Amsterdam houseboats – a surprisingly child-friendly option

It may sound surprising, but a houseboat could be one of the best, and most family-friendly places to stay in Amsterdam and here’s why:

Location Location Location

Amsterdam’s canals really are the arteries of the city, which means houseboats tend to be at the very best spots, near the action but often offering a little more peace – be that a desirable canal ring address or a chic local hotspot on a less trafficked outer waterway.

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Space

What would you prefer – a pocket sized hotel room (which if its in an older or more traditional property is likely to be up a vertiginous flight of stairs) OR a spacious floating apartment complete with full sized bath, bedrooms, kitchen and living room.

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View

The views from a houseboat are indescribable.  Instead of sitting in the third row of a crowded canal-side terrace or jostling with our tourists to snap a quick selfie on an iconic bridge, you get to open up the vast windows, perhaps even relax in a floating garden and watch the world go by at your leisure.  Concerned this won’t work for kids?  Think again – see below for our experience of a completely family-friendly floating paradise.

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Adventure

The romance of a houseboat can stimulate even the most jaded teenager, and for younger kids its up there with wild camping and treehouses.  Watching canal life close up is thrilling, whether its waving to passing boats, watching ducks or even spotting trams trundling across overhead bridges. Little pirates couldn’t ask for more.

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We were lucky enough to spend the night on a houseboat owned by the lovely Juul.  A committed houseboater he converted it to a completely safe and child-friendly residence after the birth of his first child, and has now moved into an even larger floating property as his family has grown.

This is DEFINITELY more house than boat.  A hugely spacious 2 bedroom home that is both incredibly comfortable and enormously well fitted out.

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Our boys were beside themselves at the prospect of a night on board and Juul has done everything to ensure it’s an entirely safe experience.  With safety rails down the stairs to the entrance and simple but incredibly clever grilles to pull across the large windows, I had absolutely no concerns about letting our boys explore with complete freedom.

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With an enormous double bed in the master bedroom, and twin beds in the second room (with the option of a cot if required) the property is hugely spacious and has more mod cons than most of the city’s Airbnb’s.  We didn’t cook on board but there’s a lovely range cooker; a dishwasher; washing machine,; TV with satellite channels; wifi; a full size bath in the beautiful modern and stylish bathroom (including the boys’ favourite – a “disco shower”) and, should you need it, there’s underfloor heating. There’s also heaps of cupboard space for luggage and clothes, more towels than you’d ever need and of course lots of seating alongside the windows to take in the glorious view.

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Location-wise the houseboat is based in the hip Old West of the city.  There’s a lovely Bagels and Beans right opposite, kids’ favourite Ijscupje for ice cream on the corner and the tram stops on the adjacent bridge – a dream for mini transport lovers.  100m away you’ll find food stores and supermarkets, a branch of all time kids (and TripAdvisor) favourite Mook Pancakes and family friendly Moeders (Mothers) Restaurant. A short walk or tram ride away is the astonishing Foodhallen and bustling foodie streets of Amsterdam West.

Juul manages a number of houseboats in Amsterdam and beyond.  All are incredibly highly rated.  You can find more details about his Amsterdam houseboat rentals here or why not consider a houseboat rental in Berlin or Paris from his growing collection.

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We were immediate converts and our boys are dying to plan their next houseboat adventure.

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Oscar (age 7) review:

i love the houseboat because you can smell canal air.

it’s good to see ducks and speedboats.

i rate it 10 out of 10.

it’s the best boat i’ve ever been on.

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