Amsterdam accommodation has always been in short supply, but all that may be set to change. Some of the best hotels in Amsterdam cluster around particular districts: the Museum Quarter and the Canals district have plenty, whereas the Pijp and Jordaan, alas, contain only a few hotels. A general rule of thumb has been to avoid those Amsterdam hotels near Central Station, but this may soon become a thing of the past: see the arrival of the swanky new art'otel just across the tracks.
Despite the downturn, new luxury hotels seem to be popping up everywhere recently. For example, Conservatorium is located in a former conservatory and Sir Albert in a former diamond factory. These two exhibit a local pattern whereby existing buildings are revamped in favour of construction from scratch. These hotels may well have been inspired by the earlier successes of former shipping office Grand Hotel Amrâth Amsterdam and former youth prison Lloyd Hotel. The management of the latter recently built on its success by opening a fashion hotel, The Exchange, in a prime central location where each room was designed by a local fashion designer.
One mid-market newcomer is the modern, multi-storey Mövenpick, which recently opened in the increasingly fashionable eastern docklands. Also close to Centraal Station, the rooftop bar of the DoubleTree by Hilton offers panoramic views over a city in which, contrary to popular belief, it can be pretty hard to get high.
The economy sector has been just as creative. After all, it's had to face some fierce competition from the likes of Airbnb and Couchsurfing which both proved popular in this town where its residents are both relaxed and hospitable. CitizenM - local folks with global ambitions - came up with their own unique solution: just stack up some shipping containers and rent them out as 'budget luxury' accommodation.
With water, water everywhere, it's only natural to want to float in Amsterdam. Unfortunately, there are surprisingly few options for a city awash with boat hotel potential. Amstel Botel, Ideaal II, Le Maroxidien and Frederic Rentabike are the best of the bunch. If you're looking for a houseboat to rent, check out www.houseboats.nl.
Amsterdam’s best budget hotels
Convenient for Centraal Station, the docklands and hops across to Noord, this a good bet if you're looking for good, clean accommodation with the odd frill, like free in-house movies. Unless you are fooled by their 'luxury' rooms boast and come expecting the QEII, you'll be perfectly satisfied. The bar has long opening hours (from 9am to after midnight) and games like pinball and pool, plus a jukebox - ideal for pacifying youngsters on rainy days. Be warned that major renovations in the area mean that views aren't quite as watery or relaxing as they have been.
If you're arriving in town late or leaving first thing, this place is ideal, not only because it's as close to the railway station as it's physically possible to be without actually being in it, but also because the bar is open 24 hours and breakfast begins at an eyelid-drooping 4am. There's no fancy business here - just the reliable Ibis formula of basic but comfortable rooms and reasonable facilities, plus their 'Fifteen Minute Satisfaction' promise: if a problem isn't sorted out in a quarter of an hour, your stay is free. Other branches of the Ibis hotel chain in Amsterdam are located at Valkenburgerstraat 68 (531 9135) near the Stopera, on Transformatorweg 36 (581 1111), and also at Schipholweg 181 (502 5100) in Badhoevedorp.
Welcome to the future of hotels: the shipping container at CitizenM. Due to the housing shortage in Amsterdam, local students have long been living in these humble units, but it's safe to say that CitizenM was the first initiative to utilise them as the basis for a 'budget luxury' designer hotel. CitizenM's initiator is Rattan Chadha, who left his role as founder and CEO of Amsterdam-based clothing chain Mexx to cover the globe with shipping container hotels. The first opened at Schiphol Airport in 2008 and was the result of a partnership with advertisers KesselsKramer, who commissioned local design gurus Concrete to style it, and Philips to do the technology. This newer branch, near the Zuidas business district, is on the outskirts of the city centre but is well served by public transport, meaning you can be in postcard territory within minutes. The idea was to strip things down to the bare essentials: 14 square-metre (150-square-foot) rooms are created and assembled off-site, and have wall-to-wall windows, a shower pod, a toilet pod, a king-size bed with luxury linens, flatscreen TV, and a 'mood pad', which controls all of the above plus the lights and temperature. The resulting accommodation is surprisingly comfortable. While the branding is aimed at the new young, global jet-set class, so far it seems that traditional business travellers are keen to make use of CitizenM in the name of taking advantage of a (relative) bargain. Meanwhile, if the lobby feels like a Vitra fur
Not so much a hostel, more a way of life, and a stalwart of the Interrailing scene. Young (they don't accept guests over 40 - or under 16) backpackers flock here from around the world, as much for the social life as the accommodation. You can see why: the hostel organises walking tours and in-line skating for free, and there are regular parties and cheap beer. There are branches near the Vondelpark and on the beach at Noordwijk-aan-Zee; the latter is open all year but comes in to its own in the summer, when water sports, beach activities and barbecues are the order of the day. A free shuttle bus ferries guests between the beach and uptown hostels for free.
