Guess what? My boyfriend and I have recently added a new citizenship to our collection of visas, passport stamps, and confused identities: last month, we became members of the citizenM universe!
But let me rewind. It’s been ironic to me that I fell for a Dutchman, since The Netherlands have been a big gap in my travels and European culture. Until last month, I had never been, and I knew surprisingly, shamefully little about the country. Yup: despite growing up near Paris, living in the UK for 9 years, and spending the last few summers roaming the rest of Europe, I had somehow managed to fail to go to Amsterdam even once!
So, I was quite excited to visit Bauke’s family in April. And although they’re only based twenty minutes away from the capital and we could easily have commuted there every day, I knew that I wanted to spend at least one night in Amsterdam to get the full experience of discovering a big city. Cue: citizenM Amsterdam.
When you’re visiting the capital of cool and edge, you kind of want to stay in a suitably cool place, right?! Having won awards for its funky, colourful design, boutique hotel citizenM had to be the one. And when we were invited to check out its ‘special way of hosting’, we were really intrigued to find out what that meant…
It’s…well, it’s really damn cool!
The hotel’s website had warned us: at citizenM, we wouldn’t find things we don’t need, like ‘trouser presses, bellboys, pillow chocolates, terrible towel swans’, and other cliché tokens of old-world luxury! Instead, the chain is all about providing affordable, practical luxury for modern travellers and the new breed of mobile citizens of the world (that’s us).
That emphasis on the modern and practical is obvious from the get-go: rather than filling out a long form, handing in our documents to be photocopied, leaving a credit card deposit and whatnot, we were directed to the one-minute self-check-in machines. That’s right: you just enter your booking number, select any extras you wish (e.g. late check out), scan a magnetic card, and boom! you’ve got your key. Payment? No need to worry about carrying cash – you will be billed directly by email at the end of your stay.
If we were already impressed with this swift process, it got even more high-tech and interactive when we got to our room. When I say room…it was more like a concentrate-of-cool, Japanese-capsule-meets-plush-comfort mini-home.
The strength of citizenM bedrooms is not their size, but their smart and funky design that packs in a lot of features in a limited space. Giant flat screen? Tick. Egg-shaped pod bathroom and toilets? Tick. Power rain shower? Tick. Oh, and did I mention that they also manage to fit massive, XL-sized bed in there?!
Not only that, but we were really excited to find that our room came with an iPad filled with a large selection of free movies to watch, and a range of controls that made us feel a bit like we were in a space ship. At a few clicks, we could adjust the room’s temperature and lighting, and even create special lighting effects for our pod-bathroom and pod-toilet. (In case you want to get into the right atmosphere straightaway, you can also choose one of the pre-programmed mood settings: party, work, relax, movie night, etc.) Oh. the. fun!
Despite all of this technology, the sweet branding kept our room super homey and personal. We loved the toiletries that all had a little story to tell (separate shower gels for the day and the night!), and we absolutely could not resist getting involved with these cushions:
After spending some time playing with our new iPad and pillow toys, we headed back downstairs to check out the common rooms…and to confirm that the cool factor totally extends to them! Besides a boat-style bar/restaurant area where we enjoyed a big buffet breakfast (included in the room price) in the morning, the ground floor has three open-space common areas. With their designer furniture, books, and inspiring deco, they’re part cosy living-room, part library, and part treasure trove of eclectic, exotic objects – great both for chilling and for a little work on the go.
In fact, as digital nomads, Bauke and I often need our accommodation to have an area where we can whip out our laptops and do a lil’ hustling. That can be a struggle in some places, but citizenM triple-delivered in that respect!
It’s a great base for visiting the city
What else is ace? The convenience of the design carries into the location. While citizenM is not at the very heart of the city, it in in the immediate, quieter outskirts of the historical centre, only a short bike or tram ride away.
If you’re feeling active, hop on one of the bikes provided by the hotel and get your cycle on (kind of a must-do in this bicycle-obsessed city!). Just make sure to rise early, as they get snatched up fast. If you had a bit of a lie-in and missed them (aherm, like us), no worries! there is a bike rental shop around the corner, and pretty much all over Amsterdam.
If you’re not feeling the pedalling or it’s too cold (that can happen there!), tram 5 stops a hundred meters from the hotel and takes you into the centre in about 15 minutes along a nice sightseeing route that will give you a preview of some of the city’s main attractions. You’ll fly past the Museumplein (home to the Concertgebouw, Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum, Stedelijk Museum, etc.), Vondelpark, the lively Leidseplein square, the big shopping street of Leidsestraat, the Flowermarket at the Singel, and plenty other landmarks.
Bonus tip: while in Amsterdam, you should totally have lunch or a drink at Blue Amsterdam, an affordable top-floor cafe with a 360° view. The food is delish, and they even provide binoculars for you to take in the canals and colorful stone houses!
Disclaimer: Bauke and I were hosted by citizenM Amsterdam for one night. However, I only accept partnerships with hotels I am genuinely excited about, and all opinions are solely my own!
Have you stayed in a citizenM? What is the coolest hotel you’ve stayed at? What are your favourite places in Amsterdam? I love hearing from you, so let me know in the comments below!
Follow my daily adventures on Instagram @CamWonderlands!