It’s a common travel conundrum: Book an amazing hotel and you’ll never want to leave your room. But then you might feel guilty for not getting out and exploring the destination you spent hours on a plane to get to in the first place. If you’re torn between your love of amazing hotel design and experiencing all a city has to offer, Amsterdam’s new SWEETS hotel will both challenge your concept of a hotel and solve your problem by placing your bed directly over one of the city’s main attractions—its canals.
Scattered throughout Amsterdam, SWEETS hotel is repurposing 28 of the city’s iconic bridge houses that were decommissioned in 2017 after a centralized bridge control system was introduced, making it unnecessary for bridge keepers to open and close them manually for passing boat traffic.
Unlike a traditional hotel, each SWEETS “room” is a stand-alone structure with its own one-of-a-kind interiors to reflect the architectural period of the exterior of the bridge house. Designs range from the brick-focused “Amsterdam School” style popular in the early 19th century to modernist structures.
The oldest house, pictured at top, is the Amstelschutsluis, which was built in 1673 in the middle of the Amstel River and remains accessible only by boat. The newest one is the Sluis Haveneiland, which dates back to 2009.
Because the tiny bridge houses are located throughout the city, travelers will get to explore neighborhoods that are off the typical tourist path.
“It’s amazing because they’re all over the city, in any neighborhood you could think of: east, west, north, south,” cofounder Suzanne Oxenaar told CNN Travel. “It’s not only the house, but it’s also putting the tourist up in other neighborhoods than where they would usually go.”
The project was the brainchild of Oxenaar and her partners Gerrit Groen and Otto Nan, the founders of Lloyd Hotel and Cultural Embassy in Amsterdam. Together, they teamed up with the Dutch architecture firm Space&Matter to renovate the bridge houses into tiny-house-like spaces that all have enough room to fit a double bed, a mini fridge, and a small bathroom.
At time of writing, 11 of the tiny bridge houses had been reopened as stand-alone hotel suites. The remaining 17 houses will undergo similar transformations between now and 2021. Here’s a closer look at three of our favorites that are available to reserve right now.
This 1960 Dirk Sterenberg bridge house on the Westerdoksbrug bridge is only a six-minute walk from Amsterdam Central Station. Decorated with bright pops of pink and blue, the interiors looks like something straight out of a Wes Anderson set.
Located on the border of the popular Jordaan neighborhood, the 1952 Kattenslootbrug bridge house was designed in the late “Amsterdam School” style. The Noordermarkt, which is open on Saturdays and Mondays, is only a nine-minute walk away and is ideal for anyone who loves farmers markets and flea markets.
The 1984 Buiksloterdraaibrug bridge house looks directly over a peaceful lake and the North Holland Canal in Amsterdam north. You’ll also have access to your own private lakeside lawn, which is perfect for a picnic in the summer.
SWEETS hotel tiny bridge houses start at €160 (about US$187 at press time) per night.