Finding the Hidden Discounts
The Netherlands is an incredibly expensive destination and accommodation is no exception. Particularly in the more touristy areas, cities, and during peak season you can expect to pay at least 25 euros per person for even the most budget places. If you're traveling to a popular destination though, there is no shortage of places to stay. In the more rural and less touristy areas you will struggle a little more to find a hotel that meets your needs and accommodation can be a little more scarce.
There are a range of accommodation types throughout the country though and you can find pretty much anything from a hotel to a bed and breakfast to an apartment for rent. If you're traveling during the peak season though, do book well in advance as the options and prices will definitely be better.
Reserving in Advance
Prices are quite high in the Netherlands, so you'll likely want to find some tricks to save costs. Like elsewhere in Europe, traveling in the off season can save you a good amount of money as rooms will be in less demand. This is a country where you'll also want to book well in advance when you are likely to get the best deal. There are hostels sprinkled throughout the country, but many don't come equipped with a kitchen. If you're traveling with a companion you will likely pay the same for a private room that you would pay for two beds in a dorm. A private room is usually more comfortable as well. It is possible in some places to get a shared bathroom which will save you some money. Also consider staying at either a short term apartment rental or a bed and breakfast, both of which are usually cheaper than a traditional hotel. Amsterdam is easily the most expensive city in the Netherlands, so if budget is that important to you, spend less time in Amsterdam and head to the surrounding countryside to save yourself some money.
An Abundance of Options
There are many different types of accommodation in the Netherlands. Particularly in Amsterdam you will find the widest range of options. In the larger cities you can find anything from hostels to budget hotels to four star hotels. There are also bed and breakfasts or short term apartment rentals. Alternatively, if you're creative, you can likely find a room in a private residence. Many people rent out rooms to help meet costs and this can be a fun and creative way to experience the county and save some money.
There is an official Dutch Youth Hostel organization called "Stay Okay." While not as widespread as you might expect, they are a descent option. They usually do not come equipped with a kitchen however. Not all hostels are affiliated with this organization, so you can find a range of privately owned hostels of variable quality, many of which are quite good.
Undeniably, the most popular and famous city to visit in the Netherlands is Amsterdam. It's popular for it's history, its liberal culture, and its beautiful canals which crisscross through the entire city. It's probably one of the most popular destinations in Europe and for this reason it is also one of the most expensive options. Accommodation is diverse, but it's not particularly cheap. If you book well in advance you'll likely find the best deals. Many of the hostels in the city are also targeted at a young crowd who come to the city to party. If that's not your style, your better option is to find a one or two star hotel where you can have some privacy without breaking the bank.
Houseboats are also a very popular option in Amsterdam. They can be surprisingly affordable, particularly if you plan ahead. Do some research and you'll find a great, personalized boat that will give you a unique experience that you can't have anywhere else in the world. You can usually make reservations on a houseboat the same way you'd book a room in a hotel. They are often listed on most of the popular booking engines. You may also find some good options listed on websites like Craigslist.org. Booking directly with the owners of the boat can be a little risky, but if you're willing to take the risk then it will likely save you a good amount of money.
Many of the youth hostels are concentrated in one or two neighborhoods right around Dam Square and the Red Light district. If you look a little further outside of this neighborhood you'll find some interesting options that might appeal to a wider crowd. If you do choose to stay at a youth hostel make sure it offers all of the amenities you desire. These might include a shared kitchen, smaller dorm rooms, and a decent sized common space. Also make sure you understand everything that is included in the price. Some places might charge extra for things such as linens, towels, or breakfast. If you wish any of these things to be included, you must confirm in advance.
Also make sure you completely understand the price of your booking. Many places will tack on a tax that you won't pay until you arrive. Confirm in advance exactly how much you will own upon arrival so that there aren't any unexpected surprises when you check in or check out. While you will have to pay the tax wherever you stay, some places build it in to the price while others leave it to be paid at a later time.
Most of the neighborhoods are well connected by public transportation so, while location is still very important, as long as you're in the city center you won't have to work hard to get to most of the tourist attractions. Staying slightly outside of the middle of town might be a good option to keep costs in check. If you're willing to walk or rent a bicycle this can even be a fun way to explore the city the way the locals do. Trams are efficient but can get expensive so if you think you'll end up taking it tram a lot, it's usually worth staying closer in to town.
It's unlikely that you will find a particularly affordable place to stay in Amsterdam, but if you do some research and plan ahead you might be able to cut down on costs a decent amount. Make sure you understand exactly what you're looking for and go from there.