Hans Brinker Hotel, Amsterdam.
During our most recent weekend break to Amsterdam we stayed at the Hans Brinker Hotel in Amsterdam city centre. The hotel itself is actually more of a hostel and is advertised on most of the hostel booking sites such as hostel bookers and hostel world. We stayed at Hans Brinker in a group of 8 and we had a whole room to ourselves because of this large group size.
The bonus of this hostel for us was that it was cheap and also close to the centre of Amsterdam. Located on Kerkstraat 136 - 138 the hostel is about a 20 minute walk from the main square and the Red Light Area.
A Little Bit of Hans Brinker History
Had I known the history of Hans Brinker before I arrived in Amsterdam I am sure I would have insisted on staying somewhere else! However, as I was not the person responsible for the accomodation decisions I actually knew nothing about the hotel/hostel until it was too late...
Hans Brinker is actually a world famous hotel and even has a book published about it. Sounds good? Yes? Er... No! The hotel is famous for all of the wrong reasons and the book is titled 'The Worst Hotel in the World' The hotel prides itself on its totally honest approach to advertising itself as not being to the highest standards and sometimes not even having toilet roll in the bathrooms. They have a sign in the reception area as a warning to 'clean freaks' that their complaints will be listened to but probably not acted upon and while they do provide clean bedding they don't guarantee a good or quiet nights sleep.
Making the Booking.
Booking the accomodation for this trip was thankfully not my responsibility, but I do know that the booking was made through the hostelbookers.com website, which I have used in the past and I would happily use again as they do not charge any 'middle man' fees for making your reservation with your chosen hostel. Hostel bookers will take the payment of your deposit, which is 10% of the total booking and the remainder is payable upon arrival.
The cost of the hostel was 25 Euros per person per night in an 8 bed dormitory. This price includes breakfast which is served in the common area from 8 until 10am. As there was 8 of us in our group we were lucky enough that we booked it in advance and managed to all be in the same room.
It is possible to simply turn up at the hostel and request a bed, however with this option you might not get the cheapest room as they might be taken and you also run the risk of there being no beds available.
When we arrived at the entrance to Hans Brinker we walked into a very noisy reception area with a reception desk to the right of us. This is where Hans Brinker started to live up to its name...
At the reception desk we were greeted by a member of staff who asked for the name the reservation was made in and asked if we were paying altogether or separately. As there was so many of us and some staying for longer than others we paid separately, this process was easy and done reasonably fast. Then we were told we each needed to pay a 5 Euro deposit in cash for the room key, this would be returned to us at the end of our stay. We paid this and were given our keys. There were two keys on the key ring, one for the room and one for our locker. The key ring also had the room number and the bed number written on it.
During our stay we were sleeping in an 8 bed dorm. The room itself was quite large and had 4 sets of bunk beds placed in each corner of the room. The bunk beds were metal and alarmingly for the people who were on the top bunks there were no ladders and no safety rail to stop you falling off!
The lockers in the room were slim and tall with a shelf at the top and no hooks for hanging anything up.They were a bit battered, the paint was coming off them and the made an awful noise when you opened and closed them, but as long as they locked securely, and they did, I wasn’t too fussed about what they looked like.
The decor in the room was very plain with the walls painted white and a few sets of multi-coloured, but very dirty and dingy looking curtains covering the very low windows. There were a few plug sockets in the room but they were placed randomly halfway up the walls, so if you need to charge your phone for example you would have to place it on something or do some kind of balancing act with it!
The cleanliness of the rooms was actually not too bad. The floor was cold and covered in a dark blue lino, it looked clean and the beds were also clean looking. The bedding was placed in the lockers and consisted of a sheet, a quilt and a pillow for each person. Upon taking the bedding out of the locker and making the bed I felt quite happy that the hotel wasn't as bad as the posters I had read in the reception area and that it must have just been a joke.
Each of the rooms at Hans Brinker has its own bathroom, when I first realised this I thought 'oh good, I'll only have to share a bathroom with the people we know, so it wont be that bad!' How wrong was I?! Upon opening the bathroom door I can only describe the smell as something that my dog did when she had an upset stomach! The stench was disgusting! There was no window in the bathroom to open and we didn’t want to leave the door open to get rid of the smell as it would have overpowered the whole room. It was a no-win situation!
Getting brave and taking a closer look at the tiny bathroom I can tell you that the toilet did not have a cover to the toilet seat, not a major thing I know, but I am a person who likes to close the lid on the toilet when I flush it as I have heard so many tales of 'stuff' from the toilet travelling into the air and around the room when you flush it.
