Imagine if La Presse moved. That within its walls settled a group of nostalgic creatives, who decided to transform its premises into a hotel. Welcome to the Volkshotel, which will celebrate its 10th anniversary next year, a place for tourists and locals that is as unique as it is festive in Amsterdam, with nods to its rich journalistic past included.
It is located on a street that was once among the ugliest in Amsterdam. A street with an unpronounceable name, Wibautstraat, half an hour’s walk from the center, four small metro stops from the station. A corner for a long time more or less impersonal (although today full of life) where a handful of local dailies once stood, including the Volkskrant, the people’s newspaper, and to this day one of the largest and most progressive Dutch daily newspapers.
At the beginning of 2000, the neighborhood’s media moved east one by one, leaving, among other things, this huge building vacant. Worst: in ruins. A building, it should be noted, considered in another life as one of the most modern for a media outlet. Imposing, white in white, with as many bricks on its facade as there are characters in a newspaper, cleverly topped with its title on the roof, like a real front page, among other insider allusions.
It was enough for artists to take over, around 2007, transforming its abandoned premises into joyful creative studios. Despite everything, it was threatened with demolition, given the decrepit state of the place, and it was this audacious project for a 172-room hotel on seven floors that ultimately saved the building, and its history along the way. And not just any: a unifying project, open to all in 2014, with plural functions. “We came up with this idea,” summarizes Tijs Bullock, design and creation coordinator, “of a place for tourists, but also locals, with a club in the basement, a teleworking space, and programming cultural. » Not to mention the restaurant with a breathtaking view of the city (in the former journalists’ cafeteria, on the 7th floor!), the spa on the roof, and the café at the entrance.
This place of life is now alive at any time of the day, offbeat, although extremely inclusive. The building actually houses, in addition to the rooms, dozens of artist studios in a wing at the back, in addition to music studios. All without denying its past, on the contrary. “We wanted to pay homage to its history,” continues Tijs Bullock, “to keep it alive, for guests of generations to come. »
This (paper) newspaper kiosk, here at reception, bears witness to this. There, in the shower, these cut-out newspaper articles. Or, more systematically, on each floor, this homage to a specific section of the daily notable: fashion, royalty, weather. For the record, in room 527, we found, during the renovations, drawings by the caricaturist Robert Wout, Opland by his pen name. These have been preserved, and now line the walls of the room, renamed in his name.
That’s not all. If five luxury rooms, designed by local designers and architects, have made the building famous over the years, the Volkshotel prides itself on welcoming single mothers as well as real estate brokers, punks and poets. . In short, all social classes and all wallets. Even dogs are welcome. “We have a manifesto on our website, and that was really important for us, because Amsterdam can be quite an expensive city. » We have also sacrificed several luxury rooms to transform them over the years into small cabins, ideal for solo travelers. Rooms now range from extra small to extra large, or even studio, for extended stays.
Ours, the tiniest there is, and despite an imposing concrete column planted in its center, was nevertheless formidable in functionality. Special mention to this window which adorned an entire wall, with a breathtaking view of the city of a thousand colors, like an invitation to go out and discover it. And back again!
It’s the locals’ means of transport, we know it, and we’d be crazy to do without it. While several addresses in Amsterdam offer rental services, some hotels, including the Volkshotel, do the same, and you have to drive along the canals, over its bridges and on its cobblestones, to really feel the city. Dare to get lost in the center in its famous 9 streets (Straatjes), but also explore outlying neighborhoods, more difficult to reach on foot.
Accessible by ferry, with your bike (or not), directly next to the train station, the former shipyard district is a sort of Dutch Brooklyn: think graffiti museum, giant mural representing Anne Frank, hangars transformed into trendy cafes ( notably the Pllek, with its entrance directly into a converted hangar), or even artists’ studios to visit (the corner known as Ceuvel offers a fascinating little tour, not to be missed).
There is no shortage of museums in Amsterdam. Between Van Gogh, Rembrandt, the Jewish Historical Museum or the Anne Frank House, the options are as rich as they are varied. Big crush on the Moco, a contemporary art museum open since 2016 in a tiny residence, having hosted sisters, then a lawyer’s office, before being open to the public here, with its collection including several big names , including Banksy, Keith Haring, Yayoi Kusama, etc. Notice to those interested: children (and their parents!) will certainly be seduced by the multiple rooms of immersive digital art.
This new address in the Westerpark district apparently offers one of the best vegetarian menus in town, not to mention its rich selection of wines. The menu offers small dishes to share, in Dutch only, of course, but you can’t go wrong. Let yourself be guided by a friendly waiter, and dare the marinated cucumbers, buttered radishes, and these ravioli in sauce with a delicious taste that will keep you coming back for more. No reservations, first come, first fed!