This really is an excellent concept and shouldn’t really simply be looked at as a hotel. The entire Ground Floor is both the entrance to the hotel part but also a restaurant and a very finely curated department store.
Whether you eat or shop there or not really doesn’t matter, although the shop is very well done, this is a lot more than a reasonable hotel right on Damrak, it is a memorable experience and in my opinion an excellent alternative.
20 Minutes on the train from Schipol (don’t forget to press credit even if you are using a debit card in the machines or it will not work) and then a five minute walk halfway up Damrak. As everybody knows, or should, location is key in Amsterdam, and this is right in the middle of all of it, perfect.
I was early into town, well before check in time but as usual in this situation will always ask if they can hold bags or indeed check me in. The Exchange was able to do so at about ten in the morning, which was nice.
The entrance to the hotel section is but a slim doorway on Damrak, however it is Number 50 so easy to remember. The reception is like a small booth, and every member of staff that was ever on duty there over the stay were very friendly.
Smiley, actively engaging, full of common courtesy and more; good people.
It seemed to be a young Dutch team running the place. The shop next door is full of limited run Dutch Designer products…although I don’t know and it could be owned by some megacorp, it certainly gives the appearance of being a wholly Dutch enterprise, and that is no small thing to consider when visiting Amsterdam. I probably felt that I visited Amsterdam this time more than I have when I have stayed at the big five star chain hotels.
This was a budget conscious trip, so their standard comfort room was what was booked.
There are not many Hotel rooms you can accurately describe in words, this is an exception.
A 7 x 5 meter room, white walls, grey painted concrete floor. Massive King size bed taking up nearly all of it, a few paces to a “wet” bathroom with a shower in it.
Plates are stuck on the wall and are made to look as if they stitched on like buttons. The stitch colour is Dutch Orange.
The bedding is all brilliant white, the bed is extremely comfortable and there was a big window that butted up to the bed, with a view of not much.
There is a large shelf at waist height that serves as a desk, a safe, and a plastic tub chair to sit on.
It is basic.
But it is very very clean, and very well executed. It feels cosy and warm, there is a TV with loads of channels, wifi is free and super fast. Lovely heated tiled bathroom, with really high end tiles, simple but done well.
At first, and even for the price I thought that the room was a bit too small. It was only after a day that I realised that in reality, even if we stay in a suite, we use very little of the room for ourselves, most of it just gets used as a place to strew the contents of your luggage over.
So even though it was a little bit like a cartoon cell with a massive wall to wall bed in it and not much else…it was absolutely great.
I saw some of the more expensive rooms, and I would stay in them over the prices of the SAS RAD, any of the NH, The Victoria, any day of the week. In fact I should imagine I should change my Amsterdam main stay venue to here.
Personally I don’t think there is any trying too hard...I think the place has true cool…it is new…and I hope they can keep the maintenance up…but right now, for location, price and overall experience I think this is probably the best Amsterdam has to offer.
If you want bell boys and room service then this is not the place for you. If you are expecting to turn up to anything like a model for a hotel you have seen before then you will probably be very surprised.
It isn’t a boutique hostel, it isn't a “Yotel”, it is unique in a very Dutch way.
There are elements to it that lend it to my travelling habits. They don't take cash anywhere, and there are no extras to buy in the rooms, the payment is taken as you check in and you hand in your key as you leave.
Personally I am a bit sick of my own laziness with regards to minibars, and always regret the 50 euro bill for some Pringles and M&M’s, so not having one is fine…there is a shop next door, and a newsagent three steps away. I am sure my days of minibars are over, I am just saying that it isn’t so bad…and no wallop at the end…
I am also sick of waiting in a queue to check out. We all know how horrific and sometimes stressful this can be if you have judged time before a flight only to go to reception to find it fifteen deep by ten wide set against a backdrop of suitcases and coaches outside. Five minutes and the same glances at your watch, and you haven’t moved an inch. The clock keeps going though. So for me, chucking the key, saying goodbye to people that had smiled had said hello being a 60 second process at The Exchange is good.
It is an absolute warren of a place that you are guaranteed to get lost in at least once. There are signs on the wall that say “Lost? Get in the lift” and they are there for good reason, read them and heed their advice. When you get in the lift you are on your own.
The place has bags of charm and charisma, I thought I would check it out on one of my many visits to the city and I will most definitely be going back.
I am almost hesitant to post such a glowing review for fear that it will get too busy…
It does deserve to be very successful though so I will sacrifice my own personal potential room availability options to those of my fellow travellers and the hotel itself.
It won’t be for everyone though…it is Boutique in so much as there is nothing else like it…
I wouldn’t say it was suitable for the elderly, and don’t book one of the small rooms if you have a lot of time to spend in your room doing stuff.
Aside from that, even if you are not sure if it is for you or not, give it a go, you won’t forget it.
At the end of the Day, prior to this gem being opened Central Amsterdam had three types of Hotel, 5 Star – Most of which are hit and miss and all are chain hotels of some description and none of them are cheap.
Then you have the Hostels at the other end of the scale.
Then in the middle range, which is where a lot of people want to aim,; clean comfortable and a place to sleep, there are a lot of very tatty three and four star hotels around most of which will disappoint considering they are also central so still fairly pricey.
Now this place seems to sit somewhere else. You can book a room here that will be much better than the 5 star rooms at the chain hotels, although you wont get the service, or you can book a comfort room as I did, which was less pricey than a four star hotel and have a much better experience than I did staying in the five star NH Barbizon etc etc etc for a week.
It makes wonderful use of the building and it is so fitting with being right on Damrak.
Personally I hope that this lot open up a second Exchange in Amsterdam, if this model is profitable for them, then the offering for travellers is just too good to pass up not to mention the benefits to the city in general.