In 2008, the 175-room Amstel Botel — an erstwhile river cruiser converted into a floating hotel — was moved from its former location near Amsterdam Central Station to the NDSM Wharf, a former shipyard that is now a popular cultural hotspot in Amsterdam-North.
Oosterdok, the ship’s former location, was — and is — undergoing a metamorphosis in which there no longer was place for the
eyesore huge boat.
Amstel Botel and the City negotiated long and hard over an alternative location. The management said it was sad about the fact that their hotel on a boat is no longer located just outside of Central Station. However, then manager Martin Been was pragmatic about the move, pointing out that the new location offers many advantages and opportunities.
The NDSM Wharf is a colorful and vital dockside area. A center for underground culture in Amsterdam, it houses workshops and artists’ studios, hip cafes and restaurants, exhibitions and performances. Among others the ‘media wharf’ houses MTV, Robodock, and the IJ-festival.
Docked at the wharf’s piers are a number of historical ships — from a Russian submarine to ‘pirate’ Radio Veronica’s Norderney, and from an old minesweeper to the majestic 3-master, The Pollux, formerly a maritime training vessel and currently a café/restaurant [Update, May 2015: the ship is now owned by the owner of the Botel].
You’ll often see Greenpeace ships as well, as the organizations has its HQ on the NDSM terrain.
Many NDSM business owners — and visitors to the area — were not happy with the City’s plans to move the Amstel Botel to its new location. They cited the fact that the huge, stark-white boat was — and is — an eyesore, especially since it dwarfs other ships docked at the wharf’s piers.
However, as often is the case, economic considerations trumped aesthetic concerns. Rumor had it that the hotel boat would be transformed into a “colorful work of art” — with pundits claiming that meant the botel would then become a colorful eyesore.
But the boat remained as white as a dentist’s coat.
Then, in March 2015, the floating hotel managed to turn itself into an even bigger eyesore when the word ‘BOTEL’ was spelled out in huge, 6.5 meter (7 yard) tall letters hoisted onto the roof of the boat.
Visible even from Central Station, the letters also serve as 5 unusual hotel rooms.
The letter B features a halfpipe for skaters. The interior of room O is inspired by the erotic novel, Histoire d’O. The T houses the elevetor is is also the Captain’s Room. Designed in coöperation with the Eye Film Institute Netherlands room E includes Holland’s smallest cinema, and the letter L is is an oasis.
Unique? Yes. Nice? No. Not if you ask us.
We applaud the City for cleaning up Damrak — part of the ‘Red Carpet’ into Amsterdam.
Forcing businesses to remove a virtual forest of gaudy, glaring and over-sized advertising signs was a good move. Allowing the Botel to then blare its name across the IJ was a bad decision that may well set a precedent resulting in ‘Damrak at the IJ.’2
Small consolation: the letters were originally envisioned as each having a different color — a concept the city rejected as too Toys “R” Us-like.
Good Hotel Choice
Eyesore or not, the Amstel Botel remains a popular budget hotel choice that attracts young and old It gets mostly positive reviews. Expect a basic hotel, smallish rooms (which some say have rather thin walls), and a very friendly staff.
And while its current location may not be as close to the city’s center as before, downtown Amsterdam is only a free, 10-minute boat ride away. This map
Standard rooms, about 16²m (about 172² ft), start at €84 — while the letter rooms, at 45²m (484² ft), are about €200.00.
Free WiFi is available throughout the hotel.
For your convenience, you can book the Amstel Botel right here.
Check out Amsterdam hotel guide for more information.
This entry was first published on January 10, 2008. We update it on a regular basis.