If you weren't paying attention, you'd probably miss The Hoxton.
The dollhouse exterior blends in so well with Amsterdam's surrounding canal houses, it would be easy to saunter by without a second glance. In fact, I almost did. An inky black awning bearing the words "The Hoxton" was the only thing that gave the hotel away as my sister and I approached. That and the booming music coming from the belly of the place. Apparently this hotel is more than just a bed for the night.
The first Hoxton hotel launched in east London back in 2006, with a second opening in Holborn last autumn. The Amsterdam offering marks a new dawn for the company as it ventures beyond the UK for the first time. The result? An almost painfully trendy hotel in the Netherlands' hippest city.
The building was originally five separate canal houses, one of which was home to the city's mayor in the 17th century. There are 111 bedrooms in a variety of shapes and sizes, ranging from a tiny Shoebox to a larger Roomy. Also on offer are three individually designed Concept rooms, all with different quirks, including the rather sweetly named Tubby, which is tucked away in the attic, with a free-standing bath beside the bed.
Like its British cousins, the hotel also has a series of rooms (the Kitchen, the Study, the Games Room) which are available to rent for things such as photo shoots and weddings. That said, on the Sunday I was there, the Kitchen was being used as a less-than-glamorous luggage dump. The rest of the hotel is a mishmash of various bits of vintage. The dimly lit common area (read: extremely crowded bar) has distressed leather sofas perfect for sinking into after a long day pounding Amsterdam's cobbles. Large rugs hug the dark wood floors and boldly patterned accessories adorn the seats.
In the middle of this medley is a spiral staircase leading up to a mezzanine library, complete with bookshelves, as well as large communal tables for both guests and non-guests to work at. It's hard to envisage with the beat vibrating downstairs, but this could be a nice place to come with your laptop in the morning – before the party crowd arrives.
The beauty of Amsterdam is that everything is within walking distance – or cycling distance if you feel brave enough to hit the tramlines on two wheels. The hotel has free bikes for guests if you do. Alternatively, you can walk to the lusciously green Vondelpark and cycle there. Try MacBike, opposite the park, where bike hire costs €11 for three hours (0031 20 620 09 85; macbike.nl).
The Van Gogh museum is a short walk away from the park. A new exhibition, "Munch: Van Gogh", opens on 25 September, celebrating the affinity between the two artists. Tickets cost €17 (0031 20 570 5200; vangoghmuseum.nl).
For an after-dark aperitif, head to the Jordaan district, a lively mix of restaurants, bars, and clubs all within stumbling distance of the hotel.
We shared a Cosy bedroom with a canal view. It was a little on the snug side; the square layout and high ceiling gave the impression of sleeping at the bottom of a very tall cardboard box. But the bed was comfortable and the canal view more than made up for the lack of space. We spent a few silent moments each morning watching the boats below.
I immediately fell in love with the room's industrial-sized tea mugs (no fancy china here) and the drawer entitled "Crap", which holds pens, paper, and a bottle opener. There's also a mini-bar stocked with free milk and water, although if you fancy something a little stronger, the Hoxton has a discreet shop behind its check-in desk where you can load up, tuck shop-style – all at high street prices.
Breakfast was delivered to our bedroom by the "breakfast fairies" after we hung our "breakfast bags" on the outside door handle. Come daybreak the bags had been filled with a yoghurt and granola pot, a banana, and a bottle of orange juice. Eggs and bacon on toast at the hotel restaurant, Lotti's, was better but cost extra.
The Hoxton, Amsterdam, Herengracht 255, 1016 BJ Amsterdam, Netherlands (0031 20 888 5555; thehoxton.com)
Twin room from €159, including breakfastReuse content