Bar with water views, darts, pool table, drinks, and snacks
Basic hot and cold breakfast included in most rates
Free Wi-Fi throughout the property
Bike rentals available for a fee
Large, seasonal sundeck with hammocks and loungers
Basic rooms with limited amenities and tiny, older bathrooms
Hotel bar lacks atmosphere
Limited breakfast options
Not within walking distance of any major attractions
No full restaurant on-site (but several nearby)
The 175-room, mid-range Botel, a former river cruise converted into a floating hotel, sits by the industrial NDSM Wharf, a growing outpost of Amsterdam’s underground art scene. Rooms have a strong 1990s-boat-cabin feel -- they’re basic and plain, featuring the bare minimum in terms of amenities, and tiny bathrooms with older showers. Views, however, are different from what you get anywhere else in town, and the experience can be fun for some. A small breakfast buffet with hot and cold options is served in a large room with panoramic river views, and snacks and drinks are available at the bar. There isn’t much else in the way of amenities, but rates are some of the lowest for a non-hostel property, and there is free, 24-hour ferry service to the city center. For a more upscale option nearby, consider the NH Amsterdam Noord.
Floating hotel with few frills and a mix of industrial-nautical and cheerful decor
First opened in 1993, the Botel doesn’t pretend to be a luxury cruise ship but rather a mid-range property offering a fun, unique, and inexpensive experience not far from the city center. It is somewhere between a budget hotel and a ferry, with few on-site amenities and frills. The boat closes for cleaning and repairing every 10 years (the next time it’s lifted out of the water will be in 2019), but only common areas have been updated in the last few years. The bar, the breakfast room, and the reception were renovated in 2017 and have contemporary (albeit generic) decor in cheerful colors, but carpets in hallways are stained and worn, and there are few ornaments aside from a few Chesterfield couches in elevator landings.
The combination of basic interiors, competitive rates, and lack of amenities makes it a popular pick among budget-conscious travelers who don’t want to spend tons of time on-site, and most of the guests we saw during our stay were either groups of young adults, or young couples. There was also one family with a child, but while it can be an exciting experience for children, this is not a particularly kid-friendly option. Travelers needing to stay in this area may want to check out the ClinkNOORD, which has a livelier atmosphere, similar rates, and more modern rooms. Those who don’t mind sharing a room may want to compare rates at the Euphemia, which is a tad cheaper and within walking distance of the Rijksmuseum and Heineken Experience. Atlanta Hotel is a good alternative for travelers wanting to stay in the city center -- but some rooms have shared bathrooms.
On the docks across the IJ River from Centraal Station
The Botel is located in the old shipyards across the IJ River from the historic center of Amsterdam. Once an exclusively industrial area, the NDSM Wharf has become an artsy, hipster-friendly district in the last few years, with cultural venues, galleries, festivals, and artist studios. There are a few restaurants within an easy walk of the property -- including one right across the dock from the Botel -- but the area is livelier in the summer than in the winter. A free, 24-hour ferry connects the docks and Amsterdam’s tourist district, and the ride to Centraal Station takes just 15 minutes. At night, the ferry stops farther away from the Botel, but there’s free shuttle service from the dock to the property. There is also a bus stop a seven-minute walk from the hotel. It takes about half an hour to get to the airport.
Basic ship cabins with small flat-screen TVs, free Wi-Fi, and tiny bathrooms
The Botel has 175 rooms, all sparsely decorated and basic. Navy carpets and curtains combine with baby-blue furniture and neon lights to create simple spaces that feel straight out of the '90s. Everything here is more functional than stylish, and the lack of ornaments on walls makes rooms feel a tad cold. The design, however, ties in well with the boat accommodation, and is not much different from what one would expect to find in a budget property in town. While rooms are small and overall plain, they’re also comfortable and have big windows offering river views. Double Rooms have either a double bed or two twins, and Triple and Quadruple units feature bunk beds. There are also five apartments housed in the B-O-T-E-L letters on top of the ship. Each has unique, themed decor (one has a half-pipe for skateboarders, another one a movie screen), but they’re not bookable online.
All rooms come equipped with big radiators that work well (we were there during the coldest winter storm the country had seen in decades and never felt cold), and fans are available in the summer. In-room amenities are basic and limited, with just small flat-screen TVs with movie channels, safes, and alarm clocks. Wi-Fi is free throughout the property. Bathrooms are tiny and rather drab (albeit clean), with linoleum floors, small sinks, and old showers with plastic curtains. Two-in-one shower gel and shampoo is provided.
Lounge with pool table and bar, breakfast room, and sundeck with hammocks
The central gathering point of the Botel is the bar, which serves drinks and light snacks during the day. There are a pool table, a jukebox, and a pinball machine, but we saw few guests there in the evening, and the bar is generally quiet. Vending machines with candy, nuts, and drinks are available on every landing. A small buffet of cheese, ham, breads, pastries, and a couple of hot items is available every morning in a large, sunny room adjacent to the bar and offering pleasant river views. Breakfast is included in most rates. Unfortunately, there's no full restaurant on-site. The sundeck is a popular spot in the summer, complete with picnic tables, hammocks, and loungers.