So lets get this thing started, shall we? As I stated in the last post, planning a vacation is honestly the best part. So while I will post lots of pictures and goodies from my travels, I will also include you in my planning.
I have finally managed to select a hotel for the duration of my Amsterdam vacation thats coming up in late July.It was a tough decision, but I had narrowed it down to a handful of locations. I wanted to spend some time at the Black Tulip, but I learned they would not be open for Pride. Apparently, they are closing down for renovations. While I am not into the leather or torture scenes, I like the eclectic and the odd, and it just seemed like something that should be done. But it not being an option forced me to move on. Its important to me to stay in a gay hotel first to ensure that I am supporting the local gay community but also because I like not having to be on guard or worry about offending other guests with displays of gayness. This is a vacation and the goal is to let loose, including letting my guard down and being open. Staying at a gay hotel means I can feel free to have a nice, friendly breakfast conversation with a willing guest about cock sucking, rimming and anal penetration without worrying I am offending the guy reading his newspaper.
So after lots of website reviews and talks with hotel staff, I’ve decided that I’ll be staying at Hotel Amistad, the biggest asset at which seems to be the staff thus far. I have been engaged in an e-mail conversation for several days and have now talked to most of the staff at least once. When they found out I was planning to stay 13 days, they offered to throw in a couple of perks: a free canal tour on their boat of the city (they normally charge for this) and they are giving me the single rate on a double deluxe room. The conversation is friendly despite my numerous questions and the staff seems eager to please. This bodes well. They seem to understand their business and that a hotel room is more than just a place to sleep n’ fuck.
Part of the art in finding good places is the ability to intelligently navigate reviews. People love to bitch about all sorts of stuff and having worked in customer service, I know that some complaints are just pure bullshit. For instance, one reviewer bitched that they gave him a tourist map on checkin with only gay destinations on it. Well duh, it is a gay hotel! Who woulda thunk it, huh? If you want to go to the breeder bars, then why not head to the Movenpick or one of the other many, many hotels that caters to breeders? That would be, like, every hotel that does not bill itself as a GAY hotel. I’ll tell, you some people…
Helpfulness of the staff is followed closely behind – according to the positive Trip Advisor Reviews on the Amistad – by the establishment’s location being close to all of the key gay district entertainment and public transit. I know Amsterdam is big on walking – so this exercise is gonna do my fat ass some good – but I don’t want to die from it. This seems to be a nice mix of healthy walking and public transit. Its unlikely anything bad will happen to me as a result, so thats a good thing.
One item that seems to be bitched about quite often is the lack of air conditioning at the hotel. In the United States, the notion of a luxury hotel not having air conditioning is absolutely unheard of. Even Motel 6 has A/C now. But most countries are not as pampered (and its citizens not as spoiled) as those in the United States, so its not uncommon to find in Europe. The hotel has assured me that I have a ground floor room with patio that is always cool and the climate there is not all that tropical to begin with. This seems acceptable, given the European customs of the area. The average temperature seems to be in the mid 70s and I can do without air conditioning in such weather.
One thing that is worrisome is the Trip Advisor negative reviews. When they are bad, they are REALLY bad. However, it appears that there was a change in ownership at some point and some mention a remodel. Others mention that its now owned by current or former US Citizens who are/were fixing the place up and making changes. I have been assured that I am not in the annex (which seems to be an overflow part of the hotel – and in fact Mike tells me they are not even part of the hotel – many of the complaints seem to come from there) and am in fact being put in one of the most requested rooms.
Further research, however, seems to suggest that Trip Advisor reviewers are being idiots. People on the internet, using their anonymity to be dumb. Say it isn’t so! The little inn is recommended by Logo’s TripOut Gay Travel and it gets a nod from Lonely Planet, which says “There are plenty of hotels for gay men in Amsterdam, but the Amistad does it right with a mix of service and style.” TimeOut Amsterdam greenlights the place as well, saying “…this hip hotel shines like the pages of a trendy glossy magazine.” I think this is a case of a competitor trashing the name in user-submitted reviews or something. All of the reviews by the professional magazines seem to say its a great place, while the user reviews are saying its crap. That don’t add up and if I have a choice between putting my trust in an anonymous review on the Internet and the reviews of Lonely Planet and Logo editors, I guess its not really much of a contest. To top it all off, Mike has promised to send some pictures to me in the e-mail of the exact room I will be staying in as I requested when it comes empty next time and for me, that seals the deal.
I’m gonna give this a whirl at a total cost of 1872 Euros for a Deluxe Room – their best. We’ll see how it all turns out. Its quite the gamble and I am going to be pissed if it doesn’t work, but I am feeling lucky today. Its a calculated risk, but I have a good feeling about the place. Either way, I’ll post an honest review once I checkout and clear the little mystery up once and for all.