Almost 50 years after John Lennon and Yoko Ono promoted world peace from room 702 of the Hilton, hotels in Amsterdam are more worthy of the spotlight than ever. But even for seasoned travellers, finding the best area to stay in Amsterdam takes a bit of research.
The Dutch capital’s accommodation options are among the most exciting in Europe. And now, with the Eurostar route between London and Amsterdam, they are more accessible than ever. So we've done the research, found you the best parts of Amsterdam and recommended hotels in each one. The following information is taken from The Rough Guide to Amsterdam, your travel guide for visiting Amsterdam.
Take your pick from handsomely converted old canal houses, sleek-and-chic boutique B&Bs and luxurious short-stay apartments. Or choose quirkier options like houseboats, a converted tram depot and even a crane.
Amsterdam may be one of the top 5 cities to visit in the Netherlands, but it still caters well for visitors on a budget. So you'll find bargain beds aplenty in the city’s hostels and campsites. Remember, as in most capitals, prices soar during peak season – July and August, Easter and Christmas – especially last-minute, so booking in advance is a must.
The Old Centre: the best area to stay in Amsterdam on a budget
Amsterdam Canal in Old Centre © Tobias Arhelger/Shutterstock
If you choose to stay in the Old Centre, you’ll be a short walk from the main sights and the principal shopping and nightlife areas. Many first-time visitors consider this area the best place to stay in Amsterdam, due to its central location and abundance of budget accommodation options.
This is the first place to start looking if money is tight. Some may find the proximity of the red light district off-putting, although Spuistraat is also here and it's one of Rough Guides' 20 great streets to wander.
Where to Stay in Amsterdam Old Centre
- For budget stays: the Flying Pig Downtown hostel is clean, large and well run by ex-travellers familiar with the needs of backpackers. It’s justifiably popular, and a very good deal, with mixed dorms, some of which have queen-sized bunks sleeping two.
- For one-star excellence: Hotel Prinsenhof is a small one-star which has been offering bed and board since 1813. Its 11 rooms are spacious and tastefully decorated, making it one of Amsterdam’s top budget options, but booking ahead is essential.
- For no-limits luxury: elegant old-timer, De L’Europe Amsterdam, has plenty of fin-de-siècle charm and a central riverside location. The rooms are large and opulent, and there’s also a two-Michelin-star restaurant, Bord’eau, as well as a spa and the glamorous, Freddy’s Bar.
- For arty stays: As you might have guessed from the name, Art’otel is filled with art. It even has its own gallery and a monthly cultural programme. All 107 rooms contain a unique piece of art and are sleekly styled. Downstairs you’ll find a pool, sauna and gym.
- For boutique stays: Rooms at The Exchange in the heart of the Old Centre are dressed with all manner of fashiony details. Options range from tiny, pared-back one-star rooms for those on a budget, to pricier, spacious, five-star rooms with great city views.
Find more accommodation options in the Old Centre of Amsterdam
Grachtengordel South: the rising Amsterdam area
Amsterdam Canal ring © LouieLea/Shutterstock
Ideally positioned for the plethora of clubs, bars and restaurants on and around Leidseplein and Rembrandtplein, the Grachtengordel area is on the rise. The Waldorf Astoria even decided to locate their new hotel here in 2014. And it's also home to the Anne Frank House, a must see in Amsterdam with kids, or without.
There are plenty of options for those on a budget too, including a number of very appealing – and occasionally stylish – hotels along the surrounding canals.
Where to stay in the Grachtengordel
- For indulgent stays: Waldorf Astoria is housed within a series of conjoined seventeenth-century canal houses in one of the city’s most prestigious neighbourhoods. The hotel has 93 rooms and suites in tasteful, calming neutral shades. It’s hard to fault, except for the eye-watering cost.
- For canal house stays: Ambassade is an eminently appealing hotel that occupies a series of cleverly renovated seven enth-century canal houses. There are 60-plus rooms, each decorated in period-meets-country-house style. There’s also a well-stocked library and a study room with modern art.
