There is a side to Amsterdam that few tourists are able to experience: they might walk the streets, visit the famous, and drink coffee in the pavement cafes, but they’ll never glimpse beneath the surface of city life. To dig deeper, you need an Amsterdammer to invite you aboard their floating home moored along the city’s iconic canals and docks.
For less than the price of a mid-range hotel, you can check-in for a night onboard a luxury houseboat. A warm welcome from your host awaits, and the experience offers far more than simply a bed for the night. Here are three suggestions.
Upper Cabin, Oosterdok
What: Upper Cabin is onboard a barge moored at the centrally located Oosterdok, and as the name suggests, you will be sleeping at the top of the boat. There are windows on all four sides of the room and sun on the roof, so whether you are inside or out, you can always watch the other boats go by.
The cabin comfortably sleeps three people in double and single beds, and the bathroom is shared with the affable owner of the boat. You’re welcome to bring your pet aboard too.
Price: from €120 for a couple, and there is a substantial discount for single occupancy.
What’s nearby: Upper Cabin is particularly well-situated for museum lovers as there are three important buildings around the edges of Oosterdook.
The Stedelijk Museum has ever-changing displays of contemporary art. There are important works in the permanent collection (almost always on view) by Mondrian, Chagall, Picasso, and Warhol, as well as a large number of abstract paintings by Markevich, which are well worth seeing if you have an interest in the Russian avant-garde.
NEMO is an interactive museum of science and technology in a spectacular modern building designed by the Italian architect Renzo Piano. In addition to tours and exhibitions, there are demonstrations and lectures, hands-on workshops in the laboratories, and you can take part in virtual activities including power generation, and steering a supertanker.
Scheepvaarthuis is an extraordinary building with curving lines and maritime motifs. Designed by the Amsterdam School in the early 20th century, it is decorated with busts of famous navigators and cartographers, and today houses Amsterdam’s transport authority.
Golden Anchor, Wester park
What: Ten minutes walk from trendy Haarlemmerstraat is the immaculate Golden Anchor houseboat, an upmarket, contemporary living space moored on the side of Western Docks, a short walk from Anne Frank’s House.
The decor is monochrome with features in a dark wood: this is very much a designer pad. It’s a surprisingly spacious boat. There are one bedroom and a private bathroom, and a kitchen which has a dishwasher and a microwave. Free Wi-Fi is provided, and in fine weather, you can sit out and enjoy your breakfast or a glass on the balcony.
Your host will provide two bicycles to help you explore the local area, and also offers a special canal tour with glasses of champagne onboard an eco-boat to help you get your bearings.