You simply cannot visit Holland without seeing a cheese-related thing or event. Whether it's a local cheese market (for example in Alkmaar or Gouda), a cheese museum or a cheese tasting, without cheese your visit to Holland isn't complete. What could be better than spending a night (or two) in the cheese capital? We stayed at the Grand Hotel in Alkmaar.
Alkmaar is well-known for its cheese trade since the start of the Cheese Carrier's Guild in 1593. The trade took traditionally place on the cheese market, which is now also an important tourist attraction. Interesting fact, the cheese market in Alkmaar is the only cheese market in Holland that is still a place of trade and isn't just there to entertain tourists. The cheese market takes place every Friday morning between 10 am and 12:30 pm from the first Friday in April till the first Friday in September. The cheese market is a major attraction in Alkmaar, but the city has more activities to offer.
Staying at the 4-star Grand Hotel in Alkmaar
The first thing we have to say is no worries, this 4-star hotel in Alkmaar won't break the bank (see their latest low priced deals). The big advantage of this hotel is… Location (as all realtors will agree to location, location, location). And the Grand Hotel in Alkmaar is super centrally based.
It's located in a relatively quiet street that runs parallel to the main shopping street (Breestraat). Parking your car can be a challenge as all parking spaces are paid parking spaces. But getting to Alkmaar by train is easy and the hotel is just a 10 to 15-minute walk from the train station.
As soon as you arrive at the Grand Hotel in Alkmaar you're wowed by the building, which is a typical canal-type building that was the main post office in the old days. The rooms are modern and spacey. Ours was located at the corner of the building on the second floor, so we had heaps of windows that offered a view of the city (rooftops and the big church).
Review of the hotel: likes vs dislikes
As with all modern looking hotels, there's always the issue of design vs functionality. While the Grand Hotel in Alkmaar didn't that much of that issue, there still is the issue of the bathroom being on the opposite side of the room of the bathroom. Washing your hands after visiting the toilet meant walking across the room to wash your hands. But then you run into the problem of soap not being supplied at this 4-star hotel. Weird. Luckily the staff at reception was friendly enough to arrange for some soap to be delivered to our room. Well, that is what they promised… It turned out it was a promise they couldn't keep, so no hand soap for us.
The beds are comfy… Well super comfy. You'll have a great night sleep and we'll be woken in the morning by the sounds of the streets around you. That's the big advantage of sleeping in the city with all windows open. By the way, close the windows and there will be hardly any noise.
They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Well for us it's an important factor when reviewing a hotel. And the breakfast at the Grand Hotel in Alkmaar was good. Not great, just good. Unfortunately, all the hot foods (eggs, bacon, and sausages) were already gone. We had breakfast at 9:30 am (they serve it until 10 am), so it's a shame to see the empty chafing dish. The croissants and Dutch delights (like chocolate sprinkles) were yummy.
We did like at the Grand Hotel in Alkmaar
- Location: centrally based in Alkmaar, close to the cheese market and other attractions
- Building: majestic and grand (hey it's in the name of the hotel)
- Beds: soft and comfy
We didn't like at this hotel in Alkmaar
- Senseo coffee in the room (it's weak Dutch coffee). In a hotel like this you'd expect a Nespresso machine or great quality plunger coffee.
- Halogen lamps above the bathroom mirror. As the lamp are on in the room when you arrive, these lamp have heated up for quite some time, meaning a burn risk when you accidentally touch them (and trust us it does happen).
- No hand soap in the rooms (only available on request, but then it isn't delivered to the room)
Planning a trip to Alkmaar?
Have a look at the Grand Hotel deals and see the rates for your travel dates. The location is great (centrally), the hotel is good and the building is just amazing. Love the classic, old-school look.
Note: This blog post was posted between 2010 and 2015 when we were called DIY-OE. As we're still happy with the quality, it was published again on our new blog Travel.Geek.NZ.