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Hotel Arena, Amsterdam 

51 Gravesandestraat
Netherlands 1091 AA
Tel: 31 20 850 2400
view web site ›'s insider take:

In Oosterpark, not too far from the city center, the St. Elizabeth building (circa 1890) was a Catholic orphanage turned youth hostel until 1999, when it was upgraded into this happy, still-youth-centric hotel. As is the norm these days, top designers were employed in the conversion—though you wouldn't immediately know it from the uniformly unadorned spaces with wooden floors, white walls, and white flat-pack furniture. Standard rooms look like the orphans never moved out and are to be avoided. Get an Extra Large if possible—they're huge and the furnishings are way more posh—or for top bang for the buck, one of the six suites that were added in 2004. Most of the character here comes from original construction: tall ceilings and 15-foot windows, and rooms with sloping ceilings tucked under the eaves, for example. One weird hostel hangover: Normally standard amenities—such as hairdryers and irons—must be requested and require a deposit. The cool and pretty upscale Euro-fusion restaurant, called ToDine (geddit?), the cartoonish café-bar ToDrink, and the ToNight club (a mini-Limelight in the old chapel) are popular and therefore noisy, so if you're not joining in with the fun, get a room in the back.

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