is enlivened, in the lobby at least, by some funky upcycled décor by Dutch designer Piet Hein Eek. It is immaculate throughout and offers functional, no-frills accommodation walking distance from cultural hotspots such as the Dutch National Opera and Ballet and the Rembrandt House; and family favourites NEMO, the science museum, and Artis, the zoo. Breakfast is €11.50. Superior rooms have a sofa bed and can sleep three. Avoid if you don’t like turquoise – it’s everywhere.
Doubles from €104, room only
Neighbourhood: Oud West
Getting into one of the compact, L-shaped pods at CityHub is like boarding a futuristic sleeper train – only quieter, due to the soundproofing. Yes, it’s so tiny that you can only stand at one end, luggage needs to go in an external locker, and the washrooms are shared; but the typical guest here spends most of their time exploring the city: the hip, rapidly gentrifying area on the doorstep with its food hall, cinema and market and the centre, a 15-minute walk east. A mobile app connects guests with other travellers and with a 24-hour duty host who can offer advice and redirect you if you’re lost. Breakfast is €10 at the breakfast club café a few doors down.
Doubles from €60, room only
Best for all-night partying: Hotel CC
Neighbourhood: Red Light District
If you can get past the crowds and through the front door, this three-star, 81-room hotel offers decent, well-kept accommodation in the heart of the action. The black, grey and white colour scheme is unadventurous and the furniture mostly plastic, but it’s the central location most people are here for. 21 rooms have a canal view at no extra cost – you just have to know to ask. Most of the others face the busy Warmoesstraat, lined with touristy shops and bars, and are – fortunately – double-glazed. For groups, there are two triple rooms and three quads. A cooked or continental breakfast is available at nearby restaurant Da Giorgio for €10.
Doubles from €110, room only
Best for on-site entertainment: The Volkshotel
Neighbourhood: Amsterdam Oost
It would be easy to mistake this large, buzzing hotel for a student union as there’s pretty much everything you need on-site, from hairdressing to yoga – and the styling (repurposed vintage, industrial piping, concrete walls) clearly caters to a hip, young crowd. By day, the lobby is full of creative types with laptops; by night, the whole building comes alive, with everything from dining and clubbing to pop-up ping-pong and life drawing. Did I mention they have hot tubs on the roof? The individually themed, unconventionally styled bedrooms will gratify artists but turn off traditionalists. When you eventually venture out, the metro stop outside will have you in the centre in under 10 minutes. Breakfast is €12.
Doubles from €69, room only
For those unfazed by industrial landscapes and a more isolated location, this brand new, millennial-focused Marriott spin-off in the newly developed harbour area west of the centre is a canny find. Rooms have minimal storage but a smart, sleek decor, while communal areas have fun design features such as hanging chairs and corrugated steel walls – a nod to the district’s shipping history. Rent a bike from the hotel (€15 per day) and the centre is just 10 minutes away. When you’ve explored enough, head home and enjoy the hotel’s gym and pool – a surprisingly un-budget bonus. Breakfast is €10.
Doubles from €99, room only
A pink and yellow colour scheme does not normally scream corporate, but this cheerful hotel sits in the heart of Amsterdam’s World Trade Centre and is, therefore, popular with business visitors who want to roll out of bed and into work. With excellent travel links to the airport and the city centre, it’s also ideal for tourists in search of a bargain. The rather stark rooms are dominated by a futuristic, cuboid bedroom and bathroom complex in the middle. It’s fun and original but not everyone will be at ease with the open-plan toilet and shower. Some rooms look into the atrium of one of the office complexes: a further opportunity for spying. A continental buffet breakfast costs €13.50.
Doubles from €48, room only