Tried & Tested

Hotel check: Citizen M Amsterdam City

1 Apr 2010 by Michelle Harbi
BACKGROUND Dutch brand Citizen M opened its second hotel in April last year, following one at Amsterdam Schiphol airport in June 2008. With a motto of “affordable luxury for the people”, it aims to offer high-spec facilities at budget prices. It plans to open 20 more hotels in Europe in the next five years, as well as properties in New York – first up is Glasgow, in August, followed by London next year. WHAT’S IT LIKE? While it is situated in the city’s main business district, this is not your average business hotel. The funky open-plan ground floor features retro furniture by Dutch designer Vitro alongside quirky art pieces such as an Andy Warhol print of Queen Beatrix. A self check-in area with six kiosks is to your left as you enter – there are staff, or “ambassadors”, on hand to help – while ahead is the 24-hour Canteen M. To the right, in lieu of a traditional lobby, are relaxed “living areas” with colourful seating, TVs, tables to work or eat at, and bookshelves holding fashion and architecture tomes. WHERE IS IT? A few minutes’ walk from Amsterdam Zuid station – the train from Schiphol takes eight minutes. The World Trade Centre and RAI Congress Centre are a short walk away. Tram five stops outside and reaches the centre in about 15 minutes. ROOM FACILITIES The 215 identical rooms are made off-site and stacked on top of the ground level to form the hotel (there are five floors of rooms). At 14 sqm they are compact, but the space is used well. They are long with pale walls and laminate wood-style flooring, and there is no separate bathroom – the toilet and shower are housed in cylindrical “pods”. The WC is opaque but the shower is see-through – you can pull a curtain across to divide it from the bed area, but if you are travelling with a partner you won’t have much privacy. To activate the rainshower the doors have to be closed, so there is nowhere to hide when the water starts. The sink is outside the toilet, next to a mirror that spins around – one side is full length while the other has theatre lights for shaving, UK and EU plug sockets, and a hairdryer. The far end of the room is taken up by a wall-to-wall super king-size bed, which sits under the window (request a room ending in an odd number on the third to fifth floors for good views of the World Trade Centre). The bed is firm and incredibly comfortable, the only drawback being that you have to shuffle down it to get out. The technology, by Philips, is impressive. A flatscreen TV above the bed features free movies and music. You control it via a “mood pad” that also adjusts the lights, blinds and temperature. You can set the “mood” by theme (ie, business or romance) – press the pad and spotlights cast out shades of green, blue and purple. It’s fun but rather a gimmick – there are switches by the bed for the lights and blinds if this is a bit much for you. Hotel information is also accessed via the mood pad. This reflects Citizen M’s green focus – paper use is kept to a minimum, your invoice can be sent to your email, and the own-brand toiletries are in full-size bottles rather than take-away ones. The main downside is the amount of work space. There are two small circular tables at the foot of the bed – one has a seat and will just about fit a laptop, but it would be hard to work for long periods. Hanging space for clothes is also limited – a small rail by the door holds only three hangers. Wifi is free and there is a safe. RESTAURANTS AND BARS Canteen M is a self-service area offering salads (€7), sushi (€8) and sandwiches (€5), along with dishes such as vegetable lasagne (€10) that can be heated up. The wide range of drinks includes fresh coffee, bottled beer and champagne. The area is staffed around the clock and from 7pm, spirits, draught beer and cocktails are available – there is a good martini selection. A breakfast consisting of a croissant, jam, fruit, yoghurt, juice and tea or coffee is €10. BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES The meeting area is at the far right of the ground level – it holds 100 people but as it is not closed off from the rest of the floor, it’s probably best used as a space for informal events. To the left of check-in is a computer area with four Macs, a printer and four laptop stations. LEISURE FACILITIES None, but guests can use Club Sportive, an eight-minute walk away, for €10. VERDICT It won’t be for everyone, especially if you like a full-service restaurant, but this funky hotel is great value and well located for the business area. Michelle Mannion

FACT FILE

  • HOW MANY ROOMS? 215
  • ROOM HIGHLIGHTS The fantastic bed, inventive technology and free wifi
  • PRICE Online rates for a midweek stay in May started from €79.
  • CONTACT citizenm.com
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