Booking Your Amsterdam Hotel
If you are considering a visit to our lovely city, it is best to be prepared: know that you will pay quite a bit for your hotel room, and know that it may be rather rundown. Amsterdam has accommodation from dormitory-style hostels to 5-star luxury hotels and everything in between, but bargains are very hard to find, even if you are savvy about online rate-cutting and so forth.
The Price - Figure on 90 euro minimum for a single, 130 minimum for a double, for anything with private WC and shower in the true center of the city. You can save by getting a place with the bathroom down the hall, or staying out of the center.
Personally, I hate to waste precious holiday time getting to the action, so I would recommend staying in the center if at all possible. If the room prices are too high and you don't want to stay in shared-bathroom situation, consider an Amsterdam B&B. A B&B here is actually just an apartment that someone is renting out, and occasionally you can find deals better than the hotels, although, sadly, the B&BS are catching up in price.
The Location - Amsterdam hotels are extremely liberal in their definition of "close to the city center." Be very careful, here. Look at the map of Amsterdam (Google Earth is a godsend for this) before you book a hotel. What do they say is the closest landmark? You want to stay inside the canal belt. "The Centrum" is the true center area of Amsterdam. But even there it gets tricky, because there are some areas in the northeastern docks and tracks area of the centrum that, while technically in the "Centrum" -named district, would be a real drag to spend your holiday in, i.e. near few eateries, services or attractions.
"Near Leidseplein" fabulous location, close to bars, restaurants, the prettiest canals, nice homes, shopping CAREFUL: Leidsesquare is not adjacent to Leidseplein. Leidsesquare is in a quiet, rather boring but pleasant area of doctor and lawyer offices and residences next to Vondelpark.
"Near Rembrandtsplein" great location, though the plein itself can get a bit rowdy, but very central
"Near Dam Square" very central, heart of tourism, crowded area, very convenient but gets rowdy on football nights.
"Near Spui" very central, some ugly parts of Spui straat, but not unsafe (relatively), Spui gets better as you move away from Centraal station.
"Near Centraal" be careful. This could mean heart of the red-light district, or Amsterdam Noord, but there are plenty of nice hotels also, near Centraal station.
"near the RAI" means far from everything else. This is a convention center on the outskirts of Amsterdam.
"near Museumplein": be careful. It's a huge plein (plaza), taking at least ten minutes to walk from one end to the other. The north end is closer to the Amsterdam nightlife. The south end meets a very upscale shopping street, PC Hoofstraat, where you'll find designer stores.. Fun window shopping, but total dead zone at night. And while you'll be close to the Van Gogh musum and the Rijk's museum, you'll have to walk a ways or tram it to see the rest of the city and the canals. I don't recommend staying in this area unless you plan to spend all your time in the museums and doing very upscale shopping.
Two hotels I can recommend are Le Coin, near Muntplein and Rembrandplein, and Hotel de Gerstekorrel, near Dam Square.
One hotel I can warn you to avoid at all costs is The Quentin at Leisdsesquare.
I'l love to hear any Amsterdam hotel experiences of yours, and if you have a question about a hotel, drop me a line!