The Best Houseboats and Riverside Hotels to Book in Amsterdam

Kapitein Anna: once a paddle steamer, now your floating home-from-home
Kapitein Anna: once a paddle steamer, now your floating home-from-home | Courtesy of Kapitien Anna /
Photo of Joe Bindloss
9 November 2021

Amsterdam is a city of canals – a staggering 100km (62mi) of them, meandering evocatively through the city centre and connecting to Markermeer lake and the North Sea. People walk or pedal beside them, sip coffees and beers on bridges over them and travel along them, so it’s a small step to staying on them. There are houseboats to rent in Amsterdam, as well as atmospheric canal-side hotels that offer the best of both worlds – all bookable with Culture Trip.

Houseboat Schellingwouderdijk for a modern take on an Amsterdam houseboat

Open glass patio doors connect the inside space to a covered deck on the Houseboat Schellingwouderdijk
Courtesy of Houseboat Schellingwouderdijk / Expedia

East of the historic heart of town, in the calm, green Schellingwoude neighbourhood, this neat, square houseboat is moored close to parks and residential streets near the mouth of the IJ. There are plenty of nostalgic old houseboats in Amsterdam, but Houseboat Schellingwouderdijk is part of the new breed, full of square corners and industrial materials, with tall patio doors that open onto a covered deck. It’s a thoroughly modern and positive waterside space.

InterContinental Amstel Amsterdam, an IHG Hotel, for stellar service

A luxurious lounge at the InterContinental Amstel Amsterdam with floor-to-ceiling windows providing river views
Courtesy of InterContinental Amstel Amsterdam / Expedia

If you’re going to stay by the water, rather than on the water, there’s really only one choice. The InterContinental Amstel has luxuries and services that the houseboats in Amsterdam can only dream of: a Belle Époque restaurant and bar, doormen in top hats, sweeping stairways, bedrooms full of heirloom furniture and Delft porcelain. Service is elegant, rooms are refined, and the Amstel-side location puts you within leisurely strolling distance of the Hermitage Amsterdam and the Rembrandt House Museum.

Houseboat Tante Piet, for quirky interiors

Stylish bedroom nook on the Houseboat Tante Piet
Courtesy of Houseboat Tante Piet /

You’ll find all sorts of houseboats to rent in Amsterdam, but Houseboat Tante Piet is a dainty charmer right on the edge of the action. It’s moored on the Dijksgracht canal, impressively close to the canal-wrapped heart of old Amsterdam. This handsome old vessel is imaginatively decorated inside, like the residence of an arts lecturer holding onto the creative spark of their student days. Airy living spaces have room to breathe, helped by a peppering of potted plants and skylights that bring in the sunshine.

Hotelboat Allure, for a B&B on the water

The classic houseboat turned Hotelboat Allure docked in a canal
Courtesy of Hotelboat Allure / Expedia

One of two classic houseboats in Amsterdam operated by the same hospitable owners, the MPS Allure is run as a floating B&B with a generous serving of Dutch hospitality. After an industrious past, this vintage boat has been reinvented as a friendly living space, with tidy, compact bedrooms, roomy shared spaces, and tables and chairs out on deck, looking over Amsterdam’s lilting canals. In summer, the houseboat sets off on fun-filled bike cruises around Amsterdam.

Houseboat Prinsheerlijk, for proximity to museums

Houseboat Prinsheerlijk's arty and creative living space
Courtesy of Houseboat Prinsheerlijk /

This fun and funky houseboat is moored on Prinsengracht, an easy amble from the historic centre and the Van Gogh Museum, Rijksmuseum and Leidseplein. If you’re looking for a deck full of easy chairs looking over a humped brick bridge and rows of graceful canal-side houses, look no further. The living space below deck is arty and creative, with shelves dotted with curios, a bright, white bedroom and a cosy lounge illuminated by a crescent of windows.

Hotel BOAT & CO, for modern canal-side living

The stylish interior of the waterfront penthouse at Hotel BOAT and CO
Courtesy of Hotel BOAT and CO / Expedia

Hotel Boat & Co is the classic Amsterdam canal-side hotel, given a 21st-century upgrade. Facing a broad sweep of the IJ at Houthavens, it’s far enough from the stag nights and hen parties to feel calm and relaxing, while still being an easy walk or cycle from downtown. Inside, everything is light-filled and airy, with wood-panelled apartments full of industrial furnishings that feel much more homey than the modern frontage might suggest. It’s one for digital nomads and families looking for a touch of design flair.

Canal House, for a fusion of old-school and modern

Contemporary designed Great Room at Canal House
Courtesy of Canal House, Amsterdam

The Canal House is a little taste of what it would feel like to live in the kind of house occupied by the likes of Rembrandt and Van Gogh. Topped by Baroque gables, this slender, Dutch townhouse has a fine city-centre position, corridors full of heirloom paintings, a greenery-filled garden and achingly cool bedrooms full of shapely designer furniture, purple velvet and fashion shoot prints. Every space is a design statement, and there’s a bar for evening cocktails.

1637 Historic Canal View Suites, for designer suites in a traditional setting

One of two gorgeously decorated suites at 1637 Historic Canal View Suites
Courtesy of 1637 Historic Canal View Suites / Expedia

The quiet location on Herengracht – central, but not so central that you have to compete with the stag parties – is just one perk at this historic hotel, which has just two suites, both gorgeously decorated with designer details. The name is a nod to the year this handsome old townhouse was built, but the design ethos is design mag-modern, and the huge living spaces are bathed in light. Bathrooms are sleek grey spaces, in keeping with the modern-art-gallery mood.

These recommendations were updated on November 9, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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