At the start of the third week of May each year, thousands of food and drink industry professionals descend upon the RAI Exhibition Center in Amsterdam for the annual PLMA World of Private Label trade fair.
As a veteran of this – and often charged with finding accommodation for our teams for the show, i’ve often struggled with figuring out where to stay to optimise both the show experience – and get the most out of my favourite city of Amsterdam.
But i think i’ve cracked it…. and now i’ll share it. Which might actually hinder my results next time… ah well.
The best accommodation for PLMA
The Student Hotel Amsterdam City
Link to website
Located next to Wibautstraat metro station, this cool, understated hybrid of professional hotel and student accommodation is just 8 minutes from the RAI with the Metro, and 11 minutes from Amsterdam Centraal Station on the same Metro line. (yes, that’s 20 minutes from RAI to Centraal via your hotel to change to your dancing shoes).
They have a great bar and restaurant serving well made staples with a smile, a small but fully functioning gym, sturdy citybikes to rent for peanuts, – and, as they say on the website, they “pulverise the rulebook on hotel design”.
With superb free WIFI throughout – i even clocked 50MB download in my bedroom (!), and work break out areas (ping pong if you fancy), the Student Hotel is by far my favourite choice for staying with a group – or on my own, whilst at PLMA. The rooms are ace too. I really can’t fault this place. I’d live here if i could.
Hotel CASA (aka CASA 400)
Link to website
About one KM further south down Wibautstraat you’ll find Hotel CASA on the banks of an Amstel river side canal. It’s a 2 minute walk from Amstelstation Metro – and so just as easy access to RAI as The Student Hotel (above).
Again, a hybrid of posh student accommodation and corporate hotel, what i like most about this place is the understated bar and breakfast cafe area. The baristas here really know what they’re doing – it’s one of the best cups of joe i’ve had in the city.
The rooms are smaller than at Student Hotel, and there’s no gym – although the SportCity complex across the road is excellent.
The ultimate benefit is that its also a very pleasant 20 minute walk from the RAI through some lovely residential areas. And when you’re stuck inside for two days solid, a 20 minute walk back to your hotel from your stand can be the difference between a good, and a great trade show experience.
My last tip is to jib the hotel completely and stay in a private apartment. For a few years i’ve chosen to do this with a couple of my colleagues. At the start, this was due to lack of rooms in our chosen group hotel… but once i realised this was a great way to get the both of both world’s, it’s become a favourite. It’s also proven to be much cheaper than the hotel room prices i’ve had to pay in the trade show hotels.
I tend to rent places in the Jordaan area. It’s pretty, quirky, and away from the maddening crowds of the central area – but it’s got loads of great restaurants and open spaces to find your head space. Needed after a long day pressing palms.
This place is a lovely airy townhouse, 15 minutes walk from the central station, and a 5 minute jog from the lovely Westerpark.
This designer place is on a quiet street just around the corner from Anne Franks house museum – spread over 3 floors with great spacious rooms and a solid WIFI connection and fully equipped kitchen. Great for groups of 3 or 4.
This was my first place – I was staying there alone, and it’s about the ultimate chilled experience of Amsterdam. The kitchen opens up onto the canal, and it’s next door to one of the cities best small cafe’s. It’s also a 10 minute walk from Centraal Station. A memorable authentic Amsterdam experience.
There are of course hundreds of other places to stay in Amsterdam. These are just my top tips for getting the balance right.
I’m always open to ideas – so if you’d like to recommend a place, please leave a comment. And if you’re at PLMA Amsterdam this year…. let me know, and maybe we can grab a coffee. I doubt it’ll be as good as the one at Hotel CASA though 😉