Accommodations for Every Budget in 7 Cool Neighborhoods
Amsterdam’s accommodation options range from hostel dorms to posh suites in converted canal mansions. Quirkier alternatives include rooms and suites on houseboats, moored boats, and even a crane overlooking the IJ.
In a city where tourists can outnumber hotel rooms (especially from April–September and during the year-end holidays), booking ahead is essential if you’re looking for accommodations in a prime location, close to major attractions. Many hotels are booked months in advance, meaning a little planning can save headaches (and euros).
Planning ahead also can maximize your time in the city if you consider what you want to see before booking accommodations. While Amsterdam’s public transport is excellent and its small size facilitates walking, reserving a room in the Museum Quarter makes sense if you plan to spend the bulk of your time wandering through repositories of world-class art on Museumplein. For a more bohemian vibe, head for Amsterdam-Noord. Or reserve a room in the Oud-West or De Pijp if you’d rather be amongst locals than tourists.
Whatever your itinerary, here are some of the best accommodations for every budget in seven of Amsterdam’s coolest neighborhoods.
#1. CENTRUM/CANAL RING
Amsterdam’s historic center radiates from Dam Square, where a dam kept the city from flooding in the 13th century. Now a stage for celebrations, street entertainment and social activism, it’s also where Atlas hoists the universe atop the Royal Palace, symbolizing the city’s 17th-century world dominance. Once occupied by Napoleon, it’s the only palace in the Netherlands that’s both open to the public and still used for royal receptions.
De Nieuwe Kerk (The New Church), where King Willem-Alexander married Maxima and was crowned the Netherlands’ first king in a century, sits on one side of Dam Square. On the opposite edge, the 800-year-old Oude Kerk (Old Church) presides over prostitute windows and the rowdy bars of De Wallen, known to tourists as the Red Light District. One of the oldest, most beautiful parts of the city is punctuated with coffeeshops and peep shows, interspersed with fine restaurants, a craft brewery, and a secret Catholic church that’s now the Museum Ons’ Lieve Heer Op Solder. Nearby is Zeedijk, Amsterdam’s Chinatown, home to Asian restaurants, gay bars, eclectic shops, and the Fo Kuang Shan Buddhist temple.
Amsterdam’s 400+-year-old, UNESCO-recognized Grachtengordel also incorporates NEMO Science Museum, lively Nieuwmarkt Square, the boutique-lined Negen Straatjes (Nine Streets), and Spui, an entertainment square surrounded by shops and restaurants.
St. Christophers Inn at The Winston: Bunk up in a dorm or reserve a private room at this spirited hostel on buzzing Warmoesstraat, where accommodations are basic, but the nightlife rocks. If sleep is a priority, St. Christophers might not be for you, considering its sometimes rowdy bar, beer garden and indoor smoking area complete with pool table. A continental breakfast is available, WiFi is free, and guests receive 25% discount on food at the onsite Belushi’s bar and restaurant, plus two-for-one drink deals.
The Exchange: Fashion meets interior design in this hotel overlooking Amsterdam’s early 20th-century stock exchange. Minutes from Dam Square and the shops on Kalverstraat, The Exchange offers one- to five-star rooms, each outfitted as if it were a body by Amsterdam Fashion Institute designers. Satellite TV, 24-hour reception, ticket service and an all-day breakfast at the onsite Stock café make it a comfortable choice in the heart of the city.
Sofitel Legend The Grand: You might not expect such grand accommodations on the edge of Amsterdam’s Red Light District, but this five-star hotel lives up to its name with spacious (by Amsterdam standards) rooms with bathroom TVs and canal or courtyard views. For true luxury, opt for one of 52 suites that include butler service. Historic ambiance meets French elegance at Michelin-star Bridges, one of the city’s best seafood restaurants. Also onsite is a spa with a heated indoor pool, sauna, Turkish hammam and fitness area.
#2. THE JORDAAN
Once renowned for radical politics and rowdy sing-a-longs, the Jordaan has evolved over decades of gentrification into an upscale neighborhood for yuppies and arty professionals. Known for its cobbled streets, gabled homes and tree-lined canals, the district is a living picture postcard with an eclectic mix of art galleries, sidewalk bistros and trendy boutiques. An impoverished Rembrandt lived in the Jordaan toward the end of his life, as did the Holocaust’s most famous diarist and her family before they were hauled away by the Nazis.
