If you’re on the lookout for an unusual and unique place to stay in Amsterdam, then you can stop your search now: here’s how you can stay on a boat in Amsterdam, for an unforgettable and incredibly epic Dutch experience! After all, there’s nothing quite like waking up on the water in the capital of the Netherlands, ready for a day of exploring the countless canals, museums, and wonderful foodie scene that the city has to offer…
A history of the Amsterdam Houseboat
Explore the Dutch capital for any length of time and you’ll soon notice that the Amsterdam Houseboats are a firm staple of the canals that loop their way around the central parts of the city.
Much like everything else in Amsterdam, the history of the Amsterdam houseboat is one intertwined with innovation and a constant need for extra space for an ever-expanding population.
In the beginning of houseboat history, retired ship owners who wished to live in the city with their families would simply moor their boat and continue on as normal, living aboard their ships.
And then, following WWII, there was an incredible shortage of housing in the city. Once more, the people of Amsterdam turned to the boats and ships to find cheap detached housing.
By the 1960s and 70s, so many boats had arrived, that the City Council had to start imposing limits on the number of Amsterdam houseboats allowed. Nowadays, there are around 2,500 houseboats in the city, with moorings capped at that number.
Many of the original problems of living on the boats have now been solved; with most boats being in permanent positions allowing for mainstream electricity and cable. Since 2005, all houseboats have been required to connect to the city sewage. For a closer look at what it’s really like to live on and rent a houseboat full-time, you can always check out the Amsterdam houseboat museum. More details here.
Flash forward to today, and though residents are free to build up as high below or underneath as they wish, their actual plot sizes are limited. As you can imagine, while this is a particularly unique way of life that would certainly not suit everyone, the fact that the number of houseboat rentals are limited this means that the floating home plots are a rather sought after commodity throughout the city!
Here’s How You Can Stay on a Boat in Amsterdam
During our recent getaway to Amsterdam, one of the top highlights of our trip (other than the wonderful sunset boat cruise), exploring the little-known book markets, and eating all of the delicious cuisine, was undoubtedly a unique stay on a houseboat in Amsterdam, i.e. one of the quirky rentals that’s so synonymous with the European city.
We personally booked to stay on the Hotelschip Gandalf and enjoyed a night on the water, close to the central library. And with amenities such as a private bathroom, free breakfast (think unlimited coffee, wonderful water views, and piping hot pancakes), a spacious shared living space, and an outdoor terrace area, we certainly left wishing we had planned to stay longer.
Please note that Hotelschip Gandalf isn’t always available as the boat will leave the mooring for over a month at a time. If you want to book this boat in Amsterdam, then be sure to book well in advance. You can find all the details for Hotelschip Gandalf here.
Houseboat Studio Sooki
Well-reviewed and situated just under two miles from Vondelpark, amenities at this houseboat include highlights like free toiletries, kitchenette, and outdoor terrace where you can sit and watch the world go by. There are also free bicycles available that will help you get around the city. You can find all the details for Houseboat Studio Sooki here.
B&B Amstel Wake-Up
Located in the Zuideramstel district of the city, highlights of this popular hotel (which is situated less than 2 miles away from the Bags & Purses museum) include a terrace, free parking, and complimentary WiFi. You can find all the details for B&B Amstel Wake-Up here.
Located less than a mile way away from the Rembrandthuis (i.e. one of the best small museums in Amsterdam), this incredibly well-situated accommodation is one of the best-rated places to stay in Amsterdam. Amenities of this Amsterdam houseboat include a kitchen, swimming pool access, free WiFi, and many other goodies. You can find all the details for Beagle Houseboat here.
Houseboat Amsterdam Zuid
A well-reviewed boat to rent on the water in the Dutch capital, including amenities such as a BBQ on board and situated around two miles away from Vondelpark, this houseboat in Amsterdam includes 1 separate bedroom, 1 bathroom, and a seating area. You can find all the details for Houseboat Amsterdam Zuid here.