A now traditional weekend away with friends in January to beat the post-Christmas blues took me back to Zaandam, a small town just outside Amsterdam.
As usual the trip was made by direct Eurostar, and return via Thalys to Brussels and Eurostar from there. Rumours suggest that the new check-in and security building at Amsterdam Centraal should open in April or May, meaning I’ll soon be able to get a direct train home.
The weekend followed a similar pattern to previous jaunts with friends so I won’t dwell on this (what happens in Amsterdam stays in Amsterdam…), although we did enjoy our visits to Bier Fabriek brewery and restaurant, and the Brouwerij ‘t IJ, the brewery in a windmill in south Amsterdam.
Instead I’ll reiterate what a good option Zaandam is for a weekend in Amsterdam. I had an extra night before my friends arrived and for that night stayed in the unique Inntel hotel, modelled on traditional Dutch houses, quirkily piled on top of each other. It’s right next to the station, where trains get you to the centre of Amsterdam in 12 minutes several times an hour until the early hours.
Inside it’s a modern 4 star hotel with a lovely pool, which I had all to myself the following morning. And the real selling point is the price – around £70 to £80 a night – significantly cheaper than an equivalent hotel in the city centre.
The budget options are great too – for my two nights with my friends we stayed in twin rooms in the easy hotel just round the corner, which worked out at just over £50 each for two nights.
The town itself is very pleasant, waterfalls and canals interspersed with modern shopping centres and a charming little square with several great bars and restaurants. I had a good meal at one of these at lunchtime to line my stomach before the unofficial Heineken experience when my friends.
I’m not in the employ of Zaandam tourist board despite how this may read, but I’d heartily recommend it as a great value alternative to Amsterdam city centre for a weekend.