Shelter Jordan Christian Hostel: Set on a quiet street in the heart of the Jordaan, this alcohol-free, Christian-oriented shelter is a good choice for budget travelers looking for the communal ambience of a hostel without the all-night buzz. Clean male and female dorms have private lockers and shared baths. A continental breakfast is included and there’s free WiFi.
Wiechmann Hotel: A whimsical front window teapot collection signals you’ve arrived at this two-star, family-run hotel set in three restored canal houses on one of the Jordaan’s prettiest corners. Past the knickknack-filled lobby, typically steep Dutch stairs lead to rooms of varying sizes, all with antique furnishings, large windows, private baths and free Wi-Fi. Some offer French doors, small balconies and canal views. Enjoy morning coffee and croissants in the sunny breakfast room overlooking Prinsengracht canal.
Pulitzer Amsterdam: Situated in 25 connected 17th– and 18th-century canal houses, this five-star waterfront hotel is sandwiched by the storied Prinsengracht and Keizersgracht canals, a short stroll from the Anne Frank House. Traditional and modern Dutch design combines in unique rooms and suites with canal views, vintage telephones and bike repair sets. After a 2016 facelift, The Pulitzer is resplendent with modern art, a garden café, bar, and an upscale restaurant.
#3. THE MUSEUM QUARTER
One of the city’s most affluent neighborhoods sits just south of entertainment square Leidseplein, where you’ll find Amsterdam’s main theater (The Stadsschouwburg), numerous restaurants, and bars, bars, bars. The district incorporates world-renowned nightclubs Paradiso and Melkweg, as well as The Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum, Stedelijk Museum, and Moco on grassy Museumplein. It’s also home to The Royal Concertgebouw (Amsterdam’s renowned concert venue), serene Vondelpark and posh P.C. Hoofstraat, scene of the world’s most famous fashion brands.
International Budget Hostel: Set in a former 17th-century warehouse just off Leidseplein and within easy walking distance of Museumplein, this basic hostel caters to backpackers and students. Four-bed dorms with shared bathrooms and free WiFi combine with an outstanding location to make it a good choice for budget travelers looking for little more than a place to sleep after a long night of clubbing. The hostel offers a 24-hour café, lounge and rental bikes.
Stayokay Amsterdam Vondelpark Hostel: One of the city’s best hostels is set in a former red-brick schoolhouse adjoining Vondelpark. Accommodations include dorms with bunks, as well as private rooms. There’s a bar, TV room, game room, bike rental, coin-operated laundry and free WiFi throughout the building. A buffet breakfast is available for a few extra euros.
Conscious Hotel Museum Square: Solar panels, desks crafted from recycled materials, eco-cotton towels, water-saving shower-heads and an organic breakfast add up to a sustainability mantra put into practice at four eco-conscious hotels in Amsterdam. Choose from two locations near Vondelpark, another just off Museumplein. A fourth is in Westerpark on Amsterdam’s western edge.
Conservatorium Hotel: Housed in a former music conservatory, this member of the Leading Hotels of the World is in its element near the cultural attractions on Museumplein. The transformed structure boasts clean, contemporary lines accented with stained glass and other intact features of the original 19th-century building. Luxurious rooms feature split levels and high ceilings. The Akasha Holistic Wellbeing Center includes a fully-equipped fitness center, massage treatments and a Turkish hammam. Asian-inspired Taiko serves an à la carte menu and an extensive saké selection.
#4. THE OUD-WEST
Rapid gentrification has slicked up this multicultural district bordered by Vondelpark and Singelgracht canal, encompassing the eclectic shops and cafés on Overtoom and Kinkerstraat. The newest star is De Hallen, a mix of creative, fashion and media businesses; buzzing indoor food court Foodhallen; plus cafés, restaurants, a public library, movie complex, and the four-star Hotel de Hallen—all housed in a spruced-up tram depot that bears little resemblance to its former self.
CityHub: Geared for tech-savvy Millennials and Gen-Y travelers, this new concept minimalist hotel offers private sleeping cabins with king-size beds, air-conditioning, WiFi and iPod docking stations. Guests can control their cabin lighting and chat with other travelers or the CityHosts via a mobile app. Shared bathroom facilities include rain showers. There’s a self-service bar and €10 buys breakfast across the street. Luggage storage makes it easy to park your bags before check-in or after check-out.
