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Inside CitizenM in Amsterdam

July 1, 2008 at 3:57 PM | by | Comment (1)

[Ed. Note: Our Scandinavian correspondent Coulter returns again for the complete review of the first-ever CitizenM Hotel. Enjoy.]

Even from the outside there seems to be something a bit different about the CitizenM at Schiphol airport in Amsterdam. Unassuming from a distance, as you follow the embedded lights in the sidewalk, you'll start to notice that there is something a bit different about this hotel.

It looks like a stack of a few hundred individually made concrete cubicles with wall-to-wall windows.

The reason, because that's exactly what it is, CitizenM's prefab hotel units are at the very core of what this hotel strives to be. The same hotel experience no matter where you go, with each room identical to the room next to it.

Their tag line is “Affordable Luxury,” a modern design hotel at budget prices and it's these pre-made cubicles that allow them to deliver at least partially on that promise.

Check-in: Entering the lobby the first thing you'll notice is red, from the bright red Plexiglas entrance way, to the equally bright red Vita furniture, if you like red, this is the entrance way for you! Next you'll notice CitizenM has forgone the usual check-in counter in lieu of an electronic check-in.

This being an airport hotel, think airport counter check-in versus the new automated electronic check-in, a switch CitizenM says saves them money, which they can then pass on to you.

All in all, it was relatively simple. There was somebody to help me use the computer, but even with out his help the touch screen interface was simple enough for even grandma to use.

Common Spaces: The majority of the bottom floor of the hotel consists of common spaces, from a food center with pre-prepared meals, a small business center with two quite fancy looking apple desktops, and several more social areas, all brought together by a strong focus on design.

The hotel oozes a modern and hip sensibility, one that it is clearly trying hard to attain, and although it would be easy to say they are trying a bit too hard, everything comes off aesthetically pleasing and basically functional.

Room Reaction: The uniqueness of the integrated bathroom design means the first thing you notice is not the 14m2 size of the room. (Good thinking, CitizenM!)

In order to save space, and to make the room itself seem bigger, CitizenM has forgone the normal separate bathroom and placed the shower and toilet in individual Plexiglas tubes inside the room itself.

The shower tube is transparent and the toilet tube is thankfully opaque. Staying alone I actually enjoyed the experience, it was unique, functional, and as intended it made you feel like you were in a larger space.

However, and this is a big however, your enjoyment of this design likely rests on who you're staying with, great for you when your girlfriend is using the shower, not as great for your girlfriend when your using the other tube.

To be fair there is a white curtain that can be drawn for extra privacy, and the toilet has a suction fan for unpleasant odors, but nothing can replace a locked bathroom door for that, "I could sit here all day sort of feeling."

A vanity, chair, twin nightstands and a bed take up the remaining space. The bed is comfortable and surprisingly big, stretching from wall to wall in the back of the room. There is even a CitizenM doll on the bed for those who get a little lonely in the night, beware of the one in room 118 as it is now covered in tears.

Airport View: The window is large, taking up the entire back of the room, and the view is well, of an airport. Being on the first floor I could only see part of one plane, but my guess is for those at higher elevations you'll get a good view of the planes taxing around the grounds, which should satisfy all those with disturbing airplane fetishes.

The only complaint here is that the blinds are integrated in the window and although they let plenty of light into the room, they cannot be drawn up and the window itself cannot be opened.

Amenity Madness: Mood Pad? I thought you'd never ask. The room experience is centered around the Phillips' mood pad, something akin to a PDA that with the click of a button lets you select or create different room environments by altering the music, lighting and a Phillips flat screen TV to name a few.

The pad itself is easy enough to use and should only scare the truly tech-phobic. The themes vary from Romance to Work with several others along the way.

The most noticeable effect they seem to have on the room is the aforementioned bathroom tubes begin to glow in a steady stream of different colors, there is also some cheesyish make out music for romance and a quieter brighter look for work.

They're fun to play with and add a nice touch to the room, but lack a simple off switch.

Internet Connect: CitizenM thankfully offers free WiFi to all its guests, and free movies in the room. The WiFi worked fine in my room and the movie selection was good enough, unless you come to Amsterdam only to watch free movies in your hotel room in which case you're an idiot and there is no point in talking to you anyway. There is no gym or pool to speak of, so if these are crucial for you better to look elsewhere.

Staff: It’s hard to be sure at a Press event if the staff will always be so helpful, but I found everyone I encountered at CitizenM to be insanely helpful and friendly.

Location, Location, Location: Maybe the biggest complaint that I have about this hotel is it’s airport location. The hotel is in Amsterdam and all the action is in the town, from the coffee shops and the famed red-light district to the many museums and various other cultural crap.

Either way, you're about a 15-20 Minute train ride to the center. There really isn't much non-airport related action around the hotel so if you like being in the middle of it, you might want to wait until they open their other location closer to the center.

That being said if you have an early flight or an airplane fetish at the price it would be hard to beat the CitizenM.

Bottom Line: Did CitizenM provide “Affordable Luxury?” Luxury is a relative term, so if you're used to daily foot massages from Thai lady boys, this might not work for you. If your idea of Luxury is a big bed, a decent shower, and a nice TV in a clean and modern but small hotel room, and you don't mind having your bed and toilet in the same room, than this hotel is likely right for you.

As far as Affordable goes, if you can book the 69 euro starting price, I would go as far as to say it would be near impossible to find anything that offered the same level of comfort and convenience at an equal or lower price.

If I needed an airport hotel in Amsterdam and was staying by myself or with my girlfriend I would definitely choose this hotel. My girlfriend however might make me use the lobby bathroom.

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Re: Inside CitizenM in Amsterdam

"the toilet has a suction fan for unpleasant odors":: interesting!

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