Planning on immersing yourself in cannabis culture? Then this is just the place to rest your addled head. Perched above the coffeeshop of the same name on the fringes of the Red Light District, there are plenty of druggie draws in the area. Some rooms have shared facilities; several are kitted out in suitably trippy style with appropriate crazy names, like Mary Jane, Outer Space and Red Man, while others are just plain, old-fashioned nice, and overlook a canal. To take the edge off sore heads, breakfast is served until midday, and the attached bar has an all-day happy hour and arranges drum 'n' bass, reggae and also rare groove nights. Good if you're young and into smoking weed.
Amsterdam’s best mid-range hotels
It’s impossible to stay at The Hoxton without feeling an overwhelming urge to take every single part of it back home with you. By the end of our stay, my wishlist of things to buy when I got back to the UK included tables, chairs, telephones, tiles, the light above our bed and the loo roll holder in the bathroom. The whole place is like something out of Elle Decoration.
Right next to the green lungs of Amsterdam - the Vondelpark - the Marriott has just been given an overhaul, so it's goodbye to the dowdy green and brown gentleman's club styling and hello to soothing yellows and modern furnishings. All 392 rooms now come equipped with Revive beds, six pillows plus luxurious linen and duvets. Bathrooms have gone similarly upmarket too, with cherry wood and granite surfaces and cascade showerheads.
Another multi-purpose venue, these beautiful buildings were once an orphanage, before changing into a youth hostel. From there, it was only a short step to becoming a trendy hotel, bar and restaurant. Big city folk, used to long treks, will laugh at its accessibility, but Amsterdammers tend to forego the small detour eastwards, making it hard for the Arena to truly kick clubbing butt - monthlies like Salsa Lounge, with its sweltering Latin bias, and '80s Verantwoord are the exceptions.
Big, tall and glamorous, this stripy, stone-coloured hotel is brand spanking new and a great base for exploring the Waterfront and Noord on the banks opposite. Rooms are decorated in soothing greys and woods; pricier ones grant access to an executive lounge - free cocktails included - and have great views over the cruise liners ploughing through the waters, or over the city's rooftops.
A stalwart of the city hotel scene, the Victoria has recently been spruced up; the public areas (including lobby and bar) of this 300-roomed hotel opposite Centraal Station now look very dapper indeed, decked out in browns, creams and reds. Rooms themselves are of a good size, and come with all the expected trappings. A big plus is the excellent health club and pool, both open to non-guests for a fee.
This medium-sized, 32-roomed building is ideally located for canal and Jordaan strolls and for arrival and departure by train - it's a five-minute walk from the station, and right next door to the beautiful, domed Koepel church. Inside its 17th-century walls, rooms are plain and furnished in a modern, basic style; they are generally clean and tidy, and all are en-suite. Front-facing rooms have been known to get noisy due to their proximity to the nightlife.
Amsterdam’s best boutique hotels
One of the city's most stylish secrets, this place - complete with spa and a wine bar - is just a kitten-heeled skip away from the designer shops of PC Hooftstraat. Rooms are slickly done out in chocolate and caramel tones, with designer touches and wall-mounted CD players, and are something of a bargain for a place boasting these looks and facilities.
This rather well-kept secret of a hotel is the opposite of the grand gestures of the Amstel hotel, and the epitome of understated glamour. It's a small, flower-filled building that places emphasis on searching the globe for the best accoutrements - linens from the USA, bespoke blankets from Wales, box-spring mattresses from London. There is afternoon tea every day, and a patio for summer breakfasts or general lounging. Guests are the type that shed their euros on antiques in the Spiegelkwartier.
