Secret Hotels of Amsterdam
Change takes time in the city of wooden shoes. In September, the Stedelijk Museum of modern art reopened after years of renovations. Next, the city will spend a decade converting the Red Light District into a dining and shopping zone. Looking to drop in on the makeover? We’ve got just the places.
On April 13, Amsterdam's Rijksmuseum will open its doors after a 10-year, nearly $500 million renovation. The 1885 structure has been restored to its 19th-century glory, with the added advantage of contemporary lighting and design that will literally put works by Rembrandt, Vermeer, and other Dutch Masters in an ideal light. Ready to head for the city of canals, wooden shoes, and amazing paintings? Budget Travel has rounded up some masterpieces of our own—four affordable hotels!
Hotel The Exchange
Take seniors and recent graduates from the Amsterdam Fashion Institute, challenge them to "dress a room like a model on the catwalk," then set them loose. That's what the owners of Hotel The Exchange did before opening last December, and the results are as unconventional as they are inspired. What the 61 rooms lack in space they make up for with funky touches such as a bed hidden beneath an enormous hoop skirt or a light fixture made from braided ropes that dangle from the ceiling like a luminescent necklace. If the creativity bug strikes during your stay, sewing machines stand at the ready in many of the cozy public spaces. Damrak 50, exchangeamsterdam.com, from $111.
The Manor Hotel—Hampshire Eden
A century ago, it was a grand hospital in the countryside. Today, the Manor Hotel is a four-star retreat that's a mere 10 minutes by train from Centraal Station. The building still has impressive bones: wrought-iron gates, marble entrance way, ornate brick facade. Front balconies overlook leafy Oosterpark, while rear rooms face an interior garden where you can sip one of 25 wines at Enoteca restaurant. But the cherry-red hallways and oversize headboards sporting kitschy takes on Dutch themes (neon lights reflecting on canals, close-ups of tulips and windmills) give the 125-room hotel an offbeat sense of fun, too. Linnaeusstraat 89, edenhotelgroup.com, from $96.
Hotel JL no. 76
Hotel JL no. 76 isn't just walking distance from the Rijksmuseum and other museum-district mainstays: It aspires to be a member of the club. Paintings and textiles by artists Barbara Broekman and Pietr Keizer fill the walls, and the hotel's unofficial mascots are the racing dog statues standing watch in the lobby window. Each of the 39 rooms features a double-sink vanity outside the bathroom, a plush Coco-Mat mattress atop a king-size bed, and either a walk-in rain shower or Jacuzzi (or both!). Best of all, iPads are available at the front desk, which you're free to use as a personal guide while you admire the Dutch masters just down the street. Jan Luijkenstraat 76, vondelhotels.com, from $135.
Conscious Hotel Vondelpark
In a city that's unusually eco-conscious (three out of four residents bike to work), this 81-room hotel is so green it's almost chartreuse. Named for Amsterdam's largest park-across the street and best explored on one of their 33 rental bikes ($19 per day)-the two-year-old hotel features materials chosen for sustainability and a living plant wall in the lobby. A 100 percent organic, fair-trade breakfast buffet is laid out on tables made from recycled coffee cup waste. You'll even find earth-friendly gifts (like a stuffed animal made from pure yak wool and organic cotton) at the on-site shop. Who says it's not easy being green? Overtoom 519, conscioushotels.com, from $80.