Behind the hotel that is located in a monumental building lies an interesting history. The welcoming atmosphere upon entering probably never make you think that the building once functioned as a mental institution for children with all kinds of problems. Later, at the beginning of the 20th century, also disabled and incurably ill women found accommodation in the so-called St. Elizabeth mental institution.
Immediately after the outbreak of World War I, a number of Belgian refugees were offered shelter in the attic. During World War II, the obstetric department of the neighbouring hospital ‘Onze Lieve Vrouwe Gasthuis’ was placed in the mental institution after their residence had been occupied by the German Nazis. Nevertheless, the mental institution fell into the hands of the Nazi’s in 1944.
After the war the original inhabitants, who had been living temporarily near ‘Het Leidseplein’, returned to the mental institution. New views on society made it necessary to take on the elderly and poor. Strangely enough the prices for room and board weren’t adjusted since 1920. Starting in the fifties the financial problems of the institute were increasing and the residents of home Elisabeth finally had to leave the building in 1982. The last residents of the home were replaced by former ‘Dam- and Vondelpark Sleepers’. Here they could rent a mattress for a few dollars in the new establishment of the municipal Sleep-In.
The municipality no longer considered it desirable to take the Sleep-In for their account and changed their policy by providing a cafe-restaurant, a hall with a stage and a practice mode for young bands next to the opportunity of lodging. In 1992 the International Center for Youth, Culture and Tourism opened and was named Arena. At the end of the nineties, the name Arena changed into ‘Hotel Arena’ after winning a judicial case against the stadium Amsterdam ArenA. After an extensive renovation, Hotel Arena opened on 7 February 2002. Now, the Sint Elisabeth mental institution was definitively transformed into a full-service hospitality business with the facilities hotel, restaurant, bar and club.