- For budget stays: Hotel Clemens sits close to the Anne Frank Huis. A well-run two-star budget hotel, with a friendly, knowledgeable owner, it's one of the better options along this busy main road. The rooms are all en-suite, and come with a mini-fridge and LCD TV.
- For starry stays: Gorgeous in their own right, the combined 17th century canal houses which make up the Pulitzer Amsterdam became even more famous when scenes from Ocean's Twelve were filmed here. Some rooms in this prestigious five-star overlook the inner courtyard and others have canal views.
- For stylish stays: The Dylan Amsterdam is hip without being pretentious and housed in a 17th century building centred around a beautiful courtyard and terrace. The 40 sumptuous rooms are decorated in neutral tones and there’s also a Michelin-star restaurant on site, serving up modern French cuisine.
Find more accommodation options in Grachtengordel
The Jordaan: well away from tourists
Jordaan, the best area to stay in Amsterdam to avoid crowds © Tupungato/Shutterstock
Staying in the Jordaan puts you among the locals, well away from the prime tourist areas. There’s no shortage of bars and restaurants here either, and some of the city’s prettiest canals thread through the district, but you’ll be at least a 15-minute walk from the bright lights.
Be aware when looking for a place to stay that Marnixstraat and Rozengracht are busy main roads.
Where to stay in the Jordaan
- For inventive design: There’s plenty of buzz surrounding Hotel De Hallen, the stunning conversion of a 1902 tram depot. Original features, such as rails on the dining-room floor and a vaulted glass ceiling, remain intact. And the 55 rooms seem to be suspended within the structure.
- For canal side stays: Linden Hotel, in the heart of the Jordaan, sits on a corner, so some of the rooms have sweeping views of the canal and its adjoining streets. The functional rooms sleep two to four people and are rather nondescript, with small beds and a shower room.
Find more accommodation options in Jordaan
The Eastern Docklands and Amsterdam Noord
Amsterdam IJ river with ferries, EYE Film Museum and ADAM Tower © Photix/Shutterstock
These up-and-coming districts have some excellent, avant-garde accommodation options, including one of the world's weirdest hotels. And although their industrial architecture and open expanses won't hike Amsterdam up the most beautiful city in the world list, the old centre’s medieval lanes are only a short hop away by ferry or tram.
Where to stay in the Eastern Docklands
- For unusual stays: Botel, moored at NDSM Pier, is a three-star floating hotel . Its 175 en-suite rooms are either waterside or landside and fairly functional. Staying here might feel like spending time on a cross-Channel ferry, but the bar has internet access, a pool table, juke box and pinball machine.
- For one-of-a-kind stays: Ever slept 50m in the air? The Crane by YAYS is the world’s first hotel in a crane and offers three ultra-contemporary suites with knee-buckling city views. As you’d expect, there’s a long waiting list, so book well in advance.
- For boutique stays: DoubleTree by Hilton was the first hotel to set up in the hip NDSM district. It's a plush boutique option and may have icy front-desk staff, but the luxurious rooms, fitness centre, brasserie and bar should more than make up for it.
- For island stays: Room Mate Aitana is built on an artificial island just metres from Centraal Station. This ultramodern hotel has light, bright rooms that come with an LCD TV and rain shower, plus access to the on-site gym. The breakfast buffet doesn’t finish until noon so it's perfect for late risers.
- For budget stays: ClinkNOORD Hostel is housed in former Shell headquarters from the 1920s. It offers a range of four to 10 bed dorms (including girls-only dorms) as well as private en-suite rooms. Facilities include a free cinema, self-catering kitchen, café and library, plus a bar with live music.
Find more accommodation options in the Eastern Docklands and Amsterdam Noord
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The Old Jewish Quarter and Plantage
Oosterpark in Amsterdam © Sirio Carnevalino/Shutterstock
Not many tourists stay in The Old Jewish Quarter, as it’s a largely residential area, with very few bars or restaurants. You’re pretty much guaranteed a quiet night’s sleep here, plus it's a good district for a green stay in Amsterdam and you're only a tram ride away from the leading sights
Where to stay in the old Jewish Quarter
- For modern stays: Hotel Arena sits a little way east of the centre. A hip four-star hotel with split-level rooms in tranquil grey or cream it has a lovely, relaxed vibe in the bar. It also offers an intimate restaurant with garden terrace and a lively late-night club located within the former chapel.
