Amsterdam is one of those rare destinations where you can be a stone’s throw from the centre but feel a world away. Why choose between culture-packed city charm and lush landscape? Experience everything from a laid-back beach vacation to a rural farm stay without ever leaving the city by staying in one of these urban escapes.
The view from above
A spectacular view is yours for the taking atop several unique accommodation options in Amsterdam. Whether it’s high above the vibrant NDSM district in a disused and repurposed crane or Yays Crane apartment along the KNSM-Eiland’s foreshore, you’ll be in awe of the passing parade of ships day and night. In the city’s west you’ll find The Windketel, once a part of Amsterdam’s water works, the three-level apartment is surrounded by a garden and fitted-out with pieces by Dutch designers. What’s more, Westergas and Westerpark are on your doorstep. Out on the city’s southern edge you can step into the future at Fletcher Hotel Amsterdam. Designed by Benthem Crouwel, this eye-catching circular edifice offers 4-star accommodation and stunning views above the A2 and A9 motorways.
Down by the water
With over 100 kilometres of canals in Amsterdam, finding a sweet spot to stay by the water is easy. Sweets Hotels have transformed 28 former bridge houses into stylish hotels with uninterrupted views of the canal. Enjoy a ringside view as bridges open before your very eyes and barges cruise by just a few metres away. Several houseboats are scattered across the city that will get you right on the water, including Westerdok25, an old wooden ship in the hip Haarlemmerbuurt neighbourhood. Catering to a range of budgets, staying in floating accommodation is the ultimate Amsterdam experience that will ensure you leave rested and revived.
Roosts for culture vultures
Located in De Baarsjes, an edgy area in Amsterdam’s west is Hotel Not Hotel. Forget about any notions of the typical hotel room as their offerings focus on fun, everything from a converted tram to a spruced-up vintage VW Kombi to make you feel as if you’re road-tripping. Across the river IJ, Sir Adam offers water views, crisp quality linen, Illy coffee machines, a curated minibar and a turntable with an eclectic selection of vinyl to play making this a room you won’t want to leave.
Since the Netherlands is the world’s biggest flower exporter, it should come as no surprise that urban farms, fields of flowers and spacious gardens are hidden throughout Amsterdam and its outskirts. Live the lush life at Amsterdam Farm Lodge to the north of the city, where you’ll find a delightful vegetable garden stretching out in tidy rows, chickens, pigs, goats and other farmyard friends. The lodge is part of a small-scale, sustainable urban agriculture project (NoordOogst) and with seven holiday apartments, two restaurants and a playground, it is a great escape for families and groups of friends.
Less than a 10-minute bike ride from Centraal Station, Zoku has a rooftop garden and greenhouse, along with a broad terrace with plenty of fresh air that pairs perfectly with their produce-packed breakfast, lunch and dinner menus. This is also an ideal spot to mix business with pleasure, as they offer co-working day passes for €30 that include lunch among the trees.
Garden Suite Centre is an unusual boutique stay on the edge of Vondelpark, just a 10-minute walk from the Rijksmuseum. This luxe two-person room has an impressive floor-to-ceiling window that opens onto a private 110-square-metre tropical garden complete with palm trees and a fish pond.
Gezellig means cosy, and a number of Amsterdam’s hotels offer cosy in spades, giving you that apres-ski vibe. Hotel V Frederiksplein offers 48 rooms, an intimate, laid-back atmosphere and a fireside couch, perfect for a heart-starting brandy post cross-country exploration. Hotel V has two other equally cosy locations. Try Hotel V Fizeaustraat for glitz and glamour or Hotel V Nesplein for serenity in the city centre.
Be beside the seaside
The beach is in easy reach of Amsterdam, where you’ll find some great places to stay that will get you in touch with nature. Stay in a luxuriously appointed Sea House along the coast at Qurios, including one with its own sauna. Connect with nature as the waves cascade onto the beach and nearby wildlife charms you with their birdsong and braying. As any self-respecting Dutch person will tell you, walks along the beach are just the ticket any time of year.
Get the authentic outdoor urban escape vibe with a camping trip on an island. Camping Zeeburg is within easy reach of the city centre and offers colourful waterside wagonettes that will make you feel like you’re in the middle of nature. Breathe in the fresh air on walks and admire the nearby landscape as you explore the area. At the end of the day, warm up in your wagonette with a nice bottle of red or tipple.