A stylish hotel with a budget price tag:
Two friends in need of a short break away from the everyday. An opportunity to chat and catch-up. Somewhere different, but not hard work. Maybe a touch of luxury. On a budget. Length of stay: 24-hours.
One hour and fifteen minutes flight time from Heathrow and we are in the transport hub of Schiphol airport railway station, buying our train ticket to take us to our micro-break in Amsterdam!
I’d been offered a room at the Motel One Hotel, in the developing Zuidas business district, across the street from the Amsterdam RAI Exhibition & Convention Centre; a very easy, ten minutes, 4 Euro journey from the airport. Emerging from RAI station the concrete walkways leading to Europaboulevard are somewhat disorientating but we knew we’d arrived at Motel One when we saw the funky furniture assembled outside and hotel guests basking in the sunshine.
Under the motto “Great design for little money”, the Motel One concept offers, in inner-city locations, a low budget hotel with an emphasis on design and high service standards.
One of Motel One’s signature features is the One Lounge, a beautiful public space created for relaxation, a nod to the brand’s philosophy of taking elements of the grand hotel experience and re-presenting them for the budget traveller. The furnishings include the famous Egg chair by Arne Jacobsen, presented in Motel One’s corporate turquoise, and the ARCO lamp by Achille Castiglioni, both design classics creating the contemporary style linked to the Motel One brand.
Each hotel’s One Lounge is unique, however, taking elements of the destination to create a sense of identity with the local area. In Amsterdam, this public space is a joyful celebration of Dutch icons: a delightful room divider fashioned from bicycles; a quirky artwork formed from bicycle wheels hanging on the breakfast room wall; the bar front depicting the architecture of Amsterdam’s famous canal-side houses and a wall of beautiful, stylish still-life photographs of vibrant-coloured tulips. The lighting is fantastic. You’re unlikely to see this many chandeliers gathered together in one place outside of your local lighting department store! But it works, it’s beautiful, it’s sparkly and it’s fun.
The tram stops right outside the hotel and in 15 minutes we were in the centre of town. Amsterdam’s transport system is straightforward and reliable. A 24-hours ticket costs 7.50€ but for the less organised you can still buy a single ticket from the tram driver for 2.90€ and it’s valid for an hour. I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t think of Amsterdam with affection. It’s charming with its picturesque canals, bridges, distinctive architecture and flashes of floral colour around every corner.
As you would expect from a multi-cultural city, Amsterdam has the diverse food culture to suit every taste and budget. We were after fish, and happily came across The Seafood Bar in Spui, established by a fishmonger with a “passion for fish, great wines and the epicurean lifestyle”, we were hooked! This is a very popular place where booking ahead is recommended, but we chose the long wait for a table having seen the platters being carried to those lucky enough to be seated already. The menu deserves several visits offering a selection ranging from finger food at the bar, through to oysters and soups, and on to crustaceans and seafood of every sort, served up whichever way you could wish, fried, griddled or marinated and that’s without addressing the Dutch specialities of mackerel and eels.
Back at the hotel, the lounge was busy with tourists and conference delegates all mingling in the late evening comfort of this convivial environment, but for me bed beckoned with a mission to find out whether Motel One’s attention to detail extended to the bedrooms.
Decorated in a calming colour palate and providing 100% Egyptian cotton bed linen, individual duvets and box spring beds, you’re guaranteed a good night’s sleep. For insomniacs, there’s a huge flat screen TV, in every room, which also simulates a cosy fire, and free wi-fi with i-pads available to borrow from reception. The shower rooms are described as “the world’s smallest spa” in the in-house magazine, due to the quality of the elegant fixtures, including an invigorating rain shower and deliciously fluffy towels.
Following a deep and restful night’s sleep, the busy breakfast room was a lively start to the day. The well-stocked buffet breakfast offered lots of choices including fresh pastries and local breads, cheeses and cold meats.
Our plan was to take the train back to Schiphol and then take the shuttle bus to Keukenhof gardens to see the wonderful tulip displays before returning to London on a late flight. As we walked back to the train station we agreed that Motel One had been the perfect budget hotel for our micro-break. Its location provided hassle-free travel from airport to centre, and also out of town to experience more of Holland. And the hotel itself had lived up to our hopes of enjoying a touch of luxury at a budget price.
Jenny was a guest of Motel One, Amsterdam