CitizenM, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

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Earlier this week I promised to tell you about our favorite away-from-home stay over the past year. Of course, as it turns out, the Frenchman and I cannot agree on our favorite stay, so we’re going to have to do this in two parts. We’ll go with the Frenchman’s choice first – the quirky CitizenM in Amsterdam.

Amsterdam is a city of expensive hotels … and dirty people, which always makes me a bit cautious when booking Amsterdam accommodations as most every hotel on TripAdvisor has more than a few reviews that note bedbug problems. After our flea nightmare in Atlanta, the idea of teeny tiny bugs trying to suck my blood makes my skin crawl and keeps me awake at night, even after a thorough inspection of the linens. In addition to the bedbugs, Amsterdam attracts a rather dirty crowd for reasons that need not be explained. Thus, even the hostels with shared co-ed dormitories are highly suspect and highly priced given the city’s status as a backpacker mecca. In Amsterdam, a night in a co-ed dorm of questionable cleanliness is oftentimes more expensive than a stay at a hotel.

I should stop here and state that none of this complaining should be taken to mean that CitizenM has a bedbug problem as it does not. Or, at least the insects had yet to make it there when we visited in late April. Late April in Amsterdam is a glorious time as, at long last, the chill starts to disappear and the skies clear, bringing the Dutch into even happier moods than they already were. It is also the time of King’s Day when the entire country of the Netherlands dons head-to-toe orange and takes to the streets for a city-wide yard sale and merry making. This also means that the prices for the city’s few hotel rooms skyrocket, with mere 2-star hotels booking completely full at prices exceeding 200 euros per night.

Last year, while planning our trip to Amsterdam for the King’s Day merriment at somewhat the last minute for such an event (though months ahead it seemed for us,) I stumbled on several articles about where to stay for the weekend. Consistently they suggested CitizenM, which had extremely reasonable prices compared to other locations.

To be honest, I am unsure if the Frenchman adored CitizenM for its features or for it being the home base for his first adventure to the Amsterdam wonderland. The hotel corridors bring to mind how I would image the hallways of a cruise ship to be; though I have never been on such a vessel, I picture oceanliners to have narrow corridors with unadorned doors positioned close together so as to fit in as many passengers as possible. CitizenM is like a cruise ship in space, the Starship Enterprise of the 21st century. Opening a door leads to one of all-identical rooms – long and narrow, the exact width of a king-sized bed and ending in the same, built into the end of the wall, like an oversized window seat. Above it is the only window in the room, its mechanical blinds going from fully opened to starless-night dark with the flick of a button on the remote. The remote controls everything in the room, of course, from the tv to the blinds to the lighting – happy, romantic, energizing – the colors and intensity reflecting the moods of the occupants. For the shower and toilet area there are pods with ever-changing led lights; standing inside one of the pods you may find yourself wondering when you will be transported to another dimension. Also, it should be mentioned that the rooms are actually shipping containers, 215 of which were welded together to make the hotel.

The hotel caters to global, mobile world citizens who wish to use its common spaces for collaborative meetings and its rooms for merely rest or, perhaps, inspiration for a future marketing campaign. The overall effect, however, is of being in a time capsule of the future, particularly when the lights are set to random, causing the room to light up as if it had indulged in some of the city’s less-well-known substances and left you in its belly.

Put simply, CitizenM is a completely nutsy hotel. For the Frenchman, the built-in bed was the deciding factor in its taking of top hotel of 2014. And the bed is, indeed, gloriously comfortable; however, given the hotel’s location somewhat outside of the downtown area I cannot quite give it top marks as the streets are winding enough in Amsterdam without needing to take a tram back home. Also, any place that does not offer free breakfast is not going to win on my scoresheet. Would we stay here agin for King’s Day? Absolutely. In fact, it is already time to make this year’s reservations!

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