Finding Family Friendly Accommodation in Amsterdam

Deciding where to go, that’s the easy bit of any holiday.  Where to stay; always a bit trickier.  We booked our ferry crossing to the Hook of Holland and now the Netherlands were our oyster.   Finding family friendly accommodation in Amsterdam was my mission.  But where to start?

Finding Family Friendly Accommodation in Amsterdam

What was I looking for? Central, comfortable and not too expensive. I confess that when I started what I really, really wanted was a houseboat.  I had read Katy from Untold Morsels account of her Dreamy Stay on a Houseboat in Amsterdam and wanted a dreamy stay of my own.  The houseboats we found were either in the wrong place or too expensive for our budget. So back to the drawing board. There are many hotels in Central Amsterdam and lots come with a big price tag.

Amsterdam canal scene with houseboat

My criteria for a family friendly place to stay in Amsterdam

In an ideal world we wanted to be near the centre, so no long tram rides at the beginning and end of each day.  Our central accommodation was to be either an apartment or a family room and most importantly of all, not too expensive.  We were travelling in August, peak season when prices would be at their highest.  All the apartments on offer seemed to be either miles away or out of our budget.  Most hotel rooms were hundreds of pounds a night.  Then I spotted one that came in at a shade over £100 per night.  Excellent.  Only problem was that Clink Noord is a hostel.  Not only that, it is a private hostel and those are new territory to me.  The first time I visited Amsterdam, when I was 18, I stayed in a dorm room at the StayOkay Stadsdoelen and it was brilliant.  Hmmm …. maybe the ideal place to stay when you are 18 is not the ideal place to stay when you have two teenagers of your own in tow.

The large gulf in price between Clink Noord and all the other family accommodation that I had found in central Amsterdam prompted me to do some in-depth research.  First of all, where is it?  Behind Centraal Station on the other side of the River Ij.  When I first visited Amsterdam we used Centraal Station a lot but what was behind it never crossed my mind. That’s because back in the twentieth century (yes I am so old that I was a teenager in the last century) what lay behind the station was docks and that was not a place where I needed to go.  Now those docks are being redeveloped.  There is a free foot ferry that shuttles back and forth across the river.

Ferries crossing the river Ij in Amsterdam from Centraal Station to AMSTERDAM NOORD
Ferries crossing from Amsterdam Centraal to Amsterdam Noord

Extensive use of google maps showed me that the Clink Noord building was surrounded by building sites, or was when the pictures were taken.  What did other people say about Clink Noord?  The reviews left were mainly very positive.  A few mentioned the noise from the building sites.

View of Clink Noord Amsterdam from above
View of Clink Noord Building taken from A’dam Eye

Now it was time to run the idea past Mr CW.  Initially he wasn’t keen on the idea of a hostel.  I showed him pictures of the room which looked basic but had a double bed for us and bunks for the teens.  Next I showed him the price and more crucially the price of the next cheapest place.  So we clicked on the button and booked.

I confess that I remained a little nervous about our choice.  The StayOkay Stadsdoelen hostel had been perfect when I was 18 but it was party central.  When we were checking in at Clink Noord, I noticed that there was a jar of free earplugs.  Hmmmm, still only four nights.  Our room was compact and had no outside windows, rather just one narrow window overlooking a glazed in atrium.

Clink Noord Amsterdam interior courtyard
Interior courtyard that our room overlooked

Having dumped our bags we set off to explore.  The building used to be the Shell research laboratories and retains some fine stained glass panels from that time.

Stained glass window in Clink Noord Amsterdam
Stained Glass in the Clink Noord Stairwell

The bottom two floors are given over to communal space with a bar and restaurant in the basement and all the sofas, air hockey and desks that you could want on the ground floor.  Mr CW had some work to do and was able to set his laptop up and tap away.  I was able to lounge on a sofa and read while the teens were able to use as much wifi as they wanted ….. perfect.

Seating area in Clink Noord Amsterdam
Downstairs lounge area

There were a few other families staying, even the odd business person, but most of the guests were young.  As for being party central, if it was then we didn’t see or hear it.  Our room may have been compact but that didn’t matter as the public spaces were where we spent time.

In the basement there are communal kitchens. In the morning the eating area is given over to breakfast which can be purchased for £7 per person. Basic and self service but every thing you need to set up for a day of sightseeing.

What is there to do in Amsterdam Noord?

One of other frets was that finding evening meals nearby would be a problem.  Once again my fears proved groundless.  We never walked more than a few minutes to find dinner.  As far as the teens were concerned, Amsterdam Noord was the perfect place to stay; on the first night they heard and saw people on a giant swing at the top of the neighbouring building.  Soon they had discovered that this was ‘Over the Edge’, Europe’s highest swing, and it became their urgent desire to try it out.  You can read about our visit to the A’DAM Lookout here.   Even better at the base of the swing we found The Butcher Social Club which served, what have been voted in the CW family to be the best burgers we have ever eaten.

Adam Lookout swing
A’dam Swing

Just a short stroll along the river bank is a striking new building that houses the EYE Filmmuseum, the Netherlands’ national museum of film.  The museum has cinema screens and a fascinating collection of film making equipment from all ages.  It also has a restaurant with an outside terrace, which was where we chose to have a special meal to mark the end of our holiday watching the sun set over Centraal Station.

If we were visiting Amsterdam with the teens I wouldn’t hesitate to stay at Clink Noord again, whilst not luxurious it is comfortable, buzzy and well priced.  Indeed it is family friend accommodation in Amsterdam, especially if you have teens in tow. For those travelling with tots, I would look for somewhere else as there are lots of stairs and big spaces.  When Mr CW and I return for a grown up romantic break maybe that will be when we get to stay on a houseboat.

  • Clink Noord, Badhuiskade 3, 1031 KV Amsterdam
  • Private and dorm rooms available
  • Prices vary with time of year and type of room booked
  • Walking distance from Centraal Station via a free foot ferry
  • Breakfast available £7 per person
  • Free Wifi

Whilst we were staying in Amsterdam in addition to riding Europe’s highest swing, took a canal cruise, visited the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum.

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