May 26, 2017

Bike rental company in Amsterdam told to vacate parking stands

Filed under: Bicycles by Branko Collin @ 6:32 pm


The Amsterdam West district is cracking down on a new player in the bicycle rental market, De Westkrant reports.

Instead of using its own parking facilities, Denmark’s Donkey Republic parks its bright orange rental bikes in the street, often using public bicycle racks. The intended customers for these rental bikes are tourists, as locals already own bikes. Fenna Ulichki of Amsterdam West has now told Donkey Republic that if it doesn’t remove its bikes from public parking spaces, the district will remove the bikes themselves. It is not clear what the legal basis would be for this, considering other company bikes are also parked in public spaces.

Amsterdam is undergoing a double tourism and cycling boom. For example, the city registered four million overnight stays in hotels in 2000, and expects 8 million stays in 2017 (source: Dashboard Toerisme on, May 2017). Meanwhile the share of bicycle trips went from about 23% in 2000 to 27% in 2015 (source: Amsterdamse Thermometer van de Bereikbaarheid,, 2017). The bicycle is a hit especially among locals—currently 36% of all trips by citizens is undertaken by bike, handily beating out the car (24%).

It is not surprising then that car owners are increasingly satisfied about the amount of parking space they have. If you ask me, instead of framing this as an unsolvable and self-induced bike parking shortage, the city should simply start converting parking spaces for cars into bike racks.

(Photo: three Donkey Republic rental bikes take up most of the space in a bike rack on the Willem de Zwijgerlaan in Amsterdam West. Meanwhile, three cars easily take up three times as much space in the background.)

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September 20, 2015

Sleeping in a life-size sand castle hotel

Filed under: Architecture,Design,Dutch first by Orangemaster @ 9:27 am


Inspired by European ice hotels, two pop-up hotels (‘zandhotels’) made out of very 1000 tons of compact sand have opened in Oss, Noord-Brabant and Sneek, Friesland, which are already fully booked for this year. However, you can visit the one in Oss until 28 September and the one in Sneek until 4 October during nearby sand sculpture festivals.

The hotel’s basic structure is made of thin walls, covered inside and out with reinforced sand for sturdiness, while basics such as the shower, bathroom and bed are made out of normal materials.

Some media are calling it a world first, we’ll stay in our sandbox and call it a Dutch first.

(Links and photo:,

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July 16, 2014

French tourists ignore fines and sleep in their cars

Filed under: Automobiles by Orangemaster @ 9:36 pm

Maybe French tourists are onto something: why pay a lot of money for an overpriced, cramped Amsterdam hotel room when you can sleep in your car and get a parking fine you won’t have to pay in the end? Apparently, the fines the French are being issued are not being collected anyways, so pourquoi pas.

According to De Telegraaf some 20,000 parking fines were issued to French car owners over the last two years, but few fines were actually collected by Dutch authorities. Even blogs are telling the French to ignore those pesky fines, although the tax office claims they’ll have to pay eventually. I know many French friends who have come to Amsterdam, been fined for parking in the wrong place not being able to decipher what they had to do and never paid their fines.

According to local telly station AT5 French tourists are said to sleep in their cars, which upsets the locals. Maybe the tax office should collect those fines for real because when it comes to bureaucracy the French know how to snub the system more than you, you clueless Dutch tax office you.


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March 18, 2013

Film ad for Dutch wave pool (1953)

Filed under: History by Branko Collin @ 10:20 am

This video from 1953 shows an advertisement for an outdoors salt water wave pool called Bad Boekelo.

The film is called Zee op de Heide, ‘Sea on the moor’, which is ironic because Boekelo near Enschede is about as far away to the east of the North Sea as possible in the Netherlands. The video describes the wave pool from about 2 minutes in: “An ingenious construction with two mechanically moving doors creates a real surf.” The hotel was built to give the business people dealing with the nearby salt industry a place to stay, and filling the pool with the salt from nearby salterns must have been a nice gimmick.

The hotel still exists, but the wave pool (which was built around 1934) has been turned into a pond. The name of the salt company, then called Koninklijke Nederlandse Zoutindustrie, still survives in the KZ of Akzo Nobel.

Note that completely by accident this has become the third posting in a row where I describe the demise of a notable pool or resort in the Netherlands.

(Video: Youtube / Historisch Centrum Overijssel. Image: still from the video.)

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November 2, 2012

SS Rotterdam stays in Rotterdam

Filed under: General by Branko Collin @ 11:39 pm

The recently restored former passenger liner SS Rotterdam will stay in the city it was named after, DutchNews reports.

