Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Travel Tip Tuesday: Surprises and Savings in Amsterdam

We had an overnight stay in Amsterdam prompted by airline connections on our return from Italy. And, as once before, within hours of arriving were scolding ourselves for not allowing more time than the-less-than-24-hour ‘dash and glance’ we'd allowed ourselves.

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But one reason we’ve shied away from extended stays in this picturesque place is that its hotels are expensive. For week’s prior to our arrival The Scout searched hotel booking sites and found triple-digit prices.

HOTEL TIP: We finally used Hotwire, the site that allows you to book a hotel for a significantly discounted price; you’ll select it by its general location, price and star-rating but you won’t know the exact hotel until your credit card has been charged.

Our travel friends, Mary and Greg, have sung its praises for some time and we’d tried it once before – at their suggestion -- and were pleased with the results. This time was no exception.

We selected a four-star hotel within the geographical area of the train station and the city’s famous, Dam Square. . .

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What we got was a treasure! We stayed in the  NH Doelen Hotel, the city’s oldest hotel sitting on the banks of the Amstel River in the heart of its historic district. Its who’s-who guests have included Queen Victoria, the Beatles and Rembrandt, the latter who  painted his famous, “Night Watch” here.

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We were within easy walking distance of Rembrandt Square, the Jewish Historical Museum and the colorful flower market. Our room, while not overlooking the river, was spacious and the bed comfortable. Free WI-FI was provided, although despite my best attempts we couldn’t connect to it from our room .

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GETTING AROUND:  We’d been ‘taken’ by the taxi that brought us to the hotel; the driver of the small van charged the two of us (we learned too-late) a four-person 19.5 euro rate for the short drive.  So, the next morning the hotel folks called a driver they use:

Enter Maarten de Grunt, in his Mercedes. He whisked us to the station (pointing out sites along the way – he spoke perfect English) and dropped us at the entry nearest the tracks – a real plus in this rain-drenched city.  The cost?  9.8 euro, half the prior day’s toll.

So good was Maarten, that we plan to contact him prior to our next stop in Amsterdam so that we can use his services during our stay.  For that matter I wanted to tell all of you about him!   Once you let him know your arrival time by sending an email or making an on-line reservation,  he’ll monitor your flight and be waiting  (whether it be the train station or the airport). Maarten is also available for full blown tours.

If  You Go:

Ground Transportation: Maarten de Grunt, owner ‘De grunt personenvervoer’, email: m.grunt@chello.nl, phone: 0031 6 43259424, website: www.degruntpersonenvervoer.nl

Hotel NH Doelen, www.nh-hotels.nl, location Nieuwe Doelenstraat, 26.

Hotwire, www.hotwire.com (Our room cost about $150US ; booked directly with the hotel it would have cost about $225).

Thanks for stopping by today, hope to see you back here again on Travel Photo Thursday; the day armchair travel takes flight in the blogosphere.

5 comments:

  1. Thanks for the great hotel search tip. We shall certainly try that out next time we have short notice of a trip!

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    1. We usually use it as a last resort, but it has shown itself to certainly 1) not disappoint and 2)save us money!

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  2. I've never thought to use Hotwire but that's a great tip especially for European cities. And nice of you to give the good guy some promotion. Maarten sounds like a real find.

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    1. We were the same way because we like to view, study, think about and then pick and choose, just 'the place' but the two times we've tried it, we haven't been disappointed. It's a good resource for the back pocket.

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  3. Thanks for the tip about Maarten. Alan and I will be in Amsterdam next week and have contacted him about transportation from the airport. We booked our hotel from Priceline (a first time experience for us). We weren't necessarily looking for the cheapest rate but rather a reasonable rate for a 5 star hotel. Priceline put us at the Amsterdam Marriott (I was hoping for the Pulitzer). We'll see how it goes.

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