The Hotel That Prides Itself On Being The Worst In The World

by SharonKurheg

Every year, places such as Trip Advisor, Travel & Leisure, Forbes, etc., list their “Best Of” for every travel-related thing you can think of. Best airline, best city for families, most romantic resort for couples, etc. Each of these places usually makes a big deal out of these awards, with press releases and the use of their respective awards in their advertising.

Obviously, places that occasionally get awards for “the worst” of anything don’t make mention of it. I mean, Trip Advisor even made a list of the worst hotels in the world (take a look – some of them are AWFUL!), and, not surprisingly, none of them ever mentioned it on their websites. And the resort that got caught not allowing bookings for people of a certain ethnicity isn’t advertising that fact.

However using the idea that any publicity, good or bad, is a good thing, one hotel thrives on being, well, not that great. So they make sure that you know it.

The Hans Brinker Budget Hostel in Amsterdam has 511 beds in 127 rooms. It’s a low-budget facility that generally advertises itself to college-age kids who are going to Amsterdam for the joys of, among other things, legal pot and brothels, who want to spend as little as possible on a place to sleep it off ;-).

From their website:

a green sign with black text


Since day and age, Amsterdam has been home to a happy bunch of sailormen, creatives, prostitutes, housewives, and buccaneers. Since 1970, it’s also the home of the Hans Brinker Hostel. Enclosed by canals and with the Leidsesquare (‘entertainment area’) 5 minutes away, the Hans Brinker Hostel Amsterdam is located right where you want to be.

So take a walk to the Wallen and crawl back. Start the day fresh in the Rijksmuseum and end up in a canal. Dive into Dutch heritage, or the Brinker heritage, for all it matters. Or keep it sophisticated, spend your money in a famous nightclub and sleep until your back starts to hurt. As long as you’re sort of OK we’re happy to have you.

It’s not the only super duper low budget in Amsterdam, so to separate itself from the rest of the pack, its marketing strategy has always been, essentially, “We’re cheap, but heads up, you get what you pay for.” It must be working, because they opened in 1970, and are still open, over a half-century later.

Here’s some of their advertising from 1996 – I think it’s pretty clever, all things considered.

Their website sill focuses on the basics – that is, all you’ll get are the basics 😉

a green sign with black text

Welcome to the Hans Brinker: quite honestly not the best, but definitely the most memorable hostel in Amsterdam. At the Hans Brinker Hostel you get what you pay for. And because you don’t pay much you won’t get any of the following things: a swimming pool, room service, honeymoon-suites, a gym, tiny bottles of shampoo, a spa-bath or bellboys in silly hats. You will simply get a basic room in the centre of Amsterdam that is worth every penny.

We offer single, twin and dorm rooms, which fit up to 8 persons. We serve breakfast (for free), lunch and dinner (for money). In Amsterdam, after having drinks in our hostel bar, the shortest route to oblivion leads right to our basement. We can go up, we can go down, but we’ll never be average.

Even one of their email addresses tells it like it is: WHYISITSOHOT@HANS-BRINKER.COM

a yellow and black sign with black arrows a collage of images of a woman in a room

They’re a hostel, so you can book yourself into 4, 5, 6 or 8 bed mixed dorm ensuites (available from €26,00, €24,00, €22,00 or €20,00, respectively – that’s roughly $30, $28, $25 or $23) or if you’re “picky” (their words, not mine, they also have triple private ensuites from €30,00 ($35), twin from34,00 ($39) and single private rooms from €52,00 ($60).

The Hans Brinker does include a few (very few) services:

a shower with ice and water pouring out of it

And facilities (Yay curtains! And running water!):

a sign with text on it

And their central location is a perk, as well:

And I’ve got to say that their procedures for Covid rival some places I’ve seen in the U.S.

They get 3.5 stars on TripAdvisor (where they’re listed as a 1-star hotel) and some of the reviews are….different LOL!

We visited here a while back and it was only when logging in to my old account I saw this on here, the hostel itself wasn’t actually too bad, it looks like a prison inside but it was clean and that’s all that mattered to us. But, what I do think about often, is that the staff who broke down our door when I was in the shower because it obviously set some alarm off from the steam, so staff came charging in our room because I forgot to close the bathroom door, despite there being a sign. Luckily my boyfriend was sat on the bed, but we normally shower together, so you’re lucky he also wasn’t sat there naked. I just think that’s really strange and weird. It’s been a few years now and I think about this often. – Jodie, June 2021
the rooms were beautiful and very cozy, really nice decorations! My wife and I enjoyed it. The wifi was great, we took beautiful selfies. the view was so beautiful and lots of nature to see. The hotel was really luxurious and modern. The service was great. A nice hotel to go to after just being released from prison. – Bertram Lincoln the 24th, May 2020
It’s was all about getting drunk and having a good time so we really didn’t care about the accommodation, rooms were basic but had our own bathroom. Hostel was in a good area and near to the tram line so getting around was easy. – Dean, May 2020

Frankly, except for maybe the “picky” single or double private rooms, this isn’t a place I would personally stay at this point in my life (yet I’m dying to stay at a capsule hotel in Japan…go figure). Then again, I’m also not the prime demographic for the hotel (maybe for the college kids’ parents? LOL). But for those who are, it seems like a solid choice. And their marketing scheme is not only impressive but, after 50+ years, is working. So good on them!

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