Sleeping in the Former Domestic School

10 March 2023

What do hippies, a cookbook and a household school have to do with a hostel? Few Stayokay Amsterdam Vondelpark guests are aware of the property's rich history. High time for an interesting lesson in history.

The history of the Stayokay hostel in Amsterdam's Vondelpark traces several important socio-economic milestones in the 19th and 20th centuries. Hendrina Scholten-Commelin and damsel Jeltje de Bosch Kemper thought that (at the end of the 19th century) the oppression of women had to end. Most vocational schools focused mainly on men anyway, quickly steering women towards the kitchen sink, children and boredom. The two started the Amsterdam Household School in 1890 with the aim of "improving the popular education and expanding women's employment opportunities".

"Improvement of popular education"

The Amsterdam Household School aimed to: 'improve popular nutrition and expand the employment opportunities of women'. Graduates got jobs as cooking teachers or domestic help.

A building was moved into on Prinsengracht, but it soon burst at the seams and a larger location had to be found. It so happened that De Bosch Kemper lived on Zandpad, near the Vondelpark (number 6) and Scholten-Commelin's husband had a pied Ă  terre on Zandpad 2c. The wealthy Scholten bought a plot of land there for the Netherlands' first real Household School. Architect C.B. Posthumus Meyjes (1858-1927) made the design and on 1 May 1895 the Amsterdamsche Huishoudschool opened its doors.

Home Economics

Some of the subjects taught were sewing, cutting, nutrition, home economics and laundry treatment. Graduates got jobs as cooking teachers or domestic help. Besides full-time education, people could also take part-time courses at the school. For instance, aspiring cooks in the Marines were sent to Amsterdam to master the cooking trade before going out to sea. Later, Scholten also bought two properties in Roemer Visscherstraat (two-thirds of Stayokay's current 'C-building'). These housed the teachers and immediately created a practice area where the school's students could practice the home economics subject.

Hippies & Hells Angels

In 1969, the end was near for the Household School at Vondelpark. A second move was made and on 21 May 1970 Princess Beatrix opened the Amsterdam Scholen­gemeenschap 't Zandpad in Prinses Irenestraat. For another short period, the Hells Angels had the premises at Vondelpark as their clubhouse, but this too came to an end.

Amsterdam was under the spell of flower-power and hippies in those years. The number of 'wild sleepers' in Vondelpark rose to 85,000 in 1972. Measures are needed. The Stichting Nederlandse Jeugdherberg Centrale (NJHC) proposed converting the former Amsterdam Household School for Girls, on the Vondelpark, into a new youth hostel. In 1974, permission was granted to convert the national monument, along with two properties on Roemer Visscherstraat. In 2022, Stayokay Amsterdam Vondelpark is one of Stayokay's busiest establishments.


Cookbook of the Amsterdam Household School

Every major city in the Netherlands had its own housekeeping school in the late nineteenth, early twentieth century, and every self-respecting housekeeping school brought out its own cookbook... only Amsterdam's waited a while. This cookbook was only released in 1910 thanks to Miss Cornelia Johanna Wannée, an ambitious teacher at the Amsterdam Household School. The 380-page cookbook proved to be an instant success.

In years since the cookbook was published, it is still considered one of the best basic cookbooks ever. In 2010, the centenary of the book was celebrated with a completely revised edition and a festive unveiling of it in the old Amsterdam Household School.

Would you like to sleep in such a historic building?

We'd love to have you! We're open the whole year round, to discover this historic building and beautiful city.

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