If you’re looking for a place to stay with a home from home vibe, the Bulldog hotel should your first choice.
Where most people might associate the Bulldog brand with weed, this shouldn’t put you off. It is, after all, one of the first five star hostels in the world, and attracts people from all over the world. The rooms are clean, and like many hostels now, dorms aren’t the only rooms available. There are also 34 private rooms, and if you’re looking to spend a bit more you can also rent out an apartment.
The Bulldog Hotel has been around since 1996 and has gone through several changes since including renovations and refurbishments. The Bulldog brand has been around even longer. General Manager Jim Zielinski said `Since 1975 the owner Henk de Vries tried to do more than just selling weed and hash and create a surrounding for young people to feel comfortable, experiment of course, and meet each other.’
You can definitely see this vision in the lounge downstairs and the roof terrace, which has a bar during the summer months. In the lounge there is a very social atmosphere. With groups of young people enjoying themselves, playing games, having a smoke or watching a film, it is a popular choice for travellers staying there. The bar is spacious and also has a pool table, wifi, and reasonably priced drinks and food. The lounge was last updated in 2011, when they added more sofas in all of the corners, and changed the lighting which gave it a much more relaxed feel.
It helps that the staff are so welcoming and friendly and will come over to make sure you’re ok if you’re sat on your own (there are 38 people working there, with 17 different nationalities, which is an extra bonus.) Many of the staff have been working there for 8 or 9 years. General Manager Jim said `Together with this location, the way the Bulldog exists already for 38 years, it’s a family you know?…There’s never a boring day’
`Backpackers come here in several ways. They are brave. They have been in an aeroplane for 20 hours, or in a train, or in a bus, they travel for hours, they walk for hours, they maybe get lost, maybe they pay too much for the taxi, or they eat something too expensive and then they come here….they should feel home immediately.’
The hotel’s location is a short distance away from Dam Square and it sits on the edge of the red light district, so it’s an ideal base to explore Amsterdam from. It is in a safe neighbourhood, it is easy to find, and it is a short walk from Central station. This hotel is all about the relaxed vibe, and this is helped by their strict policy which doesn’t allow for hen or stag groups, sports groups, or male groups of more than six people. You also need to be over 18 to stay, so there are no children anywhere in the hotel.
The building itself is much bigger than it looks. There are four floors housing 14 dorms, and 34 private rooms. With dorms ranging from eight to twelve beds, there are all female dorms available as well as standard mixed dorms. The rooms are reasonably priced, and inside there are a mixture of bunks and single beds and most importantly, the rooms are clean. If you’re worried about security there are lockers in each dorm so you can lock away your valuables. All of the dorms have a private bathroom as well, complete with hairdryer. You can also hire private rooms, which are quite spacious, and if you choose the more luxury rooms, there are televisions with a Wii console!
There are also nine apartments which are spacious, airy and bright. Designed for groups between two to five people it includes a kitchen, a generously sized lounge and a bathroom.
The Bulldog Hotel has all of the amenities a traveller needs, including a 24 hour reception, wifi throughout the hostel, washing machines, dryers and most importantly an area to socialise – the Lounge Bar.
With a company motto of `Nothing is normal, everything is comfortable’ you can definitely see that this rings true – the rooms are clean, the staff are friendly, it is in an excellent location and the most important thing, is that it still manages all of this even for those who are on a budget.
Prices range from €27 for a bed in a dorm room, which is the going rate for most hostels in the centre, up to €355 for an apartment (depending on the season, and number of people). As always, the prices fluctuate throughout the year.