ClinkNOORD, now that’s how you open a hostel! What a weekend!

Confession –> Before last week I had never visited Amsterdam before.

That’s terrible I know, but to be honest I’d always foreseen that I would likely end up visiting as part of a stag do.  Never did I really envisage that I’d explore the city as a backpacker.

I obviously understand that people do choose to backpack around Europe and visit Amsterdam in that such a way.  I may not be the sharpest tool in the shed, but I can appreciate that Amsterdam is a desirable travel destination.  I was however so very shocked to learn this past week, just how few hostel beds are available in Amsterdam vs the number of youth travellers and backpackers that touch down in the city each year.  I believe the statistic was something crazy like 3 beds for every 1000 youth travellers/backpackers. Daaaym, that’s almost criminal!

… luckily, that’s where Clink and ClinkNOORD come in.

Who are Clink and what is ClinkNOORD?

So Clink and ClinkNOORD.

Well firstly Clink are a hostelling group created and run by former backpackers, and who have been a major force in the London backpacking scene for a while now.  They currently have 2 different properties in London – Clink 261 and Clink 78, the larger of which (Clink 78) I was lucky enough to visit just over a year ago.

As a company they now looking to expand their hostelling empire outside of the English capital, starting with Amsterdam and their new hostel ClinkNOORD, which ever so recently opened its doors to the backpackers of Amsterdam.

Once again I was lucky enough to be invited to become Clinker for a couple of nights and sample ‘a new kind of social travel experience’ at ClinkNOORD.

As an added bonus I was also afforded the chance to get my very first taste of the Dutch capital, but more on that in future blog posts. For now, lets take a look at some of Clinks core values, and a more in depth look at Clinknoord.

The Clink Concept

  • Guest Experience
  • Great Value
  • Totally Equipped
  • Super Social
  • Connected
  • Positively unexpected.

Clink Aims

  • Build relationships
  • Demonstrate purpose
  • Create Experiences
  • Adapt to the market
  • Use social technology
  • Deliver satisfaction and value

The Clink Market

  • Youth Travellers
  • Families
  • Mature Travellers

Welcome to ClinkNOORD

So this the below is what the part of Amsterdam upon which ClinkNOORD now stands used to look like.  Not overly pretty hey!  Nothing more than a shell of a building and canvas for terrible spray paint.

A former Royal Dutch Shell head office and laboratory, built in the 1920’s and located just a stones throw from Amsterdam’s central station (actually it’s a 5 minute ferry ride, but the ferry is free and runs 24hrs) the huge brick structure clearly needed a new purpose in life, and massive face lift.

clinknood hostel before

Fast forward to September 17th 2015 and the front entrance to Amsterdam’s newest hostel looked ever so slightly different … and somewhat better I might add!

From the outside the building that houses ClinkNOORD could be described as somewhat plain and bland looking, but  things change fairly dramatically once you climb the entrance steps and enter through those sliding doors.

Inside ClinkNOORD there is a clean, fresh, artistic and scientific feel.  That last adjective might sound a little strange, but as you explore the hostel it is clear that the designers, who were all Dutch by the way, wanted to pay a sort of homage to the previous occupants of the building.  Just a few examples of this would be the ‘Zinc Bar’ in the basement, the lockers identified by chemical symbol rather than standard numbers, and the atrium green wall which has the word ‘LAB’ spelt out in humongous letters. Science!

Not a science or Big Bang Theory fan?  Fear not, the scientific references are fairly subtle for the most part (the atrium green wall aside), and there is plenty more about the hostel which is to be admired and enjoyed.

In line with Clink’s core values, a whopping 20% of the entire hostel has been dedicated to social space.  This includes the afore mentioned bar and atrium, but also includes multi level seating areas, a library, pool/foosball areas, and of course a nice big kitchen.  There is also a secret (ish) night club, but more on that later.  All of there social spaces have been incredibly designed in a style that wouldn’t be out of place on Grand Designs.  I challenge you not to be impressed upon your entry.

Don’t believe me? Take a look for yourself, the stained windows and atrium were personal favourites …

clinknoord hostel grand opening, Amsterdam

clinknoord hostel atrium, Amsterdam

clinknoord hostel Amsterdam

clinknoord hostel toilets Amsterdam

So that was a glimpse into just a couple of the social spaces within ClinkNOORD, but what about the rooms?

Now the idea is that you won’t spend an inordinate amount of time in your room, owing to Clinks ideals of hostel life being a social experience at its core i.e. don’t spend all day in bed on your lonesome watching Netflix. However the time you do spend in your dorms should be comfortable, and for the most part it is.

Personally I found the beds (not so much pillows) comfortable and liked the personal reading light over each sleeping space.  The showers were hot and powerful which is key for me personally, nothing worse than a cold, dribbling shower.  Charging stations were also plentiful and even included USB chargers (handy considering I had forgotten by euro adaptor).   Lastly there was in room wifi, which came in really quite handy although might lend itself to spending all day in bed watching Netflix.  Can’t win em’ all.

As with most hostels there are different room sizes available, ranging from 10 bed dorms to private rooms with en suite.  The 10 bed dorm option is obviously the cheapest and can be booked from €17 per night.  Private rooms start at €70 a night.

*These prices are correct at the time of writing, please check the Clink website for the most up to date prices.

clinknoord hostel rooms, Amsterdam

The ClinkNOORD Opening Party

WOW! What a’ night!

