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amsterdam or leiden

Old Feb 23rd, 2004, 06:21 PM
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amsterdam or leiden

We are concluding a 11 day trip with 3 days in the Netherlands. We had planned on staying in Amsterdam but are now considering Leiden. Any comments on using Leiden as a base and spending one day there. We'd take the train for a couple visits to Amsterdam and use the train to go to the airport. We haven't booked anything in either city yet and would appreciate input. Bob
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Old Feb 24th, 2004, 05:13 AM
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It would be helpful if you told us why you decided on Leiden vs. Amsterdam.
 
Old Feb 24th, 2004, 05:21 AM
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...and also whether or not you have been to Amsterdam before...
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Old Feb 24th, 2004, 07:40 AM
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I may be crazy thinking about staying in leiden vs. Amsterdam. I was told Leiden is a nice picturesque university town, less conjested than Amsterdam but close enough that you can get into and out of Amsterdam with no problem. I was also told that biking in Amsterdam can be intimidating and Leiden is not. (We like to bike but have no problem walking wherever we go.)

We have never been to the Netherlands or Amsterdam before. We arrive there for the last 3 days of a trip that starts in Paris and includes Normandy and Belgium. We're returning a car and flying home from Schiphol. Thanks in advance for your thoughts.
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Old Feb 24th, 2004, 07:58 AM
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Leiden is a pleasant city which we've visited twice for business, (once for five days). However, it can't compare to Amsterdam for museums/restaurants, etc. If you want to see Leiden do a day trip from Amsterdam. Tourists are often unnecessarily fearful of Amsterdam. It's a great city.
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Old Feb 24th, 2004, 09:30 AM
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Thanks for the input Marija. Do you have any hotel recommendations in Amsterdam....smaller vs. huge; local flavor vs. big chain, 2-3 star.
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Old Feb 24th, 2004, 09:41 AM
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Beechtree,
In my experience, you REALLY get what you pay for in a 2-star in A'dam. So my two suggestions here are for 3 to four star properties which can be booked for reasonable rates through bookings.nl.

NH Doelen
A faded grand-dame kind of place on the Amstel, and quite historic - it's the
building where Rembrandt exhibited "Night Watch" to the public for the first time. A bit shabby in places but clean with a great location. Go next door to Cafe de Jaren for breakfast unless you want the overpriced hotel buffet.

Estherea
More central (closer to Dam Square). A mix of room sizes and shapes, family-run.

If you really do want a 2-star, don't stay in one in the Dam Square area. There are some nice smaller properties out near the Vondel Park and the museum quarter.

I highly recommend checking out Channels.nl - this website contains reviews of just about everything in Amsterdam, with a link to the aforementioned bookings.nl.
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Old Feb 24th, 2004, 09:48 AM
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I pointed out Hotel de Munck on a thread (January?) and the original poster came back after their visit to say they loved it. It's a 2-star a half block off the Amstel, near the 'skinny bridge'.
http://www.hoteldemunck.com/
http://www.amsterdamby.com/munck/
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Old Feb 24th, 2004, 10:43 AM
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Good advice and recommendations. Is hotel location critical in Amsterdam?
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Old Feb 24th, 2004, 11:54 AM
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Critical? Hmmmm yes and no. "Central" is a relative term, as Amsterdam is small in comparision to some other cities. And it's not really an advantage to stay in the most central part - that is, right around Dam Square. That's just my opinion, though. If I was to pick a hotel for a friend going for the first time, I'd say somewhere in the Canal Ring area, probably more towards the western (Jordaan) end. That way, you'd be close to Centraal Station if you need it, and far away enough from the downtown bustle. However, the poster above who mentions the De Munck also has a good alternative - the area around the Magere Brug (skinny bridge) is also pretty nice. Hope this helps.
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Old Feb 24th, 2004, 12:02 PM
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We stayed at the Ambassade Hotel on the Herengracht. It is a hotel converted from several townhouses. The rooms were large and clean. The staff was very helpful. It is an easy walk to just about everywhere. The public transportation is a block away. You will love it there.
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Old Feb 24th, 2004, 12:09 PM
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thanks for the recommendations on areas and hotels. this helps!
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Old Feb 24th, 2004, 01:51 PM
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The Ambassade is an excellent hotel, but it might be a bit higher than the price range you are looking for. The Ambassade has a lovely day spa on the first floor of one of its buildings. It's called Koan Float (you don't have to be a hotel guest to make use of the spa) - they offer massges and flotation tanks - you know, the "back to the womb" things. I had a heavenly massage at Koan Float that only cost about 42 Euros last year. I was too chicken to try the tank.
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Old Feb 24th, 2004, 04:58 PM
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Bob,

You might try Haarlem. It's only 17 minutes from Amsterdam Centraal Station, half the time for going to Leiden by train.

You can rent bicycles in the Haarlem station. It's a great ride out through the dunes to the North Sea at Zandvoort. Dutch bicycles "handle" much differently than probably any you've been on before.

The Lion d'Or at the station is a small and very good businessmen's hotel. The Carlton Square, another 3 star, is on the southern side of the city close to the Frans Hals Museum. The 1 star places are around the Grote Markt and the big church in the center of the city.

The best transportation between Haarlem and Schiphol is Connexxion bus 300. From the station to the airport takes about 40 minutes with departures every 10 minutes. It's a big comfortable bus and sure beats the trains for comfort, convenience, and security against pickpockets.

BTW, when are you going? April and May are the tulip months at Keukenhof.

If you decide on Amsterdam I agree with the Ambassade recommendation. It is a bit pricey but utterly unique.

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Old Feb 24th, 2004, 05:42 PM
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Thanks to all for advice. We're going in Sept. so have a little time to sort things out.
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