Amsterdam - Houseboat, Hotel, or Apt?

Nov 6th, 2016, 10:38 AM
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Amsterdam - Houseboat, Hotel, or Apt?

Hi Fodorites,

I'm planning a long delayed first visit to Amsterdam for early May. Having a hard time deciding between a houseboat, which sounds like a cool experience as long as you get a good one, a hotel near the museum area, or a small apartment either in the Jordaan area, or a bit further out in Amsterdam Nord.

I'll be there for 6 full days with main objective being the #1 bucket list item of the Van Gogh museum. Plan on seeing some of the usual tourist highlights of the city, plus probably 3 day trips out to Haarlem, the windmills, and tulip fields.

Would it be most convenient to be nearer the Central Station considering the day trips? Would the Amsterdam Nord area be too far out for quick public trans over to the museums, etc.? I'm a light sleeper and wonder if the hotels in the museum area will be too noisy. Also have heard of problems with mosquitoes in apts without A/C when leaving the windows open if I hit a stretch of warm weather. I hate mosquitoes because they love me.....

For those of you who have visited, I would love your opinions.

Thanks in advance!
Dayle is offline  
Nov 6th, 2016, 11:09 AM
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The transport system is so good in Amsterdam it really doesn't matter too much where you stay it's never far from a tram/ferry etc. I know global warming and all that is changing the weather but I can't imagine there would be too much heat and too many mozzies in early May. I was there late May this year and stayed in a house with no A/c or screens and had no issues and the mozzies love me too.

Personally I didn't like the Centrum area, far too crowded and noisy for my tastes, I liked Jordaan and de Pjip areas.

Can't help with a house boat..but I would do a lot of research for that idea. Could be expensive... But novel.

When you narrow some places down, get on google maps and do a walk around to see what the area is like and read all reviews about noise etc. I'm a light sleeper and for that reason always stay out of the central areas.
schnauzer is offline  
Nov 6th, 2016, 12:10 PM
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Amsterdam is cracking down on the use of houseboats for rent and as hotels. They are intended only for living in and the numbers available for tourists will be greatly reduced. If you are concerned about mozzies a houseboat is probably not the best idea, though May is early for mozzies (and heat!).
Most hotels won't have A/C any more than the apartments do. Bear in mind to that Amsterdam has rules about AirBnB and you could end up without a place to stay if you go that route and the owner has broken the rules.
I guess it depends on whether you want to be able to self cater, or like having your bed made up for you which you choose.

Noord is connected to the rest of the city by bus and ferry. No trams, no metro (yet). That could be good, or not depending on your point of view and what you want to do. It does mean getting a ferry or a bus into the centre everyday, rather than just walking.

Early May is peak time because of the bulb fields so everything will be extra busy and hotels could be more expensive or even fully booked.

Since your bucketlist item is the Van Gogh be sure to buy a ticket online for as early as possible on your day of choice or reserve a timeslot online if you intend to buy a Museumcard.
hetismij2 is offline  
Nov 6th, 2016, 12:23 PM
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Thanks for the comments. I have never used Airbnb and dont intend to start on this trip. I was looking at houseboats and apts on vrbo. Is that now a problem too?

Surely the city must allow some rentals that are legal. How can you know?

I alreadY have two hotel res in the museum area and yes they are expensive! Traveling solo, but since Ill be there for a few days I didnt want to go the single room route. I know how small those can be although I dont mind them for a night ot two.

Hotels reserved are the Roemer and the Ethea...something. Not going to look up the sp right now. Both get good reviews but are pricey for a solo. I have a little time today to look further so ....

I kind of like the idea of being outside the city as long as the buses are early and frequent.
Dayle is offline  
Nov 6th, 2016, 02:43 PM
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We have used in many places (not yet in Amsterdam), from Australia to Washington D.C. to Italy and France and elsewhere.

It is a relative newcomer, now a part of Tripadvisor.

I can recommend it, the use of an apartment with kitchen and such comforts of home makes a stay very comfortable. No need to run out or run downstairs for everything like you do when staying in a hotel.

Signing up and booking a place is easy - by using google maps and switching to street view and satellite view you can "look" at the neighborhood before you decide, look up the nearest tram line and shops and such.
michelhuebeli is offline  
Nov 6th, 2016, 03:34 PM
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A couple of months ago we took a tour of the Van Gogh with Context tours. Although I knew quite a bit about Vincent's life, the docent added a whole new dimension.
rncheryl is offline  
Nov 6th, 2016, 05:23 PM
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Since youll be there for a while, Id opt for the apartment if possible.
november_moon is offline  
Nov 6th, 2016, 05:33 PM
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>>I was looking at houseboats and apts on vrbo. Is that now a problem too?

both are merely listing sites -- no real difference

Houseboats in A'dam have the same issues as apartments in Paris. Listed all over the place but mostly illegal.
janisj is online now  
Nov 6th, 2016, 06:20 PM
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I was very pleased with my stay in the museum area. That said, I generally prefer a hotel to an apartment, and as interesting as a houseboat sounds, I would think it would be louder (I'm imagining the echoes bouncing off the water and canal walls) and more likely to involve mosquitos and other insects than a hotel. I could be wrong!

