Cheap Holidays to The Netherlands
Netherlands Holidays & Hotels
Hotels in the Netherlands
The Netherlands has dynamic cities with canals to stroll and charming crowded townhouses in distinctive style. Hotels reflect the country’s forward-thinking attitude with bang-on-trend styling, fine dining and top-drawer service. Some are set in old-school townhouses with stepped gables and quirky original features, some are five-star branded stays in the dead centre of town, some are intimate bed and breakfasts – and, you can slumber on a moored boat during your holiday if you wish.
Where to stay
Those looking for a cheap holiday are well-catered-for, too, romance-seekers will find the loveliest enclaves, and families can find more relaxing neighbourhoods at the city’s edges, with good transport links.
This canal-threaded city’s ‘anything goes’ attitude still stands, but the sauciness of its red- (and blue) light districts and cheeky caffs is offset by the treasures in its Museum Quarter and beyond. Rembrandt hangs out in the Rijksmuseum, the Stedelijk showcases the best in modern Flemish design, and Van Gogh has his very own space. And, there’s a poignant memorial to courage at the Anne Frank House. Hire a bike during your holiday in Amsterdam and you can easily cycle out to Keukenhof gardens, which are carpeted in tulips, come spring.
Rotterdam is a can-do port city in southern Holland, which was rebuilt from the ground up after being heavily bombed in World War II. Modernity has brought a thirst for invention and cutting-edge design, and it’s filled with architectural wonders, such as Rem Koolhaas’s De Rotterdam Tower and the revivified docklands. A slew of cool cafés, hip to the nerdiest of coffee culture, and its own network of canals make it a hotspot for a lovely chilled-out break.
A tech-savvy, modern-minded spot, Eindhoven, in southern Holland, is where Philips electronics was born. The brand’s presence is felt throughout, with a museum dedicated to it and PSV’s Philips stadium, home to football matches and other events. Amid some less-reputed architecture are Modernist gems, and the city has enough family activities to tucker out little ones.
What to see
When holidaying in the Netherlands Amsterdam is the hippest of hubs, catering to culture vultures, shoppers and party animals. It’s best seen by bike (kids are put on wheels from a young age, so families can cycle together), and road etiquette is observed, but watch out for cobbles and canals. Whip round lively Dam and Leidse squares and the Museum Quarter, stopping to pay your respects to art’s grand masters.
Pass the Old Church and St Nicholas Church (where exhibitions are held sometimes) and explore the trio of markets surrounding the former. Stop and smell the tulips at the Flower Market and take time out in Vondelpark. Then tour the heartbreaking Anne Frank House and reflect on a boat trip down the canal. It can be avoided if you’re travelling with kids, but the Red Light District is undeniably fascinating. Ease yourself in with a visit to the Sexmuseum before delving into its boutiques and gawping at its shopfronts (yes, they do sit in the windows). For a more wholesome day of staring, Artis Amsterdam Royal Zoo is lovely.
Aesthetes will thrill at Rotterdam’s collection of architectural stand-outs: the Market Hall, the iconic De Rotterdam Tower, the Euromast observation station, Erasmus Bridge, Central Station – the list goes on. You can see the Maritime Museum, take a boat tour and go skating in this up-and-coming hub. Eindhoven is small yet striking, with an eyecatching Modern Art Museum and plenty for little ones, including a prehistory centre, interactive city zoo and Aquabest’s inflatable obstacle course.
What to eat
The Dutch flip for pancakes (pannenkoeken) is a must during your holiday here, eat them sweet and savoury in the cosiest of pancake houses. If you can’t fit a full one, try poffertjes: petite pancake bites. Cuisine tends to be stodgy with meat, potatoes, bread and cheese being staples (Edam and Gouda two of the most munched).
Dining in the ‘Dam covers all bases, with excellent global eateries, vegan and healthy options galore, and some truly unique dining experiences, such as greenhouse-set Restaurant de Kas, and offshore eateries REM Eiland – a former pirate radio station – and Vuurtoreneiland’s pop-up fine-dining, come summer. For a traditional stop, try the Old Bell.
In Rotterdam, dine atop the Euromast for views, sample some excellent slow-food cuisine at Restaurant De Jong, and treat yourself to Michelin-starred meals at Parkheuvel and Amarone. In Eindhoven, Fenix Food Factory offers tastings and ‘how they make it’ demos alongside its eats.
Nighttime goings on in Amsterdam are above-board too. The trendy Oost and De Pijp neighbourhoods each have a string of must-try cocktail bars and beer halls, in the former, we like Brouwerij ‘t IJ; in the latter, Twenty Third Bar and Brouwerij Troost. Tiki bars are very popular here, too. A’Dam Toren was once the heartland of the city’s music industry in the Noord district, and it has a super Skybar. For an alternative to drinking, see what’s on at Concertgebouw or try your luck at the Amsterdam Casino.
Rotterdam has a glamorous and gay-friendly nightlife scene, both undergorund in clubs such as Toffler (held in a disused Metro Tunnel) and on high, on the rooftop terraces of the Suicide Club and Op Het Dak. Meet and mingle on Witte de Withstraat, where most of the action happens. In Eindhoven, bars and cafes are centered around Stratumseind.
The Netherlands has designers, high-street chains and independent boutiques to buy holiday souvenirs in, plus the unavoidable tourist traps selling windmill figurines and clogs. De Negen Straatjes (Seven Streets) and PC Hooftstraat are Amsterdam’s main shopping areas, where you can buy blue-and-white Delftware, wheels of cheese, bold artwork and the coolest home decor. The Red Light district’s boutiques cover every kink you can think of, and then some, and heartstring-plucking posies can be made up in the Flower Market.
In Rotterdam, van Oldenbarneveltstraat has Dutch and Scandi designers and especially high-class things for the home. Lijnbaan and Coolsingel are both runs of affordable brands. And, before splashing the cash in Eindhoven’s Admirant shopping mall, admire the shiny artwork at its door, by futurist Massimiliano Fuksas, called De Blob.
Fast Facts about the Netherlands
- Direct flight time to Amsterdam: 1 hour from London
- Direct flight time to Rotterdam: 1 hour from London
- Direct flight time to Eindhoven: 1 hour from London
- Travel time on the Eurostar from London to Amsterdam: 4 hours from London
- Time Zone: CET (+1 hour)
- Currency: Euro
- Language: Dutch
- Average price of a domestic beer: €2–4
- Average price of a bottle of wine: €4–10
- Number of Brit tourists per year: 1,900,000