The shower is behind a tiled wall, however there is no shower curtain and the slope of the floor means that the water runs hap-hazard all over the bathroom floor, because of this we had to improvise and make a towel wall with the towels provided by the hostel to stop the bathroom flooding! The shower is easy to operate by simply turning hot and cold taps on and off until you reach your desired temperature. I found the water in the shower was quite powerful and thankfully the water was nice and hot so it wasn't all bad! I think Hans Brinker has taught me how to shower in a record time as the smell of the bathroom was so bad I was in and out like a flash!
There was also a small sink in the bathroom, this had a hot and cold tap but they both seemed to give only cold water and the pipe underneath the sink had an annoying drip which also resulted in a wet floor!
The Common Area and Kitchen
The common area at Hans Brinker is huge! It is located to the left as you enter the hotel and has its own bar area which is open in the afternoons, evenings and through the night until 4am. The furniture in the common area consists simply of large wooden, graffiti covered tables and benches. At one end of the room is a large TV showing mainly sport during the day, while at the other end of the room is a kitchen area which is where you will need to go for your breakfast.
The common area also has an outdoor area for those guests wishing to smoke without leaving the hotel.
There are no facilities for guests wishing to prepare their own food and no fridges for storing your own food either.
A Peaceful Nights Sleep
A peaceful nights sleep would have been nice, however, within about 10 minutes of falling into bed after a long day of sightseeing and feeling extremely tired, I found myself tossing and turning and starting to feel rather itchy. For some reason I didn’t bother to get up and check this itchiness and eventually fell asleep. I woke up a few times during the night due to the noise levels around the hostel and also because the mattress was hard and lumpy which made it generally uncomfortable. In the morning I woke up feeling almost as tired as when I fell asleep and to my horror I found that my arms were covered in a lovely red rash and has tiny bite marks on them, after sharing my alarm with the people I was with we discovered that I was not the only one and in fact 3 out of the 8 of us had experienced the same itchiness and rashes.
At this point there was only one thing to do... complain! We went to the reception area and politely told the lady on reception about our rashes and the tiny lumps looking like bite marks and to our shock she actually laughed and said "oh, that'll be the bed bugs!" obviously Hans Brinker is now starting to live up to its name of the worst hotel in the world! Regardless of this we did manage to get new bedding and thankfully this batch didn’t contain any 'extras!'
So, after that lovely nights sleep it's time for breakfast... well, the words "I'm tempted to go hungry" came out of my mouth when I saw breakfast on the first morning. Breakfast consisted of a choice of about 3 different breads, some plasticy looking, feeling and tasting cheese slices, sweaty slices of ham, boiled eggs and coffee. There was also a selection of butters, jams and chocolate spreads available for your bread. There was no facility to toast your bread and no toast was offered in the breakfast selection. If you wanted cereal or juice then you needed to pay the kitchen staff 1.50 Euros for these items. Needless to say I declined this and took my bread, along with my sweaty ham and plastic cheese to a table to make a sandwich. To my surprise I actually enjoyed my sandwich and decided that breakfast wasn't that bad, even though it looked disgusting!
When we had finished eating we were required to take our plates and cups to the end of the counter and scrape any rubbish into the bin before placing the plates onto the trolley. I wouldn’t have minded this if it wasn’t for that fact that there was a member of the kitchen staff walking around the common area every 5 minutes shouting at the top of her extremely high pitched voice "Can you please take your plates round the corner when you finish, I'm not here to clean up after you!"
It was this same woman, who, on our last morning told us that we needed to hurry up and move after we had finished our breakfast as she needed to clean the tables and finish up in the kitchen so she could go home as she had been there since 7am!
Check Out and Luggage Room
Check out from the hostel is by 10am. To check out you simply need to return your room keys to reception and they will give you your deposit back, this is probably my favourite moment of my whole experience here!
There is a locked luggage room for you to leave your bags in if you wish, but I'm not really sure how this works as once you are checked out you must leave the hotel immediately and you cannot leave your luggage there for the day.
My overall opinion of Hans Brinker is simply one of shock! I know hostels aren't always the cleanest places in the world and they are more for convenience rather than comfort, but I would expect the staff to be at least half friendly and the beds not to have bed bugs. The bathroom hygiene was disturbing and the breakfast was sweaty!
So, after 3 nights at Hans Brinker would I recommend you to stay there? Erm... No! Not unless you simply want to go for the experience and to be able to say that you have stayed at the worst hotel in the world!
Thanks for reading :)