Hotel Abba: Basic rooms are a bit dated and the stairs are steep at this smoker-friendly hotel by a tram stop on Overtoom, where you’ll never go hungry or lack for unique stores to browse. The hotel offers good value in rooms with private or shared bathrooms, some with balconies, as well as family-friendly accommodations with two bedrooms and an adjoining bath. Vondelpark is around the block and Museumplein is less than 10 minutes away by foot. A continental breakfast is included.
Hotel Not Hotel: Each guest room has a different theme in this boutique hotel with a lobby that could pass for an arty living room. A bit removed from the action but near a tram stop, as well as the shops and cafés on Kinkerstraat, it lives up to its name with quirky design and funky furnishings. The onsite Kevin Bacon Bar serves Thai food and late-night drinks in an ambiance as unpretentious as its namesake.
Hotel de Hallen: Industrial charm meets contemporary design and four-star comfort at this luxury hotel in De Hallen, a spruced up tram depot that’s become an Oud-West hotspot. Many original details of the former depot have been preserved amidst the hotel’s abundant space and foliage, accented with vintage Scandinavian furniture and modern art. The upscale Remise47 serves French and international cuisine, while the culinary diversity of Foodhallen, De Hallen’s indoor food court, is easily accessed.
#5. DE PIJP
Known for its bohemian vibe and wealth of cafés serving everything from Indonesian rijstafel to Moroccan and Turkish fare, De Pijp is home to the renowned Albert Cuyp Market. Open daily except Sunday, this 260-stall shopping extravaganza draws locals and tourists alike for produce, plants, trinkets, and such multicultural delicacies as Dutch herring, freshly-made stroopwafels and Vietnamese spring rolls.
Cocomama: “Staying at MAMA feels as safe and familiar as hanging out at mom’s, but with other international trotters like you,” boasts this eco-conscious hostel housed in a former brothel near the Heineken Experience. Dutch-themed accommodations range from private doubles to six-bed dorms. A marble entrance, spiral staircase with stripper pole, and high ceilings set the tone. Organized bar crawls, board game nights, walking tours and vegetarian “family dinners” add to the communal ambiance.
Bicycle Hotel: Students and backpackers will feel right at home at this no-frills, eco-friendly hotel, a five-minute walk from the Albert Cuyp market. Simply furnished rooms are available with private or shared baths, with up to four beds. Breakfast is included, and the hotel offers free Wi-Fi and rental bikes.
Colours in De Pijp: Period accents and marble fireplaces distinguish these studio apartments in a renovated 19th-century townhouse. Situated across from Sarphatipark and around the corner from the Albert Cuyp market, the property is five minutes by foot to the shops and restaurants on Van Woustraat. Rooms are spacious, with private baths and access to a kitchen and communal garden.
Sir Albert: A glass of Prosecco welcomes guests to this posh hotel housed in a 19th-century diamond factory on the quiet, western end of Albert Cuypstraat, the same street as the outdoor market. Artfully decorated rooms and suites feature high ceilings, large windows, private bars and Illy espresso machines. For added romance, request a west-facing balcony room so you can watch the sunset over the canal. In the evening, dine on Japanese specialties while watching chefs work over sizzling woks at IZAKAYA Asian Kitchen & Bar, relax with a drink on Sir Albert’s terrace, or browse the internet in the Persian-rug-floored study on one of the hotel’s iPads.
#6. THE OLD JEWISH QUARTER/PLANTAGE
Amsterdam has been a sanctuary for Jews since the 16th century. The first influx came after the Spanish and Portuguese Inquisitions, a second from Germany, Poland and Russia, pushed out by antisemitic regimes. Regardless of origin, most early Jewish immigrants settled around Waterlooplein, where Rembrandt lived at the height of his fame. Today his house on Jodenbreestraat is a museum replete with 17th-century objects and etchings. Waterlooplein, once the Jewish community’s central market, is now better known as a source for old military gear, bike parts and trinkets.
Just east of Waterlooplein, De Plantage provides a stark contrast to the medieval cobblestones and canals of the Grachtengordel. Home to Artis Royal Zoo, Hortus Botanical Gardens and the Tropenmuseum (showcasing the former Dutch colonies and Dutch East India Company), it’s greener and less touristy than Amsterdam’s historic center, with leafy boulevards and elegant squares. For culture vultures, the Dutch National Opera & Ballet and Royal Theatre Carré offer world-class productions of everything from classical dance to pop music.
