Oh, Amsterdam, your charming buildings and creative urban planning don’t fool us, we know you’re like the bad boy when it comes to European cities to visit. Let’s face it; a conservative who can’t handle things like sex, drugs, and more sex probably shouldn’t be coming to Amsterdam. And it’s true that whether you’re walking down a tiny street by a canal, or in the heart of the Red Light District, the adjective to describe your senses is definitely …ahem, stimulated.
So we couldn’t finish our Eurotrip without taking a pit stop in the land of “almost everything is legal,” because after all, we are undercover hippies who aren’t exactly fans of following strict rules.
After our successful stays at St. Christopher’s Inns in Barcelona, and Berlin, we booked our two-nights in their Amsterdam location. Since each hostel before had embodied the city they were in through its décor, staff, and amenities, we were looking forward to seeing how this Inn would differ. And different doesn’t do this hostel justice.
Right after our overnight train ride, we scanned the train station to find the nearest exit and spotted at least 12 people walking their bikes while wearing their nightlife outfits – we’re talking heels and bikes, #getitgirls!
We found our way out weaving through more bikes and pretty people and no more than seven minutes later by foot we reached St. Christopher’s Inn at The Winston. Of course, we also had three bags each so you might even be able to do the walk in five minutes.
When looking at the hostel we got a little confused because there’s a nightclub directly next to the reception entrance that’s called “Winston Kingdom, Nightclub,” but yes, this is actually our hostel. Instead of making you go to the party, they bring the party to you directly downstairs and one door over. Right after we entered the building (not the nightclub entrance silly, that’s for later), we felt the free spirit all right. The Belushi’s bar was playing some pre-game music on the speakers that covered the walls, to our left there was a glass encased smoking room (one of the few smoke-friendly hostels in Amsterdam) with pool table and ash trays for the puff-puff passers, and to our right we met a down to earth receptionist ready to answer all of the taboo questions even we were slightly afraid to ask.
What we learned within minutes is that Amsterdam is a place of tolerance and acceptance in all types of ways; first example: as the receptionist was walking us through the amenities of the building she asked if we were smokers, we innocently answered no. She looked at us with a silly face and blared out. “You’re in Amsterdam, we smoke weeeeeed here!” And BAM, that’s when the ice was broken and we felt like we had really arrived.
Then she got serious to explain that security is tight and that we’d need to drop off our keys off as we left the building and show our security badges when we re-entering so they could confirm it was actually us going back into our room. The staff nailed the blend of silly and serious. The fact that they’ve thought that security procedure through comforted me because although Amsterdam is a must-see city, the sketch-o-meter can sometimes increase depending on what alley you walk down.
After checking in, we followed her direction into a hallway that was covered in bold paintings that mirrors Amsterdam’s liberal nature. My personal favorite; the “I am THE greatest” reminder that we’d see every morning before leaving to face the chaos of Amsterdam’s streets.
After settling into our room we decided that Saturday night meant roaming the streets was necessary. We used the hostel map to of course, see what everyone comes here to see at night; the Red Light District. We were so intrigued that we even went to the Secrets of the Red Light District: Museum of Prostitution as per the hostel’s recommendation! In a place like Amsterdam, your first choice museum is most likely the Anne Frank museum, and yes, go experience that, but on a lighter note, swing on other to this one to learn what life is really like as a Red Light District prostitute.
A few hours later and we experienced a much more PG Sunday Morning when church chimes rang at 9AM. We yawned back at the bells of the church directly next to the hostel and rolled out of bed to face the day. There was overcast in the sky, the temperature was slightly chilly but not unbearable making it a perfect Dutch morning. You know, that kind of weather that is perfect fall weather? Yeah, that’s Amsterdam. Downstairs, the hostel guests all indulged in the complimentary breakfast that was way more than bread and butter. We were first in line.
The Winston makes sure your hangover food is on point; boiled eggs, fresh salami and ham, four different types of bread, various cereals, Nutella, jams, and even peanut butter. If you’ve ever been to Europe, you know how difficult it is to find peanut butter! Of course, we wouldn’t love a breakfast without coffee so the coffee machine that could make decadent cappuccinos with the press of a button took it to the next level (you already know I got a refill).
And if you want to have a side of cigarettes with your cereal, you also have he option of eating in the Garden.
After breakfast, we lingered around and chatted up the staff for a bit to get some more of their recommendations. All votes were on bike riding and people watching, so we spent our last day zipping through traffic on a snazzy tandem MacBikes and observing the diversity of the crowd; like, how many languages can we possibly hear in one day? Although our trip to Amsterdam was short, it was a teaser for wanting to explore more.