This former youth prison has been re-invented as one- to five-star accommodation complete with a new 'cultural embasssy'. Fitting in nicely in this harbour neighbourhood which has always been famed for its modern residential architecture, Lloyd features the work of hotshot Dutch designers, Atelier van Lieshout and Marcel Wanders.
Another hidden gem near museums and upmarket shopping opportunities, this thoroughly chic place is covered with art and boasts a lovely decked garden. Rooms, ranging from small to huge along with a junior and family suite, are thoroughly designer driven, with Burberry-checked blankets, chandeliers and swanky bathrooms. Unusually for such a trendy hotel, families are positively encouraged, which marks it out from snootier establishments.
Outrageous elegance are the key words here. Guests are made to feel like superstars - even the odd bona fide star drops in from time to time too - and lodge in colour-coded chromatherapy rooms designed to enhance the mood, like zingy raspberry, Zen-like black or toasty turmeric. Every detail, from chef Dennis Kuipers' North African-inspired menu to the careful alignment of the cushions in the public areas, is well thought through by the owners.
Amsterdam’s best luxury hotels
This literary hotel arranged across ten canal houses is the place to bump in to your favourite author. Staff are discreet and attentive, and rooms - which stretch from single to suite to apartment - are decorated in Louis Quatorze style. Naturally there's a library, only begun in 1987, whose countless shelves are stuffed with signed tomes by illustrious previous guests, which residents are free to peruse.
A stone’s throw from Amsterdam’s central Museumplein is this grand hotel. Occupying the site of a former music school (hence its name), the Conservatorium is part of The Set group of high-end lodgings. Rooms, all 129 of which are decorated in simple, elegant style that highlights the original late 19th century Dutch features, range from luxe to mindblowing. Into the latter category fall the Grand Duplex Suites, some of which boast a vast window overlooking the vast atrium – excellent for people-watching. These rooms are split into two separate spaces, with your sleeping area located upstairs, on a mezzanine.
A dazzling art nouveau monument that's looking extra spruce now that a fountain has been added to its terrace, the public areas here - like the magnificently buttressed Café Americain - are all eye-pleasers. Rooms, though - even the deluxe ones - are pretty cramped, though they've all got good views, either on to the canal or the bustling square below. Some have their own balcony. Suites are spacious, and all the accommodation is decorated in smart-but-bland standard hotel fittings.
The Grand Hotel Amrâth Amsterdam occupies the fabulous structure on Prins Hendrikkade known locally as the Scheepvaarthuis or 'Maritime House'. It was on this building that many of the greatest names in Dutch modernism cut their teeth, and from which the signature flowing lines of the architectural style gained a named: the Amsterdam School. On the very spot where Cornelis Houtman and Peter de Keyser set off for the East Indies on 10 March 1595 (opening the chapter on Dutch maritime dominance), construction work began, in 1913, on grand headquarters for a number of major shipping lines, designed by Johan van der Mey – a complete unknown who would, in fact, turn out to be a bit of a one-hit wonder. The same can't be said for those who worked with him: Piet Kramer would later design more than 400 of the city's bridges and Michel de Klerk would come up with Het Schip in Westerpark. The extraordinary carvings on the façade of nautical motifs and Dutch explorers were the second commission for Hildo Krop, soon to make his mark as official city sculptor.
Steeped in centuries of history, this hotel began life as a staging post for royals in the Golden Age, and has also been Amsterdam's town hall. Near the epicentre of the Red Light District, guests nevertheless feel like they've been whisked a million miles away from the risqué surroundings the moment they step into the luxurious courtyard.
This multi-storey, multi-tasking and very smart business-class stopover (the choice of Japan Airlines) has everything captains of industry need: a top-floor, top-of-the-range French restaurant, Le Ciel Bleu; a full-size pool and health club (open to non-guests); state-of-the-art conference facilities; and sushi bars. Rooms offer no surprises in terms of facilities - they've got the lot - or looks. They're done up in suitably masculine style and range from small standards to the huge (and, as such, hugely expensive) Presidential Suite on the 21st floor.