In choosing which hostel to stay in I always consider the following: cost, location and reviews. As a budget traveler, amenities are just a bonus. As long as I have a bed to sleep on, I consider the rest to be the icing on the top.
Finding accommodation in Amsterdam was no exception. At first I was looking for a cheap place within the city center. Location is always important particularly if you are on a short trip and want to maximize your stay. I looked at Hostel World and Tripadvisor for some hostel listings. Although I saw a lot of reasonably priced hostels, there was one that caught my attention. The hostel’s name is Lucky Lake Hostel. A hostel with a lake? Who could resist that?! The only catch is, it is 30 minutes away from the center of Amsterdam. It is located in Vinkeveen, a town in the Dutch province of Utrecht, 18 km south of Amsterdam. I almost passed booking this hostel but after reading all the reviews, I knew that this was just the place I was looking for.
Here are Lucky Lake Hostel’s ratings in different websites (based on past guests’ reviews)
www.hostelworld.com = 91%
www.tripadvisor.com = Certificate of Excellence
google reviews: 4.9 out 5 ratings
www.hostels.com = 92%
www.booking.com = 9.1 out of 10 ratings
I found that, although a little far from the city center, it would still be fairly accessible – just one metro ride away. I was sure I could overlook the distance when I would gain a quiet and relaxing place to stay.
After landing at Schiphol Airport, my journey to the hostel was simple. Firstly, I purchased a 3-day unlimited transport card which covers the trains to and from the airport, the metro, trams and some ferries (more of this in my upcoming blog on what I did in Amsterdam). Arriving at Holendrecht Station, the pick-up place for the hostel shuttle could easily be found. I saw other guests waiting for the shuttle as well (yey – instant friends!).
As we drove further and further away from Amsterdam, it became clear to me I had made a good decision in choosing this hostel: from a backdrop of buildings and town houses the scenes gradually transformed into grassland and cattle.
Eventually we arrived at our hostel and the first think I saw was a cute cluster of brightly coloured trailers beside a very funky-looking reception area. As I received my welcome kit (yes they have a welcome kit!) I knew that this place would be different from any other places I have stayed in.
Even though there were several trailer dorms on offer, I was given a cottage-style room. At first I was a little bit disappointed. I wanted a trailer room! But as soon as I saw how cute the interiors of our little cottage were, I stopped complaining to myself.
Our room was very clean (considering it was a hostel – and 2 beds were already occupied). It was very spacious, with plenty of room for all our stuff, even if we placed all our luggage on the floor (hahaha – those who stayed in hostels know this very well).
There was also a study table which you could use as a dining table (but I recommend you to eat outside). The beds were pristine and very comfortable. I love that you are expected to put the covers on your own duvet and pillow cases: I have had the same experience in hostels in Denmark and Germany, and it makes everything feel cleaner. It was comforting to know that each guest was given their own locker and ….wait for it ..wait for it …..you don’t need to bring/buy your own lock as the hostel provides one.
All showers and vanity are communal and mixed. Even though the hostel was full, there was never a line for the shower (or maybe I just always managed to take a shower earlier than the rest of the guests).
The hostel is organized to feel like a small community of campers instead of being a hostel. Because of this, there are a lot of common areas for all the guests to mingle and sit down together. There is the breakfast bus, the barbecue and kitchen area and also several tables around the grass areas.
The hostel offers free breakfast for all their guests. Aside from the usual cereal, toast+nutella+butter and preserves, they also offer DIY pancakes and poffertjest (mini pancakes). Yheap, the Dutch love their pancakes. I love that most of the hostels offer free breakfast because I often get stuffed in the morning and skip lunch hahaha — YEY for saving some Euros for museum entrance fees!
I loved that Lucky Lake was away from the city but not too much. You can easily visit the center of Amsterdam, with their shuttle service running every 30 mins during the day) while also being able to enjoy being in the countryside. So my first impressions of the Netherlands were views of a refreshing lake and a quiet community with beautiful, cute houses along a series of interconnecting canals.
During check-in, I was given a map with with my welcome kit that showed all nearby villages which can be accessed by bikes. Of course, I won’t pass on any opportunity to hop on a bicycle, so after dropping my luggage inside our room I immediately rented a bike (for 1.50 Euro/hour) and ended up biking around for about 3 hours ( they charged me only for 2 hours – yey!). Aside from going around the lake and getting lost around the villages, I was able to buy some groceries which would become my very first dinner in the Netherlands.
My favorite part of staying in any hostel is the people that I meet, so aside from enjoying the view and all the amenities that Lucky Lake Hostel offers to its guests, I was delighted over dinner to be able to meet two American ladies and two Swedes with whom I got to discuss taxes and social welfare systems around the world (whew heavy I know). Most of all, I enjoyed getting to know my two Scottish roommates, who were visiting the Netherlands on their way to France. The staff members were also very friendly, most of them being travelers as well who had applied to help out in the hostel for a summer job and maybe free lodging.
I really enjoyed my stay here. Although I wasn’t able to maximize the lake (kayaking, swimming..etc because it was too cold for me and when the sun was out I was touring around the city center), it was a completely different environment from Amsterdam. After a busy and crazy day strolling around Amsterdam, it is a perfect place to relax and cap your awesome day in the Netherlands. Now I know why everyone is raving about this place. Now its time for you to try it yourself.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CHECK OUT THE LINKS BELOW