Hostels in Amsterdam’s Red Light District

by Roger

by Roger | February 13th, 2009  



Those looking for a hostel in the Red Light District of Amsterdam might be in for a bit of confusion, so I’ve created this list to help you sort things out. If you are looking for a cheap dorm bed in a real hostel, then you don’t have as many choices as you might think if you go searching on one of the major hostel-booking sites. There are dozens of hostels in this city, and plenty of places to sleep in the Red Light District, but a majority of them are really hotels and possibly out of your price range, or at least more than you probably want to spend.

About the Red Light District itself

If you haven’t been here before you’ll be forgiven for not knowing that this is the oldest and (in some ways) most scenic part of Amsterdam. Yes, there are windows with prostitutes doing business behind them, but that is only a few small sections of the primary Red Light District itself. The rest of this area consists of bars, coffeeshops, sex shops, sex shows, churches, markets, restaurants, and even some new trendy clothes shops.

I’ll mention which of the hostels below are in the seedy areas and which aren’t, so if the idea of staying at a place very near working prostitutes thrills you, then you’ll know where to stay. And if the idea doesn’t sound great, then you’ll have several options below where you can easily avoid all that. There are plenty of attractions in the Red Light District that don’t involve sex, as well as plenty that do.

Amsterdam party hostels versus non-party hostels

In some ways, this whole city is a party, but you might be surprised that most of the hostels themselves are pretty quiet, clean, and mellow inside. It’s easy enough to step outside and walk a block or two and be at a pub or coffeeshop, so the hostels don’t have to be like nightclubs themselves. But if you are specifically looking for a fun place with its own bar and that has a weed-smoking area inside, check out my list of Amsterdam party hostels, some of which also appear on the list below.

Map of Red Light District Hostels

Hostels in the Red Light District

Bulldog Hotel and Hostel

The Bulldog Hotel/Hostel is part of a small chain of coffeeshops throughout the city, but this location is their only hotel. They have their own bar and even a smoking lounge, so this is definitely a bit of a party hostel. It’s also on one of the streets that are lined with sex shops and hookers, so if that makes you uncomfortable then don’t stay here.

If you talk to Amsterdam regulars they might tell you that this whole chain of places is cheesy and touristy, and that’s not completely off the mark, but still, this hostel has a great location, is affordable, and gets high marks from most past guests. If all the above appeals to you then don’t hesitate to book here.

St. Christopher’s at the Winston

This is my favorite hostel and hotel in the city for several reasons. It has an excellent location on a pedestrian-only street that is packed with bars, coffeeshops, and restaurants, but it doesn’t have any prostitutes or sex shops right on this street (though they can be found just around the corner). The place has an excellent bar with great drink specials, which is also true of every other location of this London-based chain, and they also have a large patio that allows smoking of cannabis, as long as you aren’t disturbing anyone (you aren’t).

The hostel part isn’t huge and it gets booked up before almost every other dorm-hostel, so you should book early if you can. The whole place feels like an art hotel, and the staff is friendly and really cool, which contributes to this place always being packed. They also have many private hotel rooms, including some with many beds, so if you are coming in a group of 3 to 5 people you might actually get a good deal on a large private room instead.

Heart of Amsterdam

The name of this place could be deceiving for those not wanting to be in the Red Light District, because this place is in the heart of the sex district, and not everyone’s cup of tea. The location is great if you are here to party, though the hostel itself isn’t really much of a party inside. The prices are good and it gets good reviews from past guests, though it’s not one of my favorites.

This place usually doesn’t book up as quickly as some of the others on this list, so it’s a good option for a fun place if you are coming on a busy weekend coming up. The rooms are gimmicky, each themed after a different movie, so that can be kind of a laugh when you are drunk or stoned. But if you don’t want to be near the prostitute action, book elsewhere.

Durty Nelly’s

This hostel and hotel is in an excellent location on the pedestrian-only street that is lined with coffeeshops and pubs, but there are no prostitutes or sex shops right on this road. It’s between St. Christopher’s and the White Tulip, and all have great access to all the fun stuff in this area without being seedy. There are hotel rooms as well as dorms and there is a cool bar on the bottom floor, but the upstairs part isn’t really a party place, and it’s not smoke-friendly like a couple of the others.

This is a good place to book if the best ones on this list are full up, and the dorm beds are cheap when they are available, so it does have quite a bit going for it. There’s no common room for hostel guests, so it’s not a great place to hang out to make friends, but this place has plenty of fans and stays busy with repeat guests, so it could be worth a try.

White Tulip

The White Tulip is in the heart of the Warmoesstraat pedestrian-only street, just down the block from the St. Christopher’s hostel mentioned above, so the location is excellent, especially for those not wanting to be in the sex district. They have an Irish pub downstairs that also serves food, so this is a great place if that appeals to you, but it’s not as smoke-friendly inside as some of the others.

Their beds are cheap if you book far enough in advance, and this place gets decent reviews, so you could do a lot worse, especially if some of the more popular places are all booked up.
>>More information and booking of the White Tulip Hostel

Stayokay Stadsdoelen

This is an HI hostel that isn’t exactly in the Red Light District, but it’s a very short walk away in the same neighborhood. So this place is big and quiet, and not a party hostel at all, but it has some of the cheapest dorm beds in the city, and for that reason it tends to get booked up very early.

It doesn’t get high marks from most past guests, so I’m guessing that many people book the cheapest place they can and then are disappointed that it’s not the party hostel they assumed it might be. If you are looking for a cheap and mellow place with a really good location that is close to, but not in, the nightlife district, then this place might be right for you.

Hostel the Globe

This place is on the budget end of Amsterdam hostels, and the location is great if you don’t mind being in the heart of the sex district, but it wouldn’t be one of my first choices if I were finding a hostel for my friends. The area around this place is wild and there are plenty of prostitutes and sex shops close by, and they have their own 24-hour bar, so those not wanting to sleep might enjoy this place. But it gets low marks compared to most other hostels in the area, so you’d probably want to book elsewhere if you can find a bed available.
>>More information and booking of the Hostel the Globe

Travel Hotel

This place has cheap beds and a great location, just one block away from the nightlife pedestrian-only Warmoesstraat street, but aside from those features this place is hard to recommend. The location is fantastic, and it’s even a bit farther from the sex district that almost all the others on this list, but it tends to get consistently poor reviews from past guests, so don’t expect much.

If you are looking for a centrally located dorm bed and most of the others on this list are full up, this place should be fine. But next time book a little earlier and you’ll be glad you did.
>>More information and booking of the Travel Hotel


{ 1 comment }

Brian February 25, 2009 at 10:02 am
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I stayed at St. Christopher’s in Amsterdam and had a good time. Definitely a party atmosphere but you can get away from it in your room. Lots of activities close by and a 10 minute walk from the main train station.

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