Hotel bars haven’t been on the radar for Team Kompas, but that’s changed. It’s had to with so many unmissable venues arriving lately. Maybe the problem was that we associated them with stuffy piano lounges and a library-esque atmosphere. But that perception is all on us and we’re willing to accept our mistakes and move forward. We’re pretty good like that, especially when there might be a good gin and tonic involved. So we finally went to Volkshotel.
The hotel is on Wibautstraat, a very ‘un-Amsterdam’ main road that runs parallel to the east side of the River Amstel. The immediate area has an interesting history as former home to the city’s newspaper industry before it moved to modern buildings a kilometre away. In the meantime, Amsterdam’s hottest club, Trouw, occupied the building opposite Volkshotel. Trouw hasn’t confirmed where it’ll pop up next (it has never had a permanent home) but it’s once-neighbour, bar and restaurant, Baut, has sprung up for a short while in the south of the city.
Just like the street it’s on, the hotel isn’t typical of what you might first expect from an Amsterdam venue, and an appropriate keyword for the Volkshotel bar is ‘scale’. Everything seems super-sized when you’re there; the windows stretch up to the double-height ceiling, the bar seems to go on forever, even the plants are like triffids. Meanwhile, liberal use of glass and steel show off and enhance the building’s mid-century industrial origins well.
So it isn’t your typically quaint cafe/bar but it is very representative of the new breed of contemporary venues which are opening around the city at an incredible rate.
Our trip to Volkshotel showed us it’s attracting younger guests. And with reasonably priced rooms that’s no surprise – it’s the total opposite of the slum-like hostels that 20-something’s are usually subjected to in Amsterdam, and presents itself as amazing value in comparison. Aside from the patrons who sleep there, there’s a diverse crowd of customers who go for the fun and airy cafe/bar on the ground floor from breakfast time right through until the small hours. It’s a friendly laid-back venue where – as the hotel’s name suggests – everyone will fit in.
The Volkshotel has put a lot of energy into keeping a fluid trade in its bar. It deliberately attracts a creative crowd who want space to work and meet with its open desks and fun conference rooms. They offer an office without the commitment or expensive rental. Yes, there might be a piano on the ground floor, but this resource helps turn the ground floor from what could be a disused hotel lounge by day, into a place with a buzz that’s appropriate for whatever time of day you’re there.