Booking somewhere to stay Amsterdam has to be by far the most researched and thorough “city scope” that I have ever done. In a city known world wide for its liberal and relaxed way of life including prostitution and cannabis, it’s easy to see why finding the ideal place to stay within the city would be at the top of my list. I didn’t want to find myself in jabbing my excitable finger at a map and choosing just anywhere to stay, as much as the Red Light District and the cities hotspot for nightlife Leidsplein may be appealing as part of a Things to See & Do in Amsterdam itinerary, I wouldn’t like to bump into the late night/early morning revellers on my doorstep when I’m heading out for coffee or to be kept awake until the early hours. On previous trips to Amsterdam I stayed in a third floor newly renovated AMS Suites just off the Prisengraacht and then a little out of the centre on a somewhat bustling road where trams ran day and night, Kinkerstraat. Both enough outside of the “main action” to avoid the lads lads lads outside when you want to retire for the evening but also close enough to walk to the majority of the sights in little under half an hour.
To those that haven’t tried Airbnb before, the concept is somewhat alien. They don’t understand that you stay in someone else’s home or they have a story about a friend of a friend of a friend who once got ripped off on Airbnb or was filmed having sex so no, absolutely not, they’ll never use them. For those who have tried Airbnb and haven’t been filmed having sex, the majority are full of favourable reviews. I’ve travelled with Airbnb 3 times at the time of writing this and have another booking in the works in the next couple of weeks. I love the variety of accommodation it offers and the ability to spend just a few days in the heart of a city, often away from generic tourist spots and for a fraction of the price of a major hotel.
With my favoured areas in mind and a seemingly very busy few days in Amsterdam based on available properties I came across De Niuewe Lelie. Whilst not a full apartment as I was looking for, this self described “romantic attic” in the trendy & residential Jordaan owned by photographer Jan and his wife Iris seemed ideal. After numerous favourable reviews,loving the sound of the surrounding area and the attic being just under budget we sent Jan a request to book us in for 3 nights at the end of September.
With an early flight and the prospect of check in after 5pm after a long day trudging the city with suitcases and sleepy eyes, Jan messaged to say that HURRAH! His wife could meet us at the apartment at 11am. Iris greeted us at the apartment situated just a small walk from the Anne Frank Huis with a small cardboard box containing a birthday cake for Dan, plates and cutlery and led us through their beautiful home to the private attic where we were to spend the next 3 nights.
Situated atop a private and narrow flight of stairs 3 floors up, the cosy but homely attic was an airy and bright space with double bed and standard amenities such as coffee machine, fridge, TV, radio and wifi. The luxury bathroom boasts two sinks (hers and hers, I need a lot of space), monochrome tiled wet room shower with plenty of hot water to refresh after a day of pounding the pavement of the Dam.
Jan and Iris’ B&B (without the B) is akin size wise to a hotel room with ensuite and is the perfect size for base camp with spectacular views across the neighbourhood. What it has that a hotel lacks however is a lived in home from home feel and certain personal touches courtesy of it’s thoughtful owners. Amsterdam literature (presumably collected from previous occupants), a guide to the local area including the best places to eat and drink and token everyday items such as painkillers (for the morning after the night before), shampoo, bottle opener, sanitary items and deodorant.
The jewel in the crown however is the Jordaan neighbourhood in which the house is situated, the most beautiful part of the old city centre. From the attic there are magnificent views of the facades of the surrounding houses and the ‘Westertoren’, the nearby church and the house is a short walking distance from bars places to stop for a bottle of Le Chouffe, a glass of red wine, a meal or even a slice of Amsterdam’s traditional apple pie. There’s even a couple of nearby coffee shops, a pharmacy, convenience stores and even hairdressers on the doorstep. In the Jordaan you feel very much within the hubbub of the daily life where locals talk animatedly, hold business meetings in the local pub over bitterballen (a Dutch delicacy) and many are more than welcome to offer directions to tourists stopping by or recommend places to eat.
We fell in love with the area on our first day and it wasn’t long before we shunned the hecticness of the tourist sights for this hidden gem and the comfort of our attic.