Anyone who travels a lot can tell you a lot of times the hardest (and most expensive part) is figuring out *how* to get there and *where* to stay once you're there. As someone who has been traveling more in the past couple years and is hitting an all time personal high this year, I feel like I'm slowly learning how to search for the best deals without compromising quality. 

When I found out I was going to be in Amsterdam for 48 hours for an engagement session, I knew I needed something central to downtown (also the area my couple was staying) and since I wasn't going to be in town long, I didn't care too much about furnishings or how pretty it was as long as it was safe and budget friendly. The airbnbs in the area were okay, but another alternative I like to search for in big cities (especially ones that see lots of youthful travelers) are hostels. 

Hostels get a bad rep sometimes, but I've always had great experiences. One thing I search for in particular are hostels with private rooms where you have a door and a key and are by yourself. I am all about staying in shared rooms and friends of mine have had the best experiences doing so but when you're a photographer traveling with 6k worth of gear... you just don't want to risk anything! 

I really feel like a find like Cocomama is a rare gem! They describe themselves as a boutique hostel, so prices are a little higher than a normal private room (to compare, a private room at a hostel I stayed at in Portugal was $55 per night, this was I believe around $90 per night). The building Cocomama is in was a former brothel, and its got plenty of character. The location is ideal - its not quite in the city center but its a quick 8-min uber ride from it, and the area it is in is kind of the hip, younger side of the city (i'd compare it to east nashville).

They are all about their guests connecting and making friends from across the world - in their lobby there is a board where you can see whatever nightly/weekly activities are being hosted (including things like Red Light District tours) and their common area downstairs was just adorable, with things like a charging station, a fridge with snacks you can purchase by dropping a donation into their piggy bank, games  and a courtyard garden out back. They also provide some cool stuff like skateboards and bicycles if thats how you prefer to navigate the city.

I think what really snagged my attention was the check in process; the girl at the front desk welcomed me, was literally one of the friendliest people I've met, lugged my 80 pound suitcase up 3 flights of steps; then took me down to the common room where she showed me where everything was, went over a map of the local area and told me where I could find some yummy food and -- BRACE YOURSELVES -

poured me a glass of champagne.

I mean, what?? I've stayed at some much nicer corporate hotels who cannot even touch that experience. (just goes to show you how shopping local wherever you go will ALWAYS serve you well).

ohhhh AND -- they have a resident kitty.

Anyway I just snapped some simple photos while there because I loved my super-short stay so much and if I'm ever passing through Amsterdam, would totally stay there again.

Rachel Tenpenny