The best budget hotels in Amsterdam, including cool cafés, capsule rooms and canal views

Volkshotel, Amsterdam
Volkshotel, Amsterdam

A break in Amsterdam doesn’t have to break the bank. Sure, a visit to view Rembrandt and Van Gogh will set you back a bit, but a fluitje of beer while people-watching at a café is only a couple of euros, street food from markets is delicious, and a stroll along the historic canals costs nothing at all. When it comes to hotels, too, budget doesn’t have to mean boring. Imaginative Dutch design makes simplicity stylish; Dutch thriftiness can be fun. Here's our pick of the best budget hotels in Amsterdam.

Southeast of the historic canal area, right at a Metro stop, a block away from the Amstel River, and only 10 or so minutes’ walk from the hip De Pijp quarter. Clever visual references to the building’s history as a newspaper office occur throughout (newsprint wallpaper, archive photographs of Amsterdam’s rebellious counterculture). Colours are bold and bright, with many a quirky designer flourish, and with a lot going on around you – there’s something of the atmosphere of a busy arts centre. Even though the hotel is a tad out of town, the rooms are really good value for the price.

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Located down a side street, in the heart of the canal district, just a hop from the Carré Theatre and the nightlife area of Rembrandtplein. It’s a typical, narrow Amsterdam house with perilously steep stairs, modestly done up but with some eye-catching touches (unplastered walls of original centuries-old bricks, a brightly woven bed-throw). Beds are envelopingly soft, with top-mattresses, and bathrooms are (for Amsterdam, especially in this hotel category) fair-sized. There are hotels in this price-category that offer a little more than Dwars does, but it is good value, given the location and the availability of family rooms.

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Motel One offers imaginative design, luxurious beds and sparky service at a knock-down price. It’s a little out of the centre, but the main sights are easily accessed by public transport, and the airport train stops almost on the doorstep. Amsterdam’s RAI congress centre is across the road. It's contemporary, design conscious and with a strong flavour of Amsterdam: a bicycle-wheel sculpture, flower patterning on carpets and ceilings, guests’ handwritten messages left on a wall of bicycle carriers. An open-plan lobby-lounge occupies almost the entire ground floor, with tulip-shaped easy chairs and sofas grouped in sociable clusters, various quotes from city life on the wall and a cascade of crystal chandeliers hanging from the ceiling.

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CitizenM is really good value if you book well in advance. The hotel – designer chic meets pod hotel – is some way out of town, but there’s a direct tram connection (in under 10 minutes to the centre). The lounge, bar, diner and lobby form a large area with an atmosphere somewhere between a hip café and design-guru's living-room and the rooms, though capsule-like, have large windows and are cleverly designed. All come with tablets, which, in addition to their usual functions, control everything from lighting to the blinds. Wi-Fi is superfast, and movies via the television are free. Bicycles may be also borrowed for free.

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This relaxed, low-key hotel housed in adjacent villas in the well-to-do Oud Zuid neighbourhood is within easy reach of the main museums and the chic fashion quarter around P.C. Hooftstraat. Rooms vary in size from rather small (though never poky) to the (by Amsterdam standards) sumptuously spacious. Those at the back and on the ground floor open onto small, private garden spaces; some higher up have private balconies. A simple continental breakfast is served in the reception/lounge area and there’s an espresso machine for guests’ use in the reception area, plus an honesty bar, open till 11pm.

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An eco-conscious hotel that doesn’t trumpet its credentials, set in a park alongside a decorative red-brick former gasworks (now an arts complex) close to the historic centre, with no-nonsense but elegant rooms, engaged and friendly staff. A small café and eco-friendly goodies shop doubles as reception area, and the adjoining bar/restaurant is very much the terrain of Amsterdammers and creatives from the arts venue rather than having the atmosphere of a standard hotel bar.

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A former newspaper office block turned into student accommodation, a hotel, and studio apartments for longer visits. The tone is hip yet relaxed. Rooms are comfortable and the restaurant offers good value. You’re slightly outside the historic centre, but close to public transport. Inside, the hard glass and concrete lines are brightened by street-art murals, cheerful banners, and pink, plum and turquoise Sixties-style furniture. The student wing offers simple single and double rooms, each with a fitted desk and wardrobe, and a private bathroom (reasonably sized, with a shower). Rooms above the sixth floor, in the front and north side, offer views over Amsterdam.

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This hostel in East Amsterdam is a global nomad’s paradise that brings together sleek hipster home style (cool sofas, private corners, shelves of funky objects) with a vibrant atmosphere that’s inclusive, on-the-go and very, very 21st-century. The top floor is a sprawling, open-plan common room that includes coworking space, hangout areas, games zones (ping pong, of course), a bar and open-kitchen restaurant, meeting rooms and events spaces, where you can join in yoga classes, film-writing workshops and more. Outside is a roof garden, complete with hammocks. You mesh with local Amsterdammers, here for the workspace or simply to join in the vibe.

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No. 377 punches way above its three-star status with its strong interior design that encapsulates quality and good craftsmanship (think sinkingly soft carpets and different wallpapers in each room) and personal service. A walk of five or so minutes brings to the heart of the main canal belt; the Anne Frank House is some 15 minutes' walk away, as is the artsy Jordaan – and some rooms do have a canal view. Bicycles are available for hire – free for the first day, and €15 (£13) per day thereafter, and the breakfasts are excellent, with good coffee, Dutch pancakes, and wickedly tempting cupcakes.

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The former Royal Dutch Navy officers’ mess and quarters in the recently decommissioned naval college terrain is a monument to 1960s brutalist architecture: square, hard-lined, glass, metal and concrete. But it’s set in a shaded lawn, beside the water, with a view of historic ships and the 17th-century Admiralty Arsenal (now the Maritime Museum). An excellent restaurant and a microbrewery add zest – hugely popular with hip Amsterdammers who also sunbathe on the lawn in good weather and dive into the water – and the location makes for something a little different.

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All prices cited are from, subject to change in high season and during popular holidays and events.