The perfect blend of travelling with the comforts of staying in?
Location: Sarphatipark 106 b
1073 EC Amsterdam
A tremendous level of comfort in an uncertain time
So, myself and my partner decided very early in 2020 to book a little getaway for ourselves in March that year. As I had never been, we decided to book a long weekend in Amsterdam. A wonderful city with a lot to offer, now was the time!
Initially, we had attempted to book an Airbnb for our four-day stay but were met with cancellations left and right. My suspicion being that they saw we were Irish, and our trip coincided with St Patrick's day. I mean probable cause, I guess.
This said, we turned to the various hotel booking websites and one destination immediately caught my eye for somewhat obvious reasons. The Arcade Hotel.
The location was good, and it was a videogame centric destination. SOLD!
I waited in great anticipation to board our flight to the land of tulips, clogs and other things… Each week got us closer and closer to our getaway, excitement levels were understandably high. Then 2020 steps in and put a tremendous potential roadblock into our path. COVID19.
That’s right, the indescribably cataclysmic virus was very much on the horizon by the time our trip rolled around. Italy had closed its borders with Spain and neighbouring countries gearing up to do the same.
Should we go? Should we stay put and lose our bookings and deposits? In retrospect, I believe the decision to stay home would have been a lot easier, but keep in mind this was the early days, before Corona’s intensity had hit home, so we decided to go based on the low impact Holland was managing at that point. That changed quite rapidly but ill get into that later.
This is a caveat that I will be referencing throughout this review so I feel it important to bring you up to speed.
Location is key
On touchdown in Schiphol airport and a short train ride to Central Station, we decided to hoof it to the hotel rather than flag a taxi. It was a beautiful morning and we packed relatively light so it seemed like a good way to get my bearings. Delightfully it only took 30 minutes to walk from the station to the hotel (not including a much-deserved stop for breakfast), I had expected longer so already I was pretty happy.
That said, the hotel is located on the outskirt of the central city, just far enough to be walkable and peaceful, while also close enough that no destination was a chore. As someone who actively dislikes the rat race of metropolitan life, this was ideal to me.
The Arcade Hotel, located on Sarphatipark, is situated on a beautiful street, flanked with period housing and faces directly out to a large public park. The area immediately felt like the “real” Amsterdam city experience. Like most cities, Amsterdams city centre is highly tourist focussed, and rightfully so. However, this pocket of the city was filled with locals, trendy bars, stylish coffee shops, fresh bakeries and a general relaxed vibe. It was the kind of area I could see myself not only returning to but potentially living. You will, of course, want to do all the tourist stuff when you visit but having the option to hang back and relax among the locals who were always very friendly COVID considering, was priceless to our holiday experience.
Our quest lead us here
The Arcade Hotel is a three-star destination and straddles the line between hostel and hotel. This is in its favour I find but this is not a destination for those who seek out luxury. It’s a down to earth destination for down to earth people.
On buzzing in from the front door you are immediately aware of the theme that sets this establishment apart from the rest. A wall of comic books to your left with boardgames and geeky nick-knacks wrapped around a Pac Man cocktail cabinet. To your right a chillout area with floor level seating to kick back and play the provided retro consoles on offer. NES, Mega Drive, Atari 2600 and more all hooked up to CRT monitors. And between them all the check-in desk where we were greeted by a young smiling face who could not be more helpful if he tried, which he did! (this is a theme that persisted our entire stay)
We were informed of the many perks available to us while staying at the hotel, the items and areas mentioned above were available to us at all times and often had folks chilling out for an hour or two in between excursions.
However, if your looking for a more serious or contemporary gaming option, they’ve got you covered. Behind the check-in desk is an incredibly well-appointed Gaming room with multiple high-end PC’s if that’s your thing, along with a well-appointed console and VR setup that would make your man cave blush! More on this to follow.
If all this gaming wasn’t enough, we were informed that every room has a different retro console installed, with a selection of retro games available to be checked out from reception. Nice touch for sure.
A small eating area is available for the included breakfast, we however cheap’d out as we knew we'd want to eat out no matter where we stayed so I’m afraid I can’t speak much on this. However, this dining area opened to a decking where one could drink a Grolsch purchased at reception and smoke ‘em if you got ‘em. This was a nice addition that helped to feel more like a home from home rather than your traditional stuffy hotel.
Getting from the reception area to the room was also an experience. You can take the standard stairs, which I must say are very steep and maybe awkward for parents of young children. However the real option is to take the old loft-style elevator, lined with Magic the Gathering cards from head to toe, I often lost myself reading the cards on my short ascents.
The first impressions were very strong indeed.