Of course with the opening of it’s new hostel, there was definitely cause for the Clink family to celebrate, and celebrate they did.

From the moment I walked up the red carpet (never felt so out of place in my life) and was led downstairs into the bar/kitchen area I could sense that the Clink opening party was going to be something special.

clinknoord hostel opening party, Amsterdam

clinknoord hostel opening party, Amsterdam

I also sensed that I needed food if I was to last the night.  No dinner and an open bar are usually not an ideal combination. Lucky for me there was food in abundance at the party, but not the sort of food I’m used to eating in a hostel. Oh no, this was a whole different ball game.

From the kitchen came popcorn frozen in liquid nitrogen, herb flavour ice cream, alcoholic ice cream and lamb that came with a squirty tube of sweet potato mash.  It was all a bit crazy, a bit out there, like some kind of science experiment.  It was as if the hostel used to be a lab of some kind … oh hang on a minute.  Clever!

clinknoord hostel opening party food, Amsterdam

Along with crazy and inventive food there was also crazy and incentive cocktails created by these mad scientist looking fella’s, the type of cocktails to put hair on your chest … or in my case, even more hairs.

clinknoord hostel opening party, Amsterdam

Fully fed and watered, the evening was shaping up rather nicely.  The buzz around the hostel was electric, with all manner of people related to Clink and the hostel industry mingling and enjoying the experience together.  There was yet more food presented, a GIF photobooth and the chance to help create a piece of art that would adorn one of the ClinkNOORD basement walls for a time to come.

There was so much going on and it was all so much fun!

Of course all the chatting and mingling stopped when the time came for the speeches.  First came a speech from Clink MD Liam Doyle who thanked just about everybody in the building, next was Clink Co-Owner Anne Dolan who expressed her thanks at how she had been able to realise a long term dream that evening by drinking a beer in an Amsterdam based hostel that she had helped build and create. Last up to the microphone was the Mayor of Amsterdam, who expressed his thanks to both the staff behind ClinkNOORD and also to the local community for accepting Clink into their neighbourhood and embracing what Clink want to achieve in their new Noord location.  All of the speeches was well executed in what were surely emotional circumstances, having invested so much into the building and opening ClinkNOORD, and they were equally well received by those in attendance of the opening.

Ribbon cut, and ClinkNOORD was officially open. Huzzah!

Formalties over a done with, it was time to get on with the evenings entertainment, which was led by 2 Amsterdam based bands who both christened ‘The Box’, ClinkNOORD’s (secret ish) soundproof nightclub in what was a dance heavy couple of hours!  They were followed by a local DJ (rumoured to be a part of the Clink security team by day) who kept the hardcore party go-ers in the building moving and shaking till the early hours … the very early hours … try 4am … and some in attendance had flights to catch at 7am. OUCH!

Luckily I did not fall into that category.  I fell into bed instead, and slept well into Friday morning having experienced a sensational party.  A fitting way to open ClinkNOORD.

clinknood_party_5

clinknoord hostel opening party, Amsterdam

clinknoord hostel opening party, Amsterdam

Clink Creative

Following the ClinkNOORD opening party, a lot of talk at breakfast the next morning centred around the two different bands who had helped christen The Box.  The two bands in question were Underscore and Gallow Street, both of whom are based in Amsterdam.

Local talent, or indeed any type of artistic talent is important to Clink, and one of the most interesting things about them as a company is their Clink Creative initiative.

If you are of an artistic mind or musical background, there is every chance that Clink may want to hear from you with the potential of working together on a project of some sort.  Check out their Clink Creative webpage to learn more about exhibiting your artwork at one of their hostels, or writing/performing/creating in exchange for accommodation.

The Future of Clink

Starting with ClinkNOORD, it should be recognised that the hostel is still new and therefore in it’s infancy.  Sure not absolutely everything will run like clockwork just yet, and I’m sure tweaks and changes will be made over the next few weeks/months in line with requests and management of the property.  But as someone who has stayed in his fair share of hostels over the past 10 years, it’s safe to say that I was impressed and enjoyed my stay.  And before anyone comes back with ‘but they put you up for free, of course you enjoyed it‘, please note that I stayed on after the initial opening party for another 3 nights at my own cost.  My views and this post have been written also from the viewpoint of a paying customer.

Like any service, there is always room for improvement (the pillows and air con controls maybe), but on the whole I really did enjoy the time I spent at ClinkNOORD and would stay again on my next visit to Amsterdam.

Moving on to Clink as a brand, while Clink 261 and Clink 78 have both been around and hosting backpackers for a while now, the opening of ClinkNOORD sees the start of an ambitious and exciting period for the Clink team.  By 2020 they aim to be set up in 7 different cities across the world, with the next in line strongly rumoured to be Paris … but don’t quote me on that.

It’s exciting times for Clink, and for backpackers who like their style of hostel. I personally count myself as one of those backpackers, and would very much like to thank the Clink team for all their hard work in allowing me to come join in the fun at the opening party.  Like I said before, that was some night!

See you Clinkers and Clinkees in Paris (maybe).

Clinknoord guide to Amsterdam on a budget

Heading to Amsterdam, but with limited funds?  Fear not, Clink have your back!

Amsterdam on a Shoestring Budget

Clinknoord Location

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Clinknoord Amsterdam