“ Warmoesstraat 14. Tel: +31 (020) 627 7499. „
Amsterdam is one of those cities that simply cannot be missing from any Euro-trip itinerary. With the recent Megabus offers in mind my travel buddy and me quickly decided to end our road trip here in style - with a hostel located in the red light right district famous for its 18+ entertainment and the infamous Dutch coffee shops. Hostel Meetingpoint was at the time of writing (Sep 2012) a Hostelbooker favourite with excellent reviews regarding its location, cleanness and atmosphere. With prices ranging from 10£ in low season per bed in a big dorm to 30£ in high season in a small dorm Meetingpoint is good value for money in a city as overrun by tourists as Amsterdam. As with any popular destinations it is highly advisable to book your beds way in advance; although we stayed there right at the end of the tourist season the hostel was fully booked every night. Two types of dorms are offered, 18bed mixed dorm and 8bed mixed dorm - each with bunk beds, lockers and shared bathroom. The hostel facilities included a 24 hour bar serving drinks, breakfast and light snacks; a pool table that was free to use; wifi and internet access via a pc and of course the all-important smoking room next to the bar. Bookings can be undertaking via their website or any commercial travel website.
Our arrival in Amsterdam was less than unfortunate. Used to the heat wave in Paris we boarded our overnight bus expecting sun and warmth upon our arrival in the Netherlands. Turns out that Amsterdam can be just as grey and rainy than the UK on a winter's day. A big plus for the hostel here was its convenient location, with a shot two minute walk from the Central Station we arrived at its doorstep not too frozen at 7am. A member of staff let us in and after checking our reservation allowed us to sit in the bar until our beds were prepared. Check out time is quite late with 10am so we were looking for a good 4 hours wait by that point. Luckily the magic qualities that attract people to Amsterdam made this way quiet fun. Within ten minutes of arriving we had a drunken hostel guest buy us drinks (nothing over vodka to keep you sane after a morning like that) and another one inviting us to the smoking room. Please be aware that it is legal to consume soft drugs (Cannabis and hash) in the hostel but only in the designated smoking area. This was actually very important for us as my travel buddy is not into weed but still wanted to enjoy the hostel bar. At Meetingpoint anyone can have a good time in the bar with a few drinks while the smokers can occasionally retire to the closed off room at the end of the bar, thus not bothering non-smokers.
After a couple of hours wait we finally gave up and went to explore the city. While Amsterdam certainly has a lot to offer we were desperate for some sleep and checked in at 11am on the dot. Our beds were in one of the 18 bed mixed dorm on the third floor. All dorms are on the higher floors so consider choosing a different hostel if mobility is a problem. Having done a fair amount of backpack in both Europe and SEA I was positively surprised by this room. The beds were very comfortable with fresh bed linen that looked sparkling new. No ominous stains or hairs here. Everything in the room looked new and was absolutely spotless. The spacing of the narrow but long room created the illusion that you were sharing with a lot less people and there was more than enough space for packing and unpacking. When it came to storing our backpacks we had two options; rent a locker (oversized oil ton standing next to the beds) or cramp our stuff under the lower bunk. My friend rented a locker for 2 Euros which covered the entire stay. The tons looked quite cool and came with a padlock; unfortunately being made from metal they were somewhat noisy when trying to get hold of your PJs after the pub crawl in the middle of the night. I stored my stuff under my bed, a bit of a squeeze but at least everything was in reach and I never travel with any valuables anyway. The dorms cannot be locked and we were never given a key; however one could only enter the hostel upon showing a member if staff an entrance card who then would buzz us through the front door. Security wise I had no concerns and happily left my Ipod charging in the room without anything going missing. Standard European two pin power plugs are available in the rooms, the hallway and the bathrooms.
There was one men and one women bathroom per floor so we ended up sharing it with 26 people. The bathrooms had two showers and two toilets each which does not sound much but I never had to queue to use either. They are fairly spacious and clean, although there was some mould growing in the corners of the shower cabins. This is something that cannot really be avoided and was therefore not an issue. Apart from that the bathroom was cleaned several times a day and certainly one of the better ones I have seen in hostels. Hot water is allegedly available 24/7 although I had the impression that more often it was luke warm rather than hot.
Let's face it, Amsterdam might have beautiful architecture, lovely bike routes and a rich art history but most backpackers are here for the nightlife. The bar was certainly the heart of the hostel. Drinks are reasonably priced and most people not travelling in groups would sit here looking for a new travel buddy or for a partner in crime to hit up the smoking room. Something that made Meetingpoint stand out to me was that we were allowed to eat a take away in the bar even though the sell snacks. Also nobody complained about a group of lads drinking a couple of beers they brought in from the outside. Amsterdam can be expensive when eating out and with the rain the only option we had was sit in the hostel. The Chinese take away next door offers huge fried rice/noodle boxed for 5 Euro which is a real bargain. Not having a kitchen for guests was the biggest minus point about this hostel. Anyway, I loved the bar! Most people that I ended up chatting to were great and the atmosphere was real nice. The large tables meant that you inevitable ended up sitting with strangers, all of whom more than happy to share a beer or some herbal remedies. On our last night we sat there until dawn chatting about everything from the Australian mining industry to post-Woodstock gigs in California. As a solo traveller it was very easy to make new friends here and groups had enough space to hang out for a drink before or after heading out to the nightlife. Meetingpoint is in the heart of tourist town with various coffee shops right on its doorstep. The red light district is only round the corner and both the sex and torture museum can be seen from the smoking room window. We were very happy with the location and enjoyed a great time here. Even as young female travellers we never felt unsafe when walking back to the hostel during the night. We never witnessed any fights or aggression, only people looking for a good time in one of the prettiest cities in Europe. And even if nightlife is not that high on your agenda you should not discount Meeting point. The free Amsterdam city tour starts here every morning and staff is highly knowledgeable about sights, museums as well as boat and bike rental. All the main shopping streets and the Dam Square are within a five minute walk and there are a fair amount of restaurants and "normal" coffee shops nearby.
I am not going to pretend that I never went into the smoking room. Just as the bar it is a great place to meet like-minded people and have a relaxed smoke (not necessarily weed related) while enjoying the view on Amsterdam city centre. Things like grinders and bongs are available here for free but we had to buy the rest in a coffee shop and bring it back to the hostel. There was always a good atmosphere in the room and often non-smokers just sat around here to keep a conversation started at the bar going. All in all Meetingpoint attracted a mixed crowed of nightlife lovers, stoners and culture fanatics and everybody was equally welcome. My only niggle would be the lack of a more comfortable common room with couches instead of bar tables but hey, you can't have everything. Sitting at the bar we never felt like we needed to purchase anything but tables and chairs are only comfortable for so long. Staying in the rooms to have a chat was nearly impossible as with such big dorms somebody was always asleep in there. Still, I would rate Meetingpoint as one of the best hostels I have ever stayed in and have already booked another stay for December. My highlights here were the great location, friendly staff. cleaness and the common areas. The only major let down was the lack of a kitchen but being allowed to eat outside food made up for that. Highly recommended for anyone visiting Amsterdam!
Meetingpoint youth hostel
1012 JD Amsterdam, The Netherlands
P.O. BOX 10227
1001 EE Amsterdam
Tel. :+31 (0)20 627 74 99
fax. :+31 (0)20-3304774