We found it! Without hesitation the best family hostel in the Netherlands is the Stayokay chain. Scratch that, right now…our all-time favorite overall hostels in Europe are Stayokays. There are twenty-two of these gems scattered throughout the Netherlands.
Our first encounter with them was in a very off the beaten path location (Apeldoorn) which is located in the center of the Dutch countryside. We were treated to a cobblestone path through the forest to a simple yet amenity rich hostel. Just about every Stayokay will weave you through a unique, local, and beautiful journey onto their steps. The one thread that is always a constant at these hostels is frankly the one thing that matters most to us–they’re all clean and quiet. Each hostel has a unique vibe, and whether it is highlighting the history of the castle you are staying in or relaxing you in modern style, we have yet to be disappointed.
Welcome to the Netherlands!
Before diving into the Netherlands Hostel scene, let’s chat about the Netherlands in general. Most people somehow omit this Western European country from their list of “visit worthy” locations. Sure, the airport is a convenient hub to begin other European adventures. And sure, Amsterdam itself is a fantastic city to explore, but there is a lot more to discover in the land of windmills. Whether it is a pastoral countryside that you seek or a small town with medieval historic charm, it can be found there. The name “Netherlands” literally means “lower countries.” And in case you need a refresher from 4th grade geography, the fact that about half of the country is below sea level is the main reason for the impressive array of windmills and dikes. From purely an engineering standpoint, the country is well worth a visit.
The Dutch enjoy a fairly laid back lifestyle, and for the most part take great pride in their liberal approach to expressing one’s individual freedoms. Most people immediately think of the Red Light District in Amsterdam, or wafting clouds of smoke billowing out of a coffee shop, but the fact is that these notions are just a small part of what make the Dutch one of the most liberal and progressive people in Europe, or the world for that matter.
Our Experience at Stayokay Hostels
When we first came across a Stayokay hostel several years ago, we were fairly surprised. We stumbled upon them before having kids and knew that we’d be back with our kids someday. We had experienced a wide range in hostel quality–and the corresponding night’s rest that may accompany less than stellar roommates in other European hostels. Our stay at the first Stayokay was a breath of fresh air…literally. The room didn’t smell like stale beer and bleach. Winning! Overall, Stayokay has done a fantastic job with uniform quality while giving each location a unique local feel. A total selling point for us was the number of families that were at Stayokay. There was not one, but two family reunions taking place at one of the Stayokay hostels we visited. We have been impressed by how child and family friendly each location truly is. Anything that is easy, affordable, clean and fun gets our vote. Truly, we think these are the best hostels in the Netherlands for families.
Our style of European travel yields itself to the Stayokay layout. Each hostel is within a reasonable walk from the closest train station. We love traveling by train in the Netherlands with our kids! Even with backpacks on, the youngest members of our family have not struggled to walk themselves to our nightly stay. Ok, maybe we made a wrong turn in Haarlem, but that was definitely our fault… With that being said, getting to the destination is half the fun and we always get a good feel for the region. In all honesty, we have hopped on a train and headed to a town we are completely unfamiliar with because of a cool looking Stayokay listing. Each time we have thrown the proverbial dart at the dartboard of hostel listings we have had an absolute blast. In our meanderings we have always been delighted by our hostel guests. Whether it’s because rural Holland attracts a different crowd or because the family friendly vibe is off putting to the younger get-trashed and party all night folks, we have yet to have a bad stay.
How We Book Rooms at Hostels as a Family
It seems a lot of people are nervous about staying at a hostel with their kids. Perhaps because hostels typically have a bad rep as a place for partying co-eds to hang out while traveling in Europe. Our experience with Stayokay hostels has been the opposite. We have always have our own room and we have shared meals and laughs with other families, business travelers and people exploring the Netherlands by bike on long holidays. We have also frequently been the only Americans at the hostel, which is refreshing and confirms our “off the beaten path” style. We have been able to book a 6-person room for our family of 5 with a private bathroom and shower…and even have convinced my husband’s parents to join us in a hosteling adventure across the Netherlands. They were so impressed they booked additional nights at two more Stayokay Hostels (Amsterdam and Terschelling) before returning home.
Stayokay: The Best Family Hostel in the Netherlands
In a nutshell the things we love about Stayokay’s are:
- Clean comfortable accommodations
- Great selection of free breakfast
- Reasonably priced, delicious dinners
- Very family friendly
- Playgrounds, green space or kid friendly activities
- Private bathrooms/showers in our room
- Quirky bar areas with good local beers
- Each location’s unique vibe
So, do yourself a favor and go stay in a castle. Stay in a modern chic bungalow in Soest. Or perhaps you’d rather stay at a seaside cottage in Egmond. Or, you can do what we do and get the dartboard out. Whatever you decide to do, we promise your journey will be just as great as your chosen Stayokay.