It’s the city of waterways and canals, and now you can sleep on your very own island in the middle of the Amstel River. Accessible only by boat, the tiny bedroom for two comes with a private captain to whisk you ashore 24/7. It’s the latest – and most luxurious – opening from the SWEETS Hotel, a project that’s radically redefining the concept of a hotel, offering a brand new way to experience Amsterdam.

Described as “architectural eye candies” (hence the name) by one of the project’s founders, Suzanne Oxenaar, the SWEETS Hotel is breathing new life into Amsterdam’s redundant bridge houses. These cabins were originally built to accommodate bridge operators (who would manually lift and lower the bridges to allow boats to pass) before the system was centralised. As disused industrial spaces go, these occupied prize positions, and the idea was born to transform them into independent hotel suites.

This is welcome news for a small city that boasts over five million visitors every year. Fast-shrugging off its reputation as a stag-do destination, Amsterdam is buzzing thanks to the arrival of the new Soho House earlier this year and a direct new Eurostar link with London. However, accommodation remains problematic; options are expensive and limited. The new SWEETS Hotel will offer 28 new rooms – 13 of which are now open with more to come over the next few years – scattered across the city’s canals in some of the most enviable, central locations.

Pick and mix from the properties on offer; each has its own unique character yet retains a sleek and luxurious hotel feel. Sustainability-focused Dutch architecture practice Space & Matter (other projects include Amsterdam’s popular eco-hangout, De Ceuvel) are behind the redesign. The decor is quirky and fun – bedrooms with crisp white sheets and fluffy pillows might also contain the bridge’s original control panel with space-age knobs and levers so you can play at being controller. Small but perfectly formed, each bridge house sleeps just two people.

The newest opening, Amstelschutsluis, is the jewel in the crown. Romantically marooned in the Amstel, it dates to 1673 and boasts views over the James Bond-famous Skinny Bridge. Underfloor heating is installed beneath the Dutch tiles, linen lines the walls and it’s one of only two of the properties to have a kitchen, complete with a cook on demand. But it comes with a whopping price tag to match, a scorching €1200 per night. A night’s stay in all the other houses costs from €140 a night, reasonable by Amsterdam’s standards where a night in most hotel rooms costs upwards of €200.

Take the Gerben Wagenaarbrug for example. Due north of Centraal Station you can see the enormous IJ River without lifting your head from the pillow; watch the ferries come and go, listen to the distant fog horns of passing cargo ships and wave to the smaller boats as they meander past the window. All the goings-on make it quite noisy; earplugs are provided but light sleepers should note the noise-level rating before deciding which house to book. Dating from the 1600s, each house is decorated according to its architectural era. Here the brightly coloured interiors are a funky nod to its 1965 construction. One of the most spacious of the bridge houses, the suite occupies three floors with sunset views from the third-storey kitchen.

Staying in the houses is simple, the front door is unlocked using a mobile key system via smartphone – so check in is seamless. With no welcome and no lobby to speak of you might well wonder how “hotel-like” the SWEETS feels. This comes in the smaller details; fluffy dressing gowns, slippers, stacks of arty magazines arranged on the table. But the emphasis really, is on experiencing life in the city. Each house contains an electronic tablet with a tailor-made neighbourhood guide so that you can explore the area like a local. A Dutch breakfast of hard-boiled eggs, cheese and rolls is delivered to your doorstep in the mornings. And the windows boast unrivalled views over the water, of boats bobbing on the canals and bicycles whizzing past.

It’s most definitely a hotel, just not as you know it.

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