Hotel or apartment?
It’s the big conundrum when we travel as a family. We tend to favour apartments which offer us unrivalled flexibility and space but AirBnB’s can be unpredictable and sometimes isolated in the suburbs of an unknown city.
So when we heard about Yays, we were immediately sold on the concept. Offering the best of both worlds, Yays have three buildings in Amsterdam promising spacious, modern serviced apartments in landmark buildings with the added benefit of a concierge service.
Here’s why our two night stay was the highlight of our recent trip:
Yays have three Amsterdam properties – two in the West and one in the East. All are based in historic buildings in quiet areas just outside the city centre. Amsterdam is really small, so when I say just outside I mean just. We opted for the Zoutkeetsgracht building. Located on the quiet Western Islands, the beautiful former salt warehouse is about 20 minutes walk to Central Station. But much more excitingly it’s less than ten minutes walk to the wonderful Haarlemmerplein and the gorgeous Westerpark (click to find out more about why these are some of my favourite Amsterdam locations); a five minute walk to the ferry terminal for the free ferry over the river Ij (perfect for exploring the hip and happening North of Amsterdam); a direct tram ride to the museums; and best of all – a short cycle ride to anywhere in Central Amsterdam worth going to. There’s even a playground and basketball/football court for the kids a minute up the road. Situated on a lovely quiet canal, the Western islands are residential but not suburban, and the perfect place to explore.
Our apartment was modern, spotless and very cleverly designed. As a former warehouse, the heritage building naturally has design restrictions, but by bringing in Jan des Bouvries – a famous Dutch architect, interior and product designer – they have made the most of the space. Our living area had a wonderful large family table, a very well designed kitchen with everything you’d need for modest self catering and a lovely lower-level sofa area.
Downstairs were two bedrooms (a twin and a double), a huge wardrobe, a fantastic shower room (fluffy towels and amenities included) and a separate toilet. The mattresses, pillows, duvets and bedding were absolutely top notch (another HUGE win over an Airbnb) and the rooms were quiet. Windows are limited downstairs due to the style of the building, but as a quiet space to sleep they could not have been better. The highlight for our kids though was the glass floor in the living area, letting light flood down to the hallway below, and the perfect place for 6 and 7 year old boys to peer up and down, and invent new games of hide and seek in three dimensions.
The concierge service
The apartment would be a winner in its own right, but everything is elevated to a superior level by the Yays “unlock the neighbourhood” ethos. Instead of apologising for being located in a less touristy part of town they have rightly focussed on all that’s best about being based in the Zeeheldenbuurt. They do this so brilliantly, I can’t imagine why other hotels and apartments haven’t adopted the same idea. Working with bloggers, boutique shop owners and restauranteurs, they have produced a neighbourhood guide packed with tips for all that’s best in the area. As a blogger myself, I found many of my best “secret Amsterdam” tips featured, as well as heaps of others and it’s a joy to find a business ‘giving back’ in a mutually beneficial way to the community. The book itself is beautifully designed, with a wraparound map – perfect for old-fashioned exploring. And as if that wasn’t enough, Yays have a 24 hour concierge service. The staff show true passion for the neighbourhood and are not just willing but genuinely excited to share their tips for the places they love the most. With bikes available to rent, and all the info you need to unlock the real Amsterdam, getting out and exploring could not be easier.
So whether you’re a family looking for child-friendly accommodation, a couple, a solo traveller or a group, Yays really does offer something uniquely wonderful and I urge you to consider making the most of your own Amsterdam Yaycation.
YAYS also has a great app, with their personal favourite restaurants, nightlife and attractions and useful information.