Ankur and I figured out that hosteling is great way to travel a little late in life… Just about one year ago! Since then, we have made friends with some really interesting people… students, social workers, artists… people brimming with creativity and friendliness… people who were as keen to know about us and India as we were to know about them and their homeland! We now have friends from Columbia, Argentina, Croatia, Australia …from every continent except Antarctica (for obvious reasons). Never did we think that we would meet so many new people, considering our regular 9-5 jobs, which limits our interaction to a confined set of friends and acquaintances. The whole hosteling experience has made us feel younger and more connected with the world. Why didn’t we stay in hostels earlier?
Hosteling in Amsterdam
We spent two days in Amsterdam in early March. While we thought it was still winter, the locals believed that spring had arrived! We could have stayed with the locals in a bed and breakfast and tried to understand the local fabric. However, for this trip, out intent was to simply have fun. We needed more people like us. Hosteling in Amsterdam seemed perfect!
We spent the our first night in Ecomama Hostel. Ecomama is true to its name… the hostel has taken all possible measures to be eco-friendly. Our dorm window overlooked the canals… a view that some of the best hotels offer. The hostel is in the heart of the city. It takes about 5-10 minutes by tram to get to the touristy areas like the Museum Square and the Red Light Area.
Like any high quality hostel, the rooms were spick and span. What we loved most about this hostel were the bathrooms…every shower cubicle had a small dry changing cubicle attached to it. There was even a little chair to keep your toiletries or your derriere so that you don’t have to struggle as you wear your jeans… very thoughtfully designed! Another thing I can’t stop raving about is the lavender mat that is kept under every pillow in the hostel… aroma therapy to help you sleep better!
The open kitchen and common room had plenty of space. Lamp shades were made of vegetable graters..bicycles hung on the wall and made you feel that you truly are in the ‘bicycle capital of the world’. There was a tipi tent set up in the common room which reminded me of my childhood. As a child, I would take bedsheets and pillows and build a tent of my own in the living room…and now someone has done it for me… life is indeed beautiful! We loved the concept of the ‘Honesty Box’ in the kitchen…pick up anything from the fridge and drop 1 EUR in the honesty box.
We loved the staff here too… we could see how much they enjoyed working here! There is so much that keeps happening during the week… make some new friends …go to a new place of try something new! There was interesting stuff happening when we were there…one night was pub hopping and the other evening was ‘Joint-rolling Mastercalss’! Remember to check whats happening in the hostel before you plan your day!
The Cocomama building used to be a brothel until a few years ago… it is now Amsterdam’s first boutique hostel. Located within walking distance of the Museum Square, this hostel scores really high on convenience and location if you are a museum or history buff. If you want to travel through the city, hop onto a tram …the tram station is opposite the hostel door!
Cocomama had a warm and snug feel to it… like staying in someone’s house. We opened the main door and entered into a small lobby… from behind the door of the cupboard popped up the check-in desk, along with a couple of glasses of wine! Cheers! We were leaving in the wee hours of the next morning… dropping out keys in a box was all it took to check out. And while you are there, look for Joop, the friendly cat. He sure is a handsome feline.
We stayed in the four bed dorm called the Cheese Room, which was on the ground floor. We were glad that we did not have to carry our bags one level above. Our Argentinian dorm buddy had just arrived from South America to explore Europe and was bubbling with enthusiasm. He thought that we looked too young to have crossed 30 and I was totally flattered! We regret having not having taken his email address…. when we left to explore night life (at 10 pm) he was catching up on his sleep and when we left the next day at 5 am, he was still living the weekend nightlife of Amsterdam.
Being in the common area was like being in the living room in a friend’s house. For those who like open spaces, there was a lovely little garden behind our room. The staff specified that it is to smoke ‘cigarettes only’, considering that there are plenty of ‘smoking’ options is Amsterdam.
The night that we were here, there was was a family meal being served… one of the staff members was cooking for all those who miss good home food, sitting around a table with family/friends and merry dinner table conversations. Vegetarians, do not despair..there were vegetarian options available too. The next night, there was a Red Light tour being organised by the hostel at a cost lower than that being offered by various tourist agencies.
Ecomama and Cocomama are two properties in Amsterdam run by Anita and Lotje. The dorms, rooms and bathrooms are spotless …so is the linen. Both hostels have a well equipped kitchen, with a cooktop, microwave, dishes pots and pans. There is a good selection of tea and some good quality coffee to sip on a cold winter day. We liked the concept of the ‘honesty box’ that allowed us to satiate our sweet tooth and hunger pangs at odd hours.
For those who haven’t been introduced to hosteling as yet…
Don’t think that the hostels are meant for back packers only… Ecomama and Cocomama have double rooms with ensuite bathrooms, if that is what you are looking for. Cocomama even has a family room with one double bed and one single bed!