Generator Hostel: A University of Amsterdam zoology building in leafy Oosterpark has been transformed into one of Amsterdam’s newest hostels, with a lounge that was once a lecture hall. The 565-bed behemoth mixes modern decor with lab flasks and other reclaimed materials from its past. Accommodations include quads with bunk beds, as well as doubles and suites with private bathrooms. Ask for a room at the front or side for views of the park. There’s a 24-hour front desk, as well as bike rentals.
Rembrandt Square Hotel: The rooms may be plain-vanilla and bathrooms are shared, but what’s lacking in personality is made up for in location at this hotel situated on one of Amsterdam’s liveliest public squares. Surrounded by restaurants and nightclubs, Rembrandt Square Hotel offers 24-hour reception, a tour desk, a brightly-colored lounge with leather seating, and basic rooms with cable TV.
InterContinental Amstel: The grande dame of Amsterdam hotels is set in a monumental 19th-century building on the banks of the Amstel River. A gleaming marble lobby sets the tone for rooms furnished with classic taste, offering city or river views. An indoor pool is part of a well-equipped spa and fitness center. La Rive, the hotel’s waterside restaurant, is considered one of the best in town. Royal Theater Carré is a five-minute walk away.
Waldorf Astoria: Opened in 2014, this five-star hotel offers luxury accommodations in six canal-side mansions on the prestigious Herengracht. A grand staircase by the architect of the Netherlands’ Royal Palace ascends through walls of gleaming marble, Rococo flourishes, chandeliers and 17th-century ceiling paintings. Rooms are spacious, with period pieces, entertainment systems, Salvatore Ferragamo toiletries, and espresso machines. Hotel amenities include formal and informal restaurants, a bar, gym, spa and indoor pool.
Accessible via a free ferry that plies the IJ River several times hourly from Central Station, Amsterdam-Noord feels like a different world, separated from the buzz of Centrum. Think edgy architecture, green spaces, artist studios and waterfront hangouts with views of the river and Amsterdam’s skyline. Other attractions include clean-tech playground De Ceuval, the spectacular Muziekgebouw aan ’t IJ concert hall, and jazz venue Bimhuis.
ClinkNOORD: Bunk down in mixed dorms or private ensuites on the “other” side of the IJ at this upscale hostel that opened in 2015. Housed in a red-brick building that once served as Shell’s headquarters, ClinkNOORD offers a laid-back vibe in its bright atrium and numerous lounge areas, including a café where a buffet breakfast is served, bar with live music and DJs, and a library. Talks, performances and other organized activities make it a good choice for solo travelers.
Botel: Sleep aboard a boat on the River IJ at this three-star hotel moored at NDSM Wharf, a dilapidated shipyard-turned-hip community. Simply furnished rooms offer private baths. A continental breakfast is served in a bar area where guests can play pool or video games. Botel also offers free newspapers, an outdoor terrace, and bike and car rental services. A free ferry makes the 10-minute trip to Central Station twice every hour.
Crane Hotel Faralda: Once a rickety crane on the banks of the IJ, Crane Faralda has risen from the ashes of NDSM Wharf as an industrial-chic hotel. After a challenging interior overhaul and flashy paint job, it debuted in 2014 with a panoramic lounge, three luxury suites, and a rooftop jacuzzi—all with stunning city views. Since the crane still spins to reduce wind load, guests wake up to different views than the ones they saw at dusk.
Don’t want to splurge on a €500/night suite? You can still bungee jump from the crane, plunging 115 feet as you whiz toward the river on a free-fall.
Full disclosure: This post contains affiliate links that will earn me a tiny commission if you click on them to make a booking. All lead to accommodations selected not to add to my riches but rather to make your stay in Amsterdam truly memorable.
You graciously hosted me when I visited Amsterdam in 2014. I have been receiving your blog posts through email ever since. I have like 6 friends going to Amsterdam in July and just sent them your link to this. Good timing! It’s awesome to see emails from Word Geisha from time to time. Reminds me of my younger free spirited days as a solo college traveler!
Thanks for the memories!
Freda from California
Great to hear, Freda. I no longer host couchsurfers, but would be happy to offer further guidance to your friends (or maybe meet them for a drink) if they contact me. Stay spirited!
What a great post (as always)! My husband Jeff and I really appreciate your advice. We have gotten major cool points by taking friends to the places you have recommended.
So glad you’re still following along, Leslie, and that my blog has been helpful. One of these days, I hope to meet you and your hubby in person!
A great comparison. You are a professionalist. Thank you I really enjoyed this article