- For indulgent stays: One of the city’s most enduring top-class hotels, the InterContinental Amstel occupies a grand, chateau-style 19th century mansion beside the Singelgracht canal. There’s also an excellent French restaurant, plus a health club with pool and Jacuzzi.
- For budget stays: Ecomama is a superb, light, bright eco-hostel with green roof, water-saving system and rooms that range from “El Cheapo” twelve-bed dorms to very stylish private en-suite doubles. A women-only dorm is also available here.
Find more accommodation options in Amsterdam city centre
The Museum Quarter: best area for culture
Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam © Norman van Rhijn/Shutterstock
The best area to stay in Amsterdam for cultural attractions, the Museum Quarter centres on the Van Gogh Museum and the Rijksmuseum – although the nightlife around Leidseplein is also within easy striking distance.
There are no canals here, and two of the main drags constantly rumble with traffic, but several good hotels are to be found in the area. You can also take a walk in local Vondelpark, one of the top free things to do in Amsterdam.
Where to stay in the Museum Quarter
- For old school stays: The College Hotel has been onverted from a nineteenth-century schoolhouse to create an elegant boutique hotel run by hotel-school students. It has tasteful modern rooms, a first-rate restaurant, a swanky bar and a chic terrace.
- For impressive stays: Conservatorium Hotel is probably Amsterdam's most jaw-dropping stay. The heritage building has been transformed into a contemporary design wonderland. Standard guestrooms come with Nespresso machine and free newspapers, plus access to Akasha – the city’s largest and most opulent spa.
- For green stays: The youthful and eco-conscious Bicycle Hotel is located down a quiet residential street. It offers two, three and four-bed rooms, plus one with bunk beds and all are bright and clean. During the winter months the hotel usually offers free bike rental too.
- For deluxe stays: Don’t be fooled by the concrete, purpose-built façade of Okura, this deluxe hotel comes with a spa, pool and fitness centre (complete with personal trainers), plus an astonishing three Michelin starred restaurant. Its 300 rooms boast huge marble bathrooms, and mod cons abound in its suites.
- For boutique stays: Hotel Roemer is a high-end boutique option, dotted with contemporary art and with its own garden. It caters for discerning business travellers, but will suit non-business types too. They offer a “Roemer Inclusive” rate, which includes all alcoholic drinks, snacks in the afternoon and a scrumptious breakfast.
Find more accommodation options in the Museum Quarter
The outer districts: top-notch stays for less
Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam © Christophe Cappelli/Shutterstock
Amsterdam might not be one of the best places to visit in Europe on a budget, but exciting accommodation options are cropping up in areas such as Amsterdam Oost. This is becoming a reliable spot to find top-notch digs for less and, thanks to reliable and frequent trams, staying here doesn’t place you too far from the action.
Where to stay in the outer districts of Amsterdam
- For retro stays: Hilton Amsterdam sits way outside the centre by a canal in the distinctly upmarket Nieuw Zuid district and has all the facilities you could hope for. Mainly attracting a business-oriented clientele, it’s only really worth considering if you can afford to soak up a bit of 1960s nostalgia in its stunning “John and Yoko” suite, where the couple held their famous 1969 “Bed-In” for peace.
- For hostel stays: Stayokay Hostel is located in a former school in a residential area on the eastern outskirts of the city, this hostel has its own bar/restaurant, bike rental and laundry, and is wheelchair accessible. It shares the building with Studio/K, a multipurpose venue that shows art-house films and has a decent restaurant.
Find more accommodation options in Amsterdam Oost
Ready for a trip to Amsterdam? Check out the Rough Guide to Amsterdam or the Rough Guide to the Netherlands. If you travel further in the Netherlands, read more about the best time to go and the best places to visit. For inspiration use our Netherlands itineraries. A bit more hands on, learn about getting there, getting around the country and where to stay once you are there.
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