Pension Homeland – sixties-style tranquility in Amsterdam

Surrounded by water, a green park and tranquillity, yet in the middle of the lively city of Amsterdam and with a very special history, Pension Homeland is an extraordinary vintage continental sixties-style hotel in a unique location. Mr Hudson speaks to Christian, front office manager, about values of the property, the special relationships with colleagues and customers, and some of his favourite places in Amsterdam.

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Tell us about yourself

I moved to Amsterdam approximately 20 years ago from Germany. I studied photography and have been working in hospitality since I was 15 years old. I started to work with Pension Homeland 4 years ago and love what we are doing here. I am responsible for the hotel part of our multifaceted property which includes a restaurant, a cafe, a building exclusively for short stay and a brewery.

What experience can guests expect at Pension Homeland?

We try to let our guests experience the peace and oasis-like feeling the location already offers and make them feel at home. That sounds like a considerable hospitality cliche, but not being afraid to make mistakes and having fun while establishing meaningful social connections is what we enjoy the most. The industrial heritage of our buildings and the historical grounds that we are located on pervade the whole property. Our primary focus lies in creating a relaxed, welcoming and uncomplicated atmosphere while staying which us. Our entire ground floor, which features the bar, our so-called living room, and our restaurant with fireplace, is frequented mostly by local people, who come to work, enjoy a good cup of coffee or enjoy the views of the old city.  It makes for a very authentic and vibrant mix of people. The park that surrounds our property and the old navy harbour that touches the last tables of our outdoor terrace evokes the connection that Amsterdam has always had with the sea and water.

Pension Homeland Amsterdam - 11

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“All of the products used by the kitchen are sourced locally or are homemade – we produce our own charcuterie, honey and yoghurt”

What makes Pension Homeland special?

If you are familiar with Amsterdam, you will immediately notice about the great location, amidst majestic trees, and positioned next to the former navy harbour, which became the city’s latest outdoor swimming hotspot. The building and the multitude of things happening here also make this property unique. A former officers mess was repurposed as a place to enjoy a homebrew beer on the terrace next to the water while enjoying the sunset. All of the products used by the kitchen are sourced locally or are homemade. We produce our own charcuterie, honey and yoghurt! The latest addition to our kitchen crew is our personal patisserie chef Ian, who is working his magic just behind the kitchen and spoils staff and guests with macaroons, bonbons and desserts.

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“We now also attract a crowd of LQBTQ+ people who take a dip in the water or chill on the grass next to our outdoor bar”

What type of guests are particularly drawn to Pension Homeland?

Our guests vary from the startup just around the corner finetuning their latest pitch, to the neighbours who come in regularly; from business travellers to families who are discovering Amsterdam by bike. We now also attract a crowd of LQBTQ+ people who take a dip in the water or chill on the grass next to our outdoor bar. A mysterious location popped up on google and declared the grass field next to us ‘Amsterdam gay beach’, which adds to the fun and livelihood of long summer days within the city.

“I think what we try to do over here is be as authentic as we can and hopefully people pick up on that”

What is it you enjoy most about being a hotelier?

The most rewarding experiences for me as a hotelier are the guests and colleagues. Being able to see the appreciation and welcoming them again after they have stayed with us before, sharing stories, having all kinds of folks from everywhere sitting next to you and offering them a cup of coffee or a piece of advice on what to do next. The team, obviously the people who create magic and memories together. Being part of such an innovative and inspiring project as the Marineterrein Amsterdam and adding to Amsterdam a varied and fascinating hotel culture is what makes it all worthwhile.

How do you keep up with changing customer expectations?

I think what we try to do over here is be as authentic as we can and hopefully people pick up on that. We do make mistakes, and we certainly are not perfect, but being open and honest about that will make us better. Last but not least, humour is essential for our day to day operations.

Pension Homeland Amsterdam - BarKrukken

What makes a great hotel?

There is only one answer, and that is people. Of course, all the basics must be good, all the hardware so to speak. On the base of that, all the great experiences I had in my life in hospitality had one factor in common, which is: the people who worked there. In second place comes something everybody is after, but only a few know how to be it, which is authenticity.

How has hospitality evolved over the last decade?

The evolution of hospitality is at an interesting point. Global travel has never been more popular. On one hand, the trend is towards standardised properties and hotels, and on the other hand, we see a certain kind of individualism thriving. Shaping what the status quo looks like also means dealing with rejection or criticism; however, I strongly believe in dedication and passion for what you are doing.

Brewery

“Amsterdam displays a welcoming attitude towards all that is new, different or rebellious”

What makes Amsterdam such a great destination?

Amsterdam is unique. There is no doubt about that. It’s historical part mixed with a kind of ‘nordic’ mentality and attitude make for a contemporary melange which is nowhere else to be found. It’s sturdiness and welcoming attitude towards all that is new, different or rebellious. The combination of crowds, busy places and one street down the block solitude and pure beauty. The water. High culture mixed with working-class pleasures. Easily found yet hard to conquer. No city offers that village feel combined with such an arrogant charm but Amsterdam. Of course, there is also the Amsterdam everybody who visits comes here for the first time marvels at, the old city centre and the canals. My Amsterdam takes me further than that and celebrates the stunning beauty of ancient industrial heritage combined with Calvinistic elegance and pragmatism.

Amsterdam Canals

Photo: Bruno van der Kraan

Amsterdam Nightlife

Photo: Artem Gavrysh

What are some of your favourite places in Amsterdam that people need to know about?

Places I love are plentiful and diverse. Go and have dinner at La Vallade and let yourself be surprised by what the chef makes for you. Everybody eats the same thing. Have a coffee at Latei and buy the chair that you just sat on. For the ultimate local snack, head to Snacksalon Van Dobben, close to Rembrandtplein. Happy to dance the night away at our own little Berghain, De School, or go for one of the many barista-style cafes that have popped up recently, one of my absolute favourites being RumBaba in the east Amsterdam.

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