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Shelter City Hostel, Amsterdam

Posted by on 8 August 2008

Shelter City HostelIf you are looking for a safe, clean, cheap place to stay in Amsterdam, try the Shelter City Hostel. It’s a Christian hostel that’s drug-free, smoke-free and alcohol-free. If you’re a party animal, stop reading right now because this place is not for you. But if you like the idea of a hostel where men and women are segregated, where a curfew is strictly followed, is drug-free, smoke-free and alcohol-free, then please read on.

The location is very convenient — it’s about 2 minutes’ walk from the Nieuwmarkt tram stop, 15 minutes’ walk from Central Station, about 15 minutes’ walk from Anne Frank huis and Nieuw Kerk (New Church). Within walking distance are restaurants, cafes, coffee shops, quaint retail outlets selling everything from kites to shoes to costumes to souvenirs. Oh, and it’s right smack at the doorstep of the Red Light District. Lola and I accidentally found this out on our first night in Amsterdam, but I’ll write about this in a separate post.

The rates start from €16.50 per person per night for a 12-20 bedded room. The price includes hot showers (shared facilities per floor, which also have a common-use hair dryer) and a free breakfast. They offer 5 different combinations for breakfast involving eggs, ham, bread, jam, butter, and/or boiled egg. You can also opt for a hot breakfast, whose menu varies everyday, e.g. French toast for Sundays.

There are no lifts in this place and you need to go up two flights of stairs to get to the girls’ floor, with the second flight being impossibly steep and small. You either leave your heavy stuff with the reception or be prepared to lug your bag by yourself.

The rooms are small and spartan, but the sheets are crisp and clean. We had a sink and mirror in our room, in addition to the small lockers that are provided for free. It’s highly encouraged to lock the lockers but you must bring your own padlock or rent one from the reception.

It felt so nostalgic sleeping on the upper bunk bed, as it reminded me of my freshman year in Eliazo Residence Hall at the Ateneo de Manila University :)

Stairs Bunk Beds Sink


bunk beds


Steep & narrow stairs Bunk beds inside room Sink & mirror on the right

Most of the people who were there during our stay were young people (obviously!), but there were a few elderly guests, and even 2 Muslim ladies from Algeria who were wearing headscarves. The hostel welcomes everyone, irregardless of religion or belief… or even lack thereof. But true to their Christian nature, they have small Bibles stashed discreetly inside the lockers and also displayed conspicuously on the dining hall counter. They hold Bible studies, as well, but no one’s forced to join them.

Considering that the staff are all volunteers, I was pleasantly surprised to find everyone very friendly and helpful. I remember Michael, who patiently explained to us the house rules when we checked in and gave us directions to the new library near Central Station if we wanted free wi-fi. (We lost our way, by the way, and found the Red Light District instead.) There was also another guy whose name I never managed to find out who taught me how to pronounce ‘Zuiderzeeweg’ [zhao-der-zhey-wakh]. The people who served breakfast at the breakfast hall were also very cheerful.

Reception Breakfast Hallway

Shelter City Hostel reception

breakfast hall

hallway in girls’ floor

Reception counter
Breakfast hall
The girls’ floor

Check-out time is quite early — 10 am — but you can leave your bags for free at the reception until 6 pm on the same day of your check-out. Again, you have to provide your own padlock or rent one from the reception.

They have a strict 2 am curfew (definitely not an issue for me and Lola!), and they only re-open the doors at 7 am. Most of the guests abide by this curfew but others don’t seem to mind getting locked out. Apparently, they just spend the whole night partying, then hanging out later on at ‘coffee shops’ before finally going back to the hostel at 7 am to sleep. [A quick note on ‘coffee shops’ in Amsterdam. They don’t exactly sell coffee. People hang out there to smoke marijuana, which is perfectly legal over there.]

The Shelter City Hostel has another branch in the picturesque Jordaan area, the Shelter Jordan Christian Hostel.

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