Almost 50 years after John Lennon and Yoko Ono promoted world peace from room 702 of the Hilton, Amsterdam's hotels are more worthy of the spotlight than ever. Even for seasoned travellers, the Dutch capital’s accommodation options are among the most exciting in Europe – and with the recently launched Eurostar route between London and Amsterdam – they are more accessible than ever. We've done our research to present you with the best areas to stay in Amsterdam (taken from the latest Rough Guide), and the best hotels in each area.
Take your pick from handsomely converted old canal houses, sleek-and-chic boutique B&Bs and luxurious short-stay apartments, or quirkier options like houseboats, a converted tram depot and even a crane (!). Visitors on a budget are catered for too, with 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.
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The Old Centre
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. Cheap hotels abound and this is the first place to start looking if money is tight, although some may find the proximity of the red light district off-putting.
On a budget
Flying Pig Downtown. This 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.
De L’Europe Amsterdam. This elegant old-timer 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, a spa and the glamorous Freddy’s Bar.
Ideally positioned for the plethora of clubs, bars and restaurants on and around Leidseplein and Rembrandtplein, this area is on the rise. The Waldorf Astoria even decided to locate their new hotel here in 2014. 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.
The big name
Waldorf Astoria. 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.
A great budget option
Hotel Prinsenhof. This small one-star has been offering bed and board since 1813. The 11 rooms are spacious and tastefully decorated, making it one of Amsterdam’s top budget options, but booking ahead is essential.
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.
Hotel De Hallen. There’s plenty of buzz surrounding the stunning conversion of this 1902 tram depot. Original features, such as rails in the dining-room floor, and the vaulted glass ceiling, have been kept intact, and the 55 rooms seem to be suspended within the structure.
Beautifully furnished boutique style
Maison Rika. Housed in a former art gallery, this boutique option has two beautifully furnished queen-sized bedrooms on the second and third floors and is owned by fashion designer Ulrika Lundgren, who has a shop across the street.
The Eastern Docklands and Amsterdam Noord
These up-and-coming districts have some excellent, avant-garde accommodation options, and though their industrial architecture and open expanses might feel a world away from the old centre’s medieval lanes, they’re just a short hop away by ferry or tram.
An unusual conversion
Lloyd Hotel. Situated in the Oosterdok (eastern docklands) district, this former prison and refugee workers’ hostel has been renovated to become a “cultural embassy”, with an arts centre as well as an art library. The hotel serves all kinds of travellers, with rooms ranging from one-star affairs with a shared bathroom to five-star suites.
Crane Hotel Faralda. Ever slept 50m in the air? The world’s first hotel in a crane 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.
The Old Jewish Quarter and Plantage
Not many tourists stay in this area as it’s largely residential, with very few bars or restaurants. So you’re pretty much guaranteed a quiet night’s sleep here, and you’re only a tram ride away from the leading sights.
A simple and welcoming stay
Hotel Adolesce. A popular and welcoming four-storey hotel (no lift) in an old canal house not far from Waterlooplein. There are ten neat, if a little dated, rooms and a communal seating area.
Hotel Arena. A little way east of the centre, this hip four-star hotel has split-level rooms in tranquil grey or cream. There’s a lovely, relaxed vibe in the bar and the intimate restaurant with garden terrace, and a lively late-night club located within the former chapel.
The Museum Quarter
The city’s smartest 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, and two of the main drags constantly rumble with traffic, but several good hotels are to be found here, plus the leafy Vondelpark.
Back to school
The College Hotel. Converted from a nineteenth-century schoolhouse, the college is 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.
Conservatorium Hotel. The capital’s most jaw-dropping hotel, this 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.
The outer districts
Exciting accommodation options are cropping up in areas such as Amsterdam Oost, offering the opportunity of top-notch digs for less – and thanks to reliable and frequent trams, staying here doesn’t place you too far from the action.
Bring back the 1960s
Hilton Amsterdam. Way outside the centre by a canal in the distinctly upmarket Nieuw Zuid district, this hotel 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.
Hostel beds and more
Stayokay Zeeburg. 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.
This feature contains affiliate links; you can find out more about why here. All recommendations are editorially independent and taken from The Rough Guide to Amsterdam. Top image: One of canals in Amsterdam old town © Shutterstock.