The ship was bought in 2005 by housing corporation Woonbron which wanted to turn it into a hotel and restaurant complex after renovations. Renovations, however, cost 230 million euro, which is 224 million euro over budget. Woonbron started capsizing and had to let go of the monumental steamer, and at the same time of its board member Martien Kromwijk.

NRC adds that the high cost was partially related to the unexpected presence of asbestos on board.

In 2009 the cost overrun was still limited to ‘merely’ 169 million euro, as 24 Oranges reported back then.

The new owner Westcord Hotels, a Dutch hotel chain, paid almost 30 million euro.

(Photo by Jakub Bogucki, some rights reserved)

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July 14, 2012

Dré Wapenaar’s tree tent hotel

Filed under: Architecture,Art by Branko Collin @ 2:36 pm

Rotterdam-based artist Dré Wapenaar came up with these tear-shaped tents that can be hung from the stems of trees.

Four of these tents are currently forming a hotel in Borgloon, Belgium, where they are part of an open air art exhibit called PIT. A one-night stay will cost around 70 euro, according to The Pop-Up City. Trendbeheer adds that guests can have their breakfast seated on furniture by Ardie van Bommel, a recent Eindhoven Design Academy graduate.

The temporary hotel will be open for business until September 30.

Check out the Trendbeheer article for more photos of the exhibition.

(Photo by We Make Money Not Art / Régine Debatty, some rights reserved.)

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December 8, 2011

Aggressive partners get free hotel stay in Amsterdam

Filed under: General by Orangemaster @ 10:48 am

Men (or women technically, although statistically men) who beat their wives and kids get a free hotel stay in Amsterdam thanks to the law of the temporary restraining order. (The English and French translations are a sloppy read, I bet the rest is too.)

Last year Amsterdam spent about 66,000 euro on the hotels and cab rides of aggressive partners, but Amsterdam wants to put a stop to it. Municipalities are not obliged to pay for these expensive stays by law, but it did make it easier to remove someone from their home for the 10 days of the restraining order.

Remember, this is a country where just last year a national government advert suggested battered women just talk it out with their aggressive partners and where in 2010, it was the only member country whose domestic violence phone help lines were not free to call.

In a time of serious cost cutting, other big cities will probably follow suit. I don’t see why we should provide anything to abusers but psychological help.


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September 29, 2011

Four of the 10 dirtiest hotels in Europe are in Amsterdam

Filed under: General,Health by Orangemaster @ 4:37 pm

Amsterdam has four hotels on the 2011 Dirtiest Hotels list on Tripadvisor.

First and second place are in Turkey, 3rd, 4th and 5th are in London, 6th and 7th are in Amsterdam, 8th is in London, and 9th and 10th are in Amsterdam. Recap: Turkey = 2, London = 5 and Amsterdam = 4.

Last year’s list is mostly shameful for the UK with 8, Italy with 1 and the Netherlands (Amsterdam) with 1.

“Free mice with every room!” and “All the sheets were spotted with hundreds of red dots.” sound quite disgusting to me.

(Link:, Photo is of a reputable, bicycle friendly hotel away from the nasty downtown hotels)

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February 9, 2011

Bicycles as shop signs

Filed under: Bicycles,General by Branko Collin @ 8:30 pm

On Monday I saw this bicycle sticking out of a wall in the Westerpark neighbourhood of Amsterdam to indicate that the shop below sells and repairs bikes. Later that day I saw that another entrepreneur in De Pijp neighbourhood had come up with more or less the same idea, except in this case to confusingly signal the presence of a hotel.

Granted, it was a bicycle hotel.

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July 19, 2010

Young Chinese entrepreneurs switching from restaurants to hotels

Filed under: Food & Drink by Branko Collin @ 8:33 am

Although Royal Horeca Netherlands has no hard data available, anecdotal evidence leads daily De Pers to conclude that Chinese families are moving more and more into the hotel business.

Vincent van Dijk, a ‘trend watcher’ who has taken it upon him to spend a night at a different Amsterdam hotel each night for a whole year, estimates that one in six hotels he stayed in were operated by Chinese people.

Alex Chang of Royal Horeca Netherlands sees a strong growth in hotels operated by second or third generation Chinese Dutch. He also notices investors from China are interested in buying or starting hotels in the Netherlands.

Is this the end of the archetypical Chin. Ind. Restaurant, establishments run by Chinese immigrants but serving mostly a sweet and greasy parody of Indonesian food, a cuisine the Dutch know from their colonial past? It took me a while to find such a restaurant for the photo illustrating this article (Ah Sang on the Overtoom in Amsterdam).

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