It's a boat and a house!!!
May 8, 2016 4:32 PM   Subscribe

My husband and I will be in the Netherlands for vacation the second week of September. We want to spend at least part of that time in Amsterdam and are intrigued by the idea of staying in a houseboat while in Amsterdam. Please advise us on a few points and would also love to hear your experience if you have vacationed in an Amsterdam houseboat.

We see there is quite a wide range available and also, they are available all over the city. There's a lot of different websites to choose from for booking. The many many choices have left us feeling a bit overwhelmed in choosing.

Would you recommend a certain geographical area in Amsterdam? Are there any pitfalls we should be watching out for as we select the particular houseboat? Anything to worry about in terms of booking? All advice welcome.
posted by Tandem Affinity to Travel & Transportation around Amsterdam, Netherlands (8 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Location-wise, I'd look for something within the canal rings. I checked a rental site and saw a cluster of houseboats around the Blauwbrug, which is just north of the Hermitage Museum -- that's a nice area. I also saw a cluster on the Raamgracht, just south of the Zuiderkerk; that's on the edge of the red light district, so there might be some noise from foot traffic at night.

The Eastern Docklands area would also be okay -- and maybe quieter than the canal rings -- but it's farther from most tourist attractions (Museumplein, Dam Square, Anne Frank House, etc.). I wouldn't go for Zeeburg or the Haarlemmerbuurt unless you find something really special, just because getting from those areas to the most touristed areas can be kind of a pain.
posted by neushoorn at 9:25 PM on May 8, 2016

We stayed in Little Amstel which was lovely and close to the metro, trams, etc.

Really nice hosts and a good breakfast too!
posted by at 11:23 PM on May 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

I hate to, but I recommend airbnb. There's also that I have heard good things about. Airbnb's payment system gives you the best security.

In addition to what neushoorn said, look at the Oud-West which will be quieter, but you're adjacent to the Jordaan and there's good tram service. Lots of great cafes, bars and action in the West right now.

The short term rental market in Amsterdam right now is quite contentious. The rules limit owners to renting no more than 60 days per year. The city is actively (sorta) monitoring short term rentals and have recently focused on houseboats in particular. I've seen places on airbnb disappear suddenly, so it's possible that a place you book might be removed by the time you trip comes around. There's just a degree of uncertainty at the moment. Nothing you can do about it, but proceed with that knowledge.

My friend lives on a woonboot and we spend a lot of time on it. It's really a great way to spend time in Amsterdam.
posted by humboldt32 at 11:49 PM on May 8, 2016

We have done so, twice. Second time via AirBnB. Loved it both times. First time was on Prinzengracht, second time on Lijnbaansgracht, so both fairly central. I would always aim for that area, but then Amsterdam is generally very walkable. Very different kinds of boats, the first one was more of a drifting house, the second one was an actual boat. (The former was roomier, but the latter allowed us to sit/picnic on top of it.) We had no problems, although we did need to call our host during our last holiday to replace the sheets as they smelled of smoke. They did so without grumbles.

We would definitely do it again, and when we do probably via AirBnB.
posted by snarfois at 3:36 AM on May 9, 2016

We stayed in a houseboat that operated as a hostel just east of Centraal. Looking at a map - was further into the city than Eastern Docklands, but still a decent walk to Centraal (though a nice one! past the NEMO science center, library, etc). Can attest to it being a little further from most attractions - it was a decent walk to Centraal to grab a tram, but I can attest to it being much quieter than houseboats we saw further in.

We booked via and I remember being very worried about the legitimacy, neighborhood, etc but was pleasantly surprised with the great accommodations. It was a true houseboat in a residential setting. I might look for something closer into the city next time just for convenience, but I'm sure it would be a trade off with price.
posted by marmago at 4:16 AM on May 9, 2016

I booked a canal house in Utrecht last year through - a quick search of Amsterdam shows a number of houseboats and barges on the site. Booking through the website puts you directly in touch with the owner, but I feel more secure going through a system like this where the owner has a reputation to maintain.
posted by Gortuk at 10:11 AM on May 9, 2016

I too stayed at the Little Amstel! It was really quite wonderful. Walkable to everything.
posted by museum of fire ants at 1:19 PM on May 10, 2016

Followup to my question now that said trip and houseboat stay has occurred. We used airbnb as suggested by humboldt32 and snarfois, in the Oud-West and it was excellent! We poured over the airbnb reviews quite a bit and also booked a backup hotel that allowed reservation cancellations up to the day before the stay (in case of, i don't know, airbnb shutting down our houseboat or the host freaking out for no reason we knew to worry was nice to have the insurance). Five stars and would do again!
posted by Tandem Affinity at 9:27 AM on September 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

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