We've been to Amsterdam a few times over the years, but staying in a houseboat is definintely the best way to experience it. There's nothing like watching swans and ducks swimming past your window along with your morning coffee. The owner, Jack, and his fiancee, Liesbeth, couldn't have been more kind and helpful. Jack picked us up from the airport for a very reasonable fee, had equipped the space with everything we needed, ie, coffee, tea, fruit, wine, oj, and snacks; it was completely renovated w/a full kitchen, stove, microwave, fridge, bathtub, washer/dryer, and even an optional tuxedo kitty, Hank. (He comes in only if he's invited, but is extremely friendly and sweet--great for those of us who miss our pets.) The houseboat is near the center, transportation, markets, shops, and was very convenient. It's a more interesting way to see the city than staying in a hotel, and even more down-home than an apt. Jack and Liesbeth took us on a tour of the canals, which seemed much more personalized than the tourist boats, we stopped at a funky pop-up cafe on the water, and really got a better sense of the whole dutch zeitgeist and milieu. Liesbeth gave us local restaurant recommendations, one of which was in a repurposed pirate radio tower, and we watched the sunset onto the most spectacular 180 degree view of the sea. Unlike too many places in San Francisco, however, the food was very good, too.
We were lucky enough to have some very good weather, so it was perfect for walking. Jack took my husband, also for a very reasonable price, on a tour of nearby Waterland: typical Dutch scenes with windmills, cheese markets, and Delft china. We could have also taken day trips by train, so a car rental was completely unnecessary. As the houseboat wasn't actually a boat, more of a floating house, we were only aware of living on the water when we saw waterfowl sailing past, otherwise the water was completely stable and placid. It is surrounded by the lovely floating gardens Jack had put in, so we were thoroughly charmed. as my husband said about our stay: "there's not one thing I didn't like!"
I'd wholeheartedly recommend this property to friends or to anyone out there in the the ether looking for a personalized, interesting place to stay. if you've been to Amsterdam before, you'll be pleasantly surprised at how staying here will change your perspective. But if you've never been here or overseas before, I envy you, because you're in for a rare "Dutch" treat.