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Location is important
Amsterdam has a compact center, but the hostels are spread out in quite a few different areas. Most of the cheap hostels and hotels are located near Centraal Station and many of them are directly in the infamous Red Light District just across from the station. But there are other Amsterdam hostels in quite a few different areas, some far better than others. If you book into one of the three main neighborhoods you can usually do the city on foot and you’ll have everything you want at your fingertips.
Below you’ll see a discussion of the pros and cons of each of the three main neighborhoods, and further down the page you’ll find recommended hostels in each of those neighborhoods. The recommended ones all have ideal locations so booking into one of them gives you one less thing to worry about, but there are plenty of other hostels in Amsterdam so you can just use the recommended ones as a benchmark to compare to others you are considering.
Which Amsterdam neighborhood is right for you?
There are three main neighborhoods for hostels and hotels in Amsterdam and the differences between them are pretty significant so you should read the summaries of each area. After deciding which area you prefer you can start with the recommended hostels in each area further down the page. The recommended ones can help you determine a general price range so you can compare other hostels you might be considering in that same Amsterdam neighborhood. The majority of the cheaper hostels are in the Centraal Station area, but there are some decent choices in the other areas as well.
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The general Amsterdam hostel scene
They have more than their fair share of hostels in Amsterdam because this city is a huge draw for young travelers who might not have the funds to stay in a private room. Amsterdam deserves its reputation as a party city so it should be no surprise that most of the hostels here are where some of those parties begin and end. Most of the hostels do have private rooms so they can be a good way to save some money and still have the chance to opt in or opt out of the parties themselves.
Many of the beds in the hostels are in dorm rooms that can house up to 20 people or as few as 4 people. If you are traveling with a small group it’s usually not too difficult to book a whole dorm room for your group, but if it’s just one or two of you you’ll have to be prepared to sleep in a group room to save the most money. If you’ve never done it before it’s probably not as bad as you imagine, but in a city like Amsterdam you can’t expect to be housed only alongside quiet and bookish introverts.
Mostly party hostels
Even the hostel dorms that have strict no smoking and no drinking policies can get a bit rowdy. If you happen to be coming to Amsterdam on a super strict budget and you just want to find a cheap dorm bed but not get involved with the vibe of the parties, you should select your housing very carefully. It would be natural to expect things to be a bit loose and free at a hostel that calls itself the “Flying Pig” so fortunately there are a lot of built-in clues to help you.
However, if you are in Amsterdam to party then the hostels can be a great place to stay even if you can afford a bit more luxury. Whether you are traveling alone or with a group, staying in hostels is a great way to meet up with your fellow travelers. The social nature of this sort of communal living really lends itself to making friends quickly. With very little effort you might find yourself along on a wild pub-crawl or a less-wild coffeeshop crawl with holidaymakers from all over the world.
Private rooms in hostels
The private rooms in the hostels tend to be similar in price and comfort to 1-star hotels. The major difference between the two has to do with whether you want to get involved in the communal part of hostel life (e.g. the communal kitchen and the communal entertainment rooms). If you want to meet people and make friends it can be very tricky if you are staying in a hotel, but it can be tricky not to make some friends if you stay in a hostel for more than one night.
- Centraal Station area
St. Christopher’s at The Winston – This is a combination hostel/hotel in the non-seedy part of the Red Light District. It’s all artsy and very stylish inside and they’ve got their own bar and nightclub, which is quite popular on its own. Beds in their dorm rooms start around €22 per night. This one is highly recommended, but you might have to book well in advance because the secret is out.
Flying Pig Downtown Hostel – This is one of the most famous hostels in the world, and they’ve got a great location in the trendy shopping area just across from the Red Light District and also very close to Centraal Station (less than a 5-minute walk). They’ve got lots of extras including a bar/nightclub of their own. Partly due to its fame this place fills up quickly so book ahead if you can. Beds in their 20-bunk dorms start around €16 per night, but they also have 8-bunk dorms and 4 and 6-bed dorms at higher prices.
Heart Of Amsterdam Hostel and Hotel – Kind of a corny name, but it’s accurate, especially if you consider the Red Light District to be the heart of Amsterdam, which many visitors do. They’ve got a great location and beds in their 12-bed dorms start around €20 per night, but they’ve got less-crowded rooms and even private hotel rooms available at higher prices.
- Rembrandtplein area
Hostel Stayokay Amsterdam Stadsdoelen – It’s not terribly close to Rembrandtplein actually, but this HI-affiliated hostel has some of the cheapest beds in town so it’s worth a mention. Their location is central, but not right on top of some of the main nightlife areas. Their beds start at €10 per night in 20-bed rooms, and HI members even get a discount off of that.
Rembrandt Square Hotel – Okay, so it’s not exactly a hostel, but it’s a really cheap hotel right on Rembrandtplein (Rembrandt Square) so it’s right in the middle of the main nightlife district. Single rooms start at €27 per night and doubles start at €50, which makes this a great bargain for this area, even considering the shared bathroom. They also have rooms with 3 or 4 beds, so it’s a good choice for groups here checking out the nightlife, but not a good choice for people who want serenity.
- Leidseplein area
Flying Pig Uptown Hostel – The sister hostel of the Flying Pig Downtown is fairly close to Leidseplein, but it’s very close to the lovely Vondelpark and Museum Square. The place gets busy and it has a reputation for being pretty rowdy inside, but its neighborhood is very mellow compared to the Red Light District. Particularly during summer, this can be a great location though. Their beds start around €26 per night in 6 or 8-bed dorms.
Stayokay Amsterdam Vondelpark – This HI-affiliated hostel is closer to Leidseplein than the Flying Pig is, and it’s cheaper and less rowdy than that one as well. Their cheapest beds start at €10 per night in their 8 and 20-bed dorms, but they also have 4-bed dorms and private twin rooms at higher prices. And HI members can get a discount off these rates as well. It doesn’t have the cachet of the Flying Pig, but this is an excellent deal if you are looking for a really cheap bed.