Your very own save point
The Arcade Hotel offers several room types for your stay, accommodating for one, two three and four guest trips in multiple configuration types based on your budget, check out the full list of room types here. As there was two of us staying, we decided to go with the ‘Love Shack” room type (woooooo). A room configuration designed for two. Keep in mind this is the smallest of the shared bed 2 person room configurations but I don’t mind getting cosy! And a good thing too. The room we were given was approximately 10 sq meters, of which the bed took up most of. This, however, is not so much an issue with the room, but more the nature of Amsterdam hotelling in general. The efficiency of space is very high on the priority list and it shows.
The room was equipped with a functional desk area, hanging rack for clothing, a very comfortable bed and a fully equipped bathroom with standing shower and optional LED lighting accents. All very nice and no more or less than what we would have needed.
The room was decorated in a fittingly geeky style, with ours having Star Wars alternate versions of real-world vinyl sleeves hanging on the walls. All of which lit up by a semi full-length window which gave tremendous light in the mornings and early day.
Enough about that, what about the entertainment setup right? Well, this is the hook.
As you enter the room, your attention is immediately drawn to the generous 32-inch flatscreen, hung on a moveable arm above the foot of your bed, a very clever use of space.
Wi-Fi is provided and casting options are available which works wonders for keeping up with your stories.
Beneath which there were two consoles set up and ready to go, each with two controllers.
The first of which being an Nvidea Sheild TV, the most powerful android gaming box on the market with all streaming services ready to be paired to your account, along with any games available on the Ge-Force Now streaming platform.
However, most importantly there sat an N64, hooked up via composite, unfortunately, but never the less I checked out Mario 64 and enjoyed kicking back with it after several hours sightseeing.
The main attraction
As mentioned, the Arcade Hotels main attraction is its crazy well set up gaming room.
You are entitled to use this for an hour a day with your stay, however, it will be charged by the hour afterwards so do keep this in mind.
Several high-end PC’S lined the entrance to the room, glowing in multi-colour LED gaming PC glow, and were consistently in use from the residents. To my eye they games most being played were League of Legends and COD: Warzone, and as I’m not a PC gamer I didn’t feel too inclined to look at specs, but I was assured they were very highly spec’d out with a massive shared steam library for selection. Very nice.
Where my interested lay was in the console space, and man did I pick up a few ideas from this setup.
The first thing you will notice is the two huge flatscreens, to my eye 60inch approx each, set up in an over-under configuration, which was genius for simulating split-screen play using two consoles.
Beneath which were all the modern gaming consoles. PS4, Xbox One X, Switch, Xbox 360, PS3 and more. Each set up via HDMI to an auto splitter making jumping between consoles as easy as picking up your controller of choice of which there were many, throwing yourself onto the cool two-tiered couch area and get gaming!
To the right of the console space was a VR area, with a HTC Vive and all the peripherals on hand to get you immersed in the game. I mean this was a seriously cool setup.
The only caveat is that I, of course, visited during a time where sharing controllers and peripherals was not an advised tactic due to COVID. So, unfortunately, I admired at a distance, but I immediately started planning a CGC holiday for myself and our contributors for the years to come!
The resident NPC’s of the establishment
Given we arrived right as the worst virus of our generation swept the world, we had a particularly unique stay. Each day more and more tourist destinations began to lockdown, this then followed by any retail stores, followed by bars, restaurants and cafes. Honestly, we were lucky to get home with the way the world around us was falling apart.
All through this, however, the staff of the Arcade Hotel were exemplary in their service. The reception was generally manned by a young attendant (one of which from Northern Ireland surprisingly) which again gave the kind of hostel vibe but it was fitting given the theme of the location.
These guys were always really well informed on how to get around the city and what to see, do or where to pick up a pack of smokes.
Always available to dish out snacks and bottles of reasonably priced beer from the bar, arrange anything you may need for your room, or generally just chat.
This stay stands out to me as one of the standout service experiences I have ever had.
So how would I rate the Arcade Hotel overall? Well, we don’t believe in review numbers here at CGC, as you can read here, but I would give this destination a very positive recommendation. Both me and my non gaming girlfriend walked away with a very positive attitude to the whole experience and both agreed we would definitely stay again in the future.
I mean there's just nothing else like it in Europe to my knowledge and if like me you're a major gaming nut then it’s a no brainer for a long weekend.
It isn’t the fanciest of places, but that’s not the point. It sets out to be a hotel by name but a gamers hang out by design, and in that way, it truly succeeds. I'm already looking forward to that CGC trip! 😊
If you like what you’ve read and you want to check out the Arcade Hotel yourself, you can do so by checking their official website here with great information on the history and vibe of the destination or search for it on all popular booking sites.
All images were taken from the website and the official Arcade Hotel press kit.
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