Occupying a former orphanage on a preserved, 19th century red-brick square, the Hotel Arena, tel: (31-20) 850 2420, was an art center-cum-hostel until it went upmarket some years ago, and six new, mostly duplex suites have been added. These showcase work by the Netherlands' hottest artists and designers, including Piet Hein Eek and Marcel Wanders, and the overall look is conspicuously contemporary. Arena also houses Tonight, the city's nightclub du jour, built in an old chapel.
The prize for the quirkiest hostelry in town goes to Xaviera Hollander's Bed & Breakfast, tel: (31-20) 673 3934. You won't find much art here, but you will find artists and creative types aplenty, drawn by the frequent presence of celebrity owner Xaviera Hollander, author of the best-selling 1971 memoir The Happy Hooker. The former New York City-based sex columnist trades in matters of the soul these days rather than the flesh, organizing house parties and bringing home arty waifs in the manner of an old-style salonière. Her grand old house in Amsterdam's southern suburbs has only two guest rooms, so book well in advance. If the mistress of the house is around, be prepared for anecdotes that will lend real spice to your stay. In fact, with hotels like these, who needs museums?