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January 11, 2016

Welcome back Niek


Volkshotel has a rich past that deserves to be recognised. For 42 years, this building was home to De Volkskrant – one of the biggest, most progressive Dutch newspapers. Over the years, thousands of people worked here. We would like you to meet one of them: Niek (92) worked as a book keep from 1965 till 1984. We decided to invite him for a sleepover and a small interview: “The building still has got the exact same feeling. I like it a lot.”

The first time our receptionist Sabina met Niek, he was accompanied by his daughter, showing her his old work space. While wandering around the hotel, she asked him what he had been doing after leaving the company in 1984, he replied short and simple: “Retiring, what else?”. This short encounter made Sabina laugh, but also curious about the stories he had about this building. So we invited him for a sleepover and an interview. 


When Niek came back for his stay with us, he admitted that he was a bit nervous about being around all the lively people. But it didn’t take very long before he started to enjoy the things happening around him. “It has become a very special place, just all the “noise” of the lobby makes it hard for me to hear everything with my hearing aids.”


Niek’s office was on the corner of the 4th floor (what we now call room 425). From here, he could look out on the neighbourhood, which slowly changed throughout the years. Squatters occupying empty buildings, the construction of the metro system and the endless demonstrations against it… Niek has seen it all. 


And now, over 30 years after his retirement he returned to his beloved building. Niek: “The old hallways and the staircase haven’t change a bit. The rest looks so different than it used to, but it still has the exact same feeling, I like it a lot.”

Volkshotel is a place with a memory. Where everyone who goes will remain a little. Welcome back Niek.


Black & white photos © by Frank G. Rat
Other photos © Mieke Blekemolen

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