The best starting point for accommodation is to give the friendly Nederlands Reserverings Centrum (Tel: 0031/299 689 144) a call. However, if you arrive without anywhere to stay; head for one of the two VVV tourist offices in Centraal Station, where you'll be pointed in the right direction. Once inside Amsterdam's main rail terminus it's only a matter of time before you'll be jumped on by hotel touts regaling you with (often tall) tales of bargain beds. Some may be well-meaning, but it's best to give them a wide berth and instead join the queues at the nearby tourist office.
On the up-side Amsterdam's compactness means that, wherever you stay, you're never far from the action. Much of the city's budget accommodation is predictably found in the seedy Red Light District and the area surrounding Centraal Station, while the handsome Canal District and the Museum Quarter are prime hunting ground for top-end hotels.
Most Amsterdam hotels appear to have been built from Lilliputian blueprints, so don't be surprised if you have to shoehorn yourself into your room. Similarly rooms are often reached by narrow and twisting stairwells which can cause problems for anyone with mobility difficulties. What the average Amsterdam hotel lacks in size; it usually compensate for in style. The Dutch capital is home to some of the continent's favourite design hotels and even budget establishments are keen to get in on the act.
Accommodation options in Amsterdam include all the usual candidates, ranging from backpacker's hostels to the kind of luxury that would make Queen Beatrix feel at home. Nautical types might be interested to find out that memorable (if potentially damp) nights can be spent on the city's fleet of Dutch barges. Despite Amsterdam's shortage of accommodation it's still worth asking for a discount, especially if you are intending to stay for a few nights or are visiting during the low season.