Amsterdam is a delight -- enjoy!
kja is offline  
Nov 6th, 2016, 06:32 PM
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Yes, my concern with the houseboat option would be noise. I cant imagine how a canal would really be very quiet with boats going by all the time. Also they are pretty expensive, especially for a solo traveler. Sure would be a fin experience though!

So does anyone know how you go about finding a legal apartment? Any links to property management companies in Amsterdam?

I would really prefer an apartment, but some of those stairs are scary! This from someone who has few fears.
Dayle is offline  
Nov 6th, 2016, 06:33 PM
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I recently stayed in the Museum District (Jan Lujkenstraat) and found it a quiet area. It's only steps from the Van Gogh Museum and Rijksmuseum. I wouldn't worry about noise there.
laverendrye is offline  
Nov 6th, 2016, 06:38 PM
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Let me throw in my opinion although it doesn't apply specifically to Amsterdam. We just returned from a trip to SW France where we spent part of our time in apartments and part of our time on a canal boat (2 small bedroom cabins, 2 small bathrooms, and a main kitchen/living area) that we drove down a canal. Go for the apartment! While the boat was intriguing for a couple days, we soon felt too constricted and confined in it and missed the space we'd had in apartments. At the end of our stay on the boat, I commented to my husband that this served to reinforce my opinion that getting an RV was not something I'd ever want to do.
julies is offline  
Nov 6th, 2016, 06:39 PM
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Thanks for the note about Context for the Van Gogh. I have done a couple tours with them in Rome and think they are excellent. If I did a tour of the Van Gogh I might have to make two visits. One to listen to the docent, and another just to gaze for hours at my leisure!
Dayle is offline  
Nov 6th, 2016, 10:17 PM
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Dayle, please go for a hotel. Apartment rentals are making Amsterdam unlivable in certain areas. Don't contribute to that. I think it's safe to say that most apartment rentals are illegal. And since there's a relatively large contingent of social housing in the centre of Amsterdam, chances are that you are helping to steal housing from Amsterdam inhabitants who really really need it. Amsterdam is romantic even if you don't live a pipe dream of "living like a resident".
menachem is offline  
Nov 7th, 2016, 04:05 AM
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We stayed in a houseboat last year, and loved the experience. There was no boat traffic, only swans. The canal was a dead end, so that's why it was so quiet. Very clean and we rented bikes and rode everywhere. Near Anne Frank house. Here's the link:

Here it is on trip advisor, you can read the reviews...
joan is offline  
Nov 9th, 2016, 12:50 PM
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Woohoo! I just booked my air using FF miles. So happy SLC now has three non stop options to Europe.

Now back to the lodging issue. Not sure what you mean by "social housing". Is that government subsidized housing for low income? Zoning where nightly rentals are prohobited? I live in a major sli resort town so I know all about those restrictions.

No, I have no illusions abput living like a local. You dont do that in just 6 days. Dont think of a houseboat as particularly romantic either. Besides this is a solo trip. It just sounds like an interesting experience.

Any info on how you find legal apts? I just like a little more room, privacy and amenities like washer/dryer and bkfst on a longer stay.
Dayle is offline  
Nov 10th, 2016, 08:07 AM
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Amsterdam is special because it still has a large contingent of rent control housing for lower income residents. I believe that a decade ago this was still about 30% of housing stock in the center of Amsterdam. These houses and apartments are owned by a number of housing associations and former housing cooperatives and are distributed according to a strict ranking of prospective renters: the longer the waiting time, the further you get pushed up the list, but urgent cases get priority. It's made Amsterdam into what it still is, a city where the different social groups are mixed to a large extent. Lately, there have been large numbers of sub-let rent controlled apartments appearing on AirB&B, managed by frontmen who act as agents for the person paying renters to sublet to them. This is illegal and also it removes apartments from circulation. For a house in central Amsterdam, waiting times are now nearing the 10 year mark, and this just adds to the waiting time.

If you look at and filter out apartments, you should get legal ones.
menachem is offline  
Nov 10th, 2016, 09:06 AM
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Thanks for the explanation. That is about what I expected. Ill try the filtering of apts and see what comes up.

Really looking forward to visiting!
Dayle is offline  
Nov 10th, 2016, 09:51 PM
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We stayed on a houseboat in North Amsterdam, nothing romantic about it, it was a modern duplex that happened to be floating on a canal. If interested, you can find my trip report by clicking on my name.
Michael is online now  

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