Next time we want to stay in Johnny Jukebox. Or perhaps the White Bike Room. That would be very Amsterdam. Or maybe Danny the Deer, the room designed by the Volkshotel's toilet attendant (and gadget designer) Eva van Halewijn.
The Volkshotel is no ordinary hotel, and is the kind of place that is hard to define. It's not quite boutique, it's not luxury but has luxurious touches. It's not cheap but has some cheap rooms. The only category it falls into is quirky, although in Amsterdam quirky is the norm.
The Volkshotel is a block from the River Amstel on the edge of De Pijp, the cosmopolitan area southeast of the city centre that's a little like a cross between Paris's Latin Quarter and London's Hoxton. The hotel is based in what was a newspaper office, and from the outside retains the functional office look, giving no hint of the creative energy that has gone into transforming the interior.
We had a regular room, 507, rather than one of the nine themed rooms, though nothing about the Volkshotel is regular, from the rooftop sauna and hot tub down to the basement nightclub. For a start, we had a cactus in the room, while some of the walls and the floor had an unfinished, industrial grungy look to them. The outside of the shower cubicle was covered in old newspapers, with a few peek-a-boo gaps for added interest. The corridor walls were decorated with giant blow-ups of newspaper photographs, preserving the building's journalistic history.
As well as a nightclub there's a bar and a casual ground-floor café where you can grab breakfast and where the local hipsters congregate for a fix of coffee and wifi. On the 7th floor is a restaurant, with great city skyline views. There were five beers on tap and the hotel's own bottled beer. 'It tastes of cucumber,' said the waiter, 'which sounds odd but tastes really good!' We settled for a more conventional Dutch Blonde and a Belgian Wheat Beer.
Hotel restaurants aren't always the most exciting places to eat, and often overpriced, but here the poussin stuffed with chorizo and lime was droolingly delicious. Had they rubbed the poussin with chorizo too, or slid some under the skin as well as inside the meat? Whatever they did it worked, and went well with the Mexican-style beans, a chunk of corn on the cob, and of course fries with mayo. The whole bill for two main courses and four beers was a very reasonable €47. After we'd finished, the waiter - who, like all the staff, was amazingly friendly in that amiable Dutch manner - took us onto the terrace and pointed out the lights of various places visible from the hotel, like the Rijksmuseum and the Royal Palace in Dam Square.
With standard rooms available from €79 (with a 'petite' room even cheaper), and a metro stop almost outside the door, we were delighted with our Amsterdam hotel discovery. And next time we've definitely a date with Johnny Jukebox.
Situated on Wibautstraat, the Volkshotel is one minute from the Wibaustraat station on Amsterdam's Metro, with direct lines to Centraal Station.
Tel: 0 20 261 2100
Mike Gerrard is an award-winning travel writer who has written widely about Amsterdam, including guidebooks for publishers such as Insight Guides, Thomas Cook and the AA. His own guide, Amsterdam and Beyond, is available from Amazon, and he recently wrote Eat in the Art of Amsterdam for the Huffington Post..
All photos (c) Donna Dailey.
For more information on visiting Amsterdam see the Iamsterdam website.