by Amy Guttman
Amsterdam may play second fiddle to European cities like London and Paris, but its compact size and accessibility make it a great choice for families. Locals are friendly and speak English, making it even easier to navigate. The bicycle culture and canals, which carve the city into picturesque postcards, make it a unique and kid-friendly place.
The Wyndham Apollo is located slightly out of the way, boasting big rooms with plenty of space to unpack. It also sits at the convergence of five canals, giving those with canal-side rooms amazing views. It’s somewhat suburban setting also means when you’re done sightseeing, you’ll find a quiet, calming retreat where a cozy lounge complete with fireplace and big leather couches awaits.
But, if you’re traveling with teenagers, the Wyndham may be just too quiet and chilled out. The hotel is a few tram stops away from the action of Amsterdam and won’t provide any of the hustle and bustle you’d expect from staying in a city.
Our Editor Loves
- Located on convergence of 5 canals
- Spacious rooms
- Quiet, relaxed atmosphere
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Wyndham recently took over the Apollo Hotel in January 2010. Renovations are in the works, with some of the rooms already upgraded to show off modern, clean lines. Those rooms awaiting refurbishment are still in good condition and are decorated in a traditional, old-world style.
The 223 rooms and suites are spread out over two buildings. Canal-side rooms offer the best views, as the others overlook the parking lot.
Rooms are available with either two twins or one queen-sized bed. Cribs are available and free but there is a three person maximum occupancy, even in the larger suites, which forces a family of four to get two rooms. The hotel has five adjoining rooms, but these seem to book up months in advance.
The rooms are spacious and are equipped with small fridges.
I stayed for 3 nights at the hotel. On the good side, hotel is fairly close to the RAI conference center, it's well designed and breakfast is plentyful.
On the down side, my room (127) was rather small, I was lacking a chair which made it impossible to work, the view to the cooling units of the hotel was not exciting, and I actually woke up to find two technicians outside my room, fixing it...
All in all, I still think it's a nice hotel, but I would recommend paying attention to details when you check in.
I spend a few nights as I attended a show at the RAI conference center. It’s about 10min walking distance which is nice.
The public area of the hotel is nicely designed but the room’s design is dull.
The room is clean and the canal view nice but I found the value for money questionable. The shower has no full doors. It makes the showering experience tidies since without anyway to close, you have to be extra careful the bathroom can be wet when you use the shower.
The front desk and concierge are really helpful and nice.
The food was good and they have a nice restaurant- the harbor.
While the hotel is a few minutes out of town, it offers a main Amsterdam attraction with stunning views of the canals. The Wyndham has its own small marina and rents electric boats to do your own canal tour. For families that want a more unique experience, there is also a private canal barge with a captain available.
Biking through Amsterdam
When in Amsterdam, get around town on a bike! There are various bicycle tours of both town and country -- picture windmills and cheese farms, but if your family is a group comfortable navigating the city on their own you can easily rent them yourself, or have them delivered to the hotel. The concierge can arrange delivery at an additional cost. But as it's a short hop to the city centre, families may find it easier to do a half-day rental from one of the many companies throughout the city.
The Wyndham is set just a few short tram stops from the Museum quarter, which houses the Van Gogh Museum, the Rijksmuseum (classics), and Stedelijkmuseum (modern art). The Rijksmuseum houses the Dutch masters. If your kids have a low art threshold, this museum has a neat laminated card of the top 10 masterpieces not to be missed, which limits your visit to about 20 minutes. For your own little masters, some of the museums offer children's programs and all encourage kids to sit and sketch their own versions of the works.
Breakfast is served in the dining room just off the lobby. It's a typical buffet with cereals, breads, fruit, cheeses and cold meats. Hot dishes included traditional, thin Dutch pancakes, as well as sausages and scrambled eggs. Some rates include breakfast, others do not. Kids 4 to 12 are half-price, and tots 4 and under are free.
The Marina Lounge
Just off the lobby, the Marina Lounge offers cozy couches to either curl up by a glass-screened fireplace, or enjoy the sunshine on the patio with views of the canals and marina. Drinks, snacks, sandwiches and burgers, as well as high tea are available from the early morning, past midnight.
Boasting a local reputation for it's fine seafood dining, this restaurant has a terrific menu, but unless your kids have grown-up taste buds, it's probably too gourmet for the whole family. La Sirene serves lunch (mostly to the business crowd) and dinner, Monday through Saturday.
If you are looking for an easy dining option close to home, I'd recommend heading west on nearby Beethovenstraat. Just about two blocks down, lies a lovely local neighborhood dotted with small, local restaurants and boutiques.
Planning & Tips
Amsterdam's Schiphol International Airport is a hub, and has great connections to other cities within Europe (London is a 50-minute flight). The Wyndham Apollo is 30 minutes by taxi, or 20 minutes by train (to South Station), and then tram.
Centraal Station, Amsterdam's main train station, is a 20 minute cab ride. Arriving by train is a great option if you're adding Amsterdam to a multi-city European trip. The Thalys railway line, which services Amsterdam, offers family compartments, and the option to sit around a table.
Unlike other cities, taxis in Amsterdam are actually cheaper if booked through the hotel so it's better to ask the concierge to order one in advance. If you aren't traveling with tiny tots, or lots of luggage, the trams and trains are very easy to navigate and much cheaper.
If you are using public transportation, it's worthwhile to buy the IAmsterdam cards, available throughout the city and at train stations. It offers a discounted pass valid for public transportation as well as free and discounted entry to many museums and attractions for 24, 48 or 72 hours. I'd recommend these mostly for grown-ups and teens as children under 12 generally get in free, or at discounted rates to many sights.
I didn't mind the slightly out of the way location, but what concerned me the most was the lack of enough adjoining rooms. We booked well in advance and were still not able to secure them. In addition, we couldn't even get three rooms right next to one another. For a family of more than four, this could pose a problem.
Having a room large enough to unpack and store snacks was a big benefit. The comfortable "chill" lounge and outdoor patio also provide nice options for parents to relax on-site after the kids go to bed without having to worry about being too far.
The hotel is smoke-free and offers Wi-Fi at a hefty per-day cost
There is a fitness center on site, though it's located in a basement-type room and is a bit out-dated.