A few months ago while I was in Hamburg, I had the pleasure of staying at Superbude in St. Pauli* after finding them online and falling in love with both their hotel and concept. While there, I got a chance to sit down with Klaas Jeschke to talk about Superbude – Hotel >> Hostel >> Hamburg and their mentality when it comes to working in the hospitality industry. (Translated from German)
Be sure to read the interview below, and if you find yourself planning a trip to Hamburg, make sure to use the code “inhamburginlove” at check out to receive a 5€ discount per room per day!
LFB: Hey Klaas! Could you tell me a little bit about yourself and how you got started with Superbude?
Klaas: My name is Klaas Jeschke and I work as the sales marketing manager for the Superbude. At the moment we have two locations [both in Hamburg, one in St. Pauli and one in St. George] and I work for both. I studied business management with a focus on tourism and hotel management. I have worked in various hotels [prior to joinging Superbude] and have been with Superbude for the last three years. It is so much fun to work for Superbude because we have such a close knit team which I have been able to grow with. We have a really lovely hotel and it is extremely comfortable to work here.
LFB: Could you also tell us a little bit about the Superbude in and of itself and how it came to be?
Klaas: Superbude is a combination of a hotel and a hostel – which is also illustrated in the name. Superbude is an attempt to combine the best aspects of both hotels and hostels. As you can see in the lobby, it is an extremely open space. It is a relaxed sapce where people can feel free to do what they want. We try to combine these positive aspects of hostel culture and combine it with the amenities of a hotel – from good beds to daily house keeping, to TV, Wi-Fi, etc.
For us we do not create a distinction between hotel rooms or hostel beds when it comes to the services we provide. The rooms are exactly the same for those who stay in a room with 2-6 beds and for those who book a private hotel room. Clients have the ability to rent a single bed like in a hostel, or a private hotel room. But from the standard and design, we aim to create the feeling of a small boutique hotel. We have tried very hard to create a designed space that still has a flair of individuality to it. We really try hard to create an individual flair here that sets us apart from other hotels and hostels.
LFB: It seems to me that these days there are so many people in their late twenties and early thirties are very keen to travel all over the world but might not have a ton of cash flow. They want to have the feeling and price of a hostel but still want to stay some place more mature and not in a typical hostel for teenagers. Did this aspect and the change in attitudes towards travel play a role in the concept behind Superbude?
Klaas: Absolutely. Design oriented budget hotels is something that is very popular at the moment in the hotel industry and many hotel chains are working on hotels in this vein. I think it’s something like “hostel life 2.0.” There are many people who already traveled the world and experienced hostels and loved this form of travel who would love to stay at a place like Superbude as they still get this kind of atmosphere but do not have to skimp on comfort while maintaining this kind of travel lifestyle. I think that this is why this combination of hotel and hostel is so valuable.
LFB: Definitely. If I were 40 and staying in a hostel it would be a bit odd, especially for American standards. But when you can stay in a place that has the flair and lifestyle of a hostel but is still appropriate for someone who is leading a more “adult” (for lack of a better word) lifestyle, then I think that is a fabulous thing.
Klaas: Absolutely! This is something that a lot of our customers appreciate. We have a lot of businesspeople staying with us week after week and they speak very highly of this concept, as they say it is refreshing in comparison to typical chain hotels which oftentimes lack character and where you are always greeted as if it were the first time staying there. Here at Superbude, we have fulltime staff that know our repeat guests and our regulars then get a bit of a “group feel” and feel more as if they are coming home when they stay with us. This really sets us apart from these chains where one feels very anonymous.
LFB: I would love to actually touch upon these traditional hotels. We talked briefly about the changing face of travel and I would love to hear why it is so important for Superbude to stay on the smaller side and to not become a giant chain. I am interested to hear how smaller independent hotel brands are ale to be more intimate, local, and focus more closely on the environment – for example, I see that you guys carry local products from Hamburg artists as well as eco-friendly items like toothbrushes. It is so lovely to be able to support local and this is something I think large chains fall short at being able to accomplish.
Klaas: Exactly. In principle, our hotels are individual hotels. Our owner does own a few more hotels (like 25 hours). The philosophy behind us and 25 hours is that each hotel is different and unique. The first and second Superbude have unique interiors and we are currently working on building a third hotel in Hamburg that will also look different inside than the other two locations. What of course is streamlined across all locations are specific standards which [customers can rely on] – for example extremely quick internet and daily house keeping.
However for us when it comes to the look of the hotel we really work hard to try to create a place that fits with the environment and location in which it is located. We try to really have a look in our neighbourhood and look into what kind of partnerships are available. We also look into what kind of clubs, entertainment locations, and local artists are in the neighborhoods. This is what gives us such a good reputation – we really try very hard to support the local community – we offer free concerts for example as well that are also visited by locals.
LFB: This is something I find so cool. When one stays at a giant chain, once you enter through the doors of the hotel, you could be anywhere in the world as they all look the same inside and seem to be detached from the culture and location outside their 4 walls. But here, like you said, it is in the middle of an extremely hip neighborhood, and one immediately feels as if one is in the middle of everything. How were the locations chosen for Superbude?
Klaas: I would quickly like to return to another point you mentioned – I find what really makes us unique and what people talk about when they talk about their stay with us to friends is that they feel that when they come to us they have an emotional relationship to our locations, that they when they come here it is familiar and they are coming home. Concerning locations – we are only in Hamburg but with time we do hope create other locations.
We try to find places that are located in good places – our other current location is very centrally located for example and very close to the harbor. In this location, we get more families. Here, in Schanzenviertel as it is quite a trendy and alternative location, we thought this location would be perfect for our type of customers. We are central but also trendy and alternative. For us it must be a location that is cool and that fits with our philosophy but also central and easy to reach, as naturally when one travels one wants to also visit the standard tourist sites as well and these must be within reach.
LFB: Totally. I find extremely cool that Superbude is a hotel that fits in a place like Schanzenviertel. As you were saying, this area is trendy and also relatively leftist [politically]. A place like Hyatt or another big chain would really not fit here and would actually take away from the individuality and authenticity of the neighbourhoods. I also get the feeling that the kind of people who stay here would be the kind of people who would live in this neighbourhood, were they to be from Hamburg so it all feels very natural and authentic.
I would also like to touch upon the actual clientele here at Superbude. I was actually pretty surprised to see so many families and older couples as well. I had thought that it would be mainly full of 20something to 30 something digital nomad types. Did you guys think from the onset that you would have such a wide reach in terms of your customer base or where you both also surprised?
Klaas: The concept is now 8 years – although our first location has had a complete re-launch for it’s 8th birthday. Here in St. Pauli, this location is 4 years old. As the first location was built, there was a lot more emphasis placed on the hostel aspect. The target audience was actually between 16-25 – exactly like what one would expect in a traditional hostel or Jugendherberge. We soon found out that the people who were coming to us were actually a bit older. The main target group is actually 25-40.
Of course we have people who fit exactly in this target group who are also interested in the kind of lifestyle and culture that you find here in St. Pauli but naturally we also have people who fall out of this category as well as we have an extremely good reputation management have and have found us via other sites after reading positive reviews. For us we are happy to receive both kinds of clients – everyone is welcome here and we love the mix.
Naturally on the weekend we often get younger people. It also makes sense the get families as many of these people are the exact types who were staying in hostels and travelling all over the world in their 20s and have now started families and are looking for that Hostel 2.0 feeling. For us it is an extreme compliment that those with kids feel comfortable here!
LFB: I would love to talk about the environmental factors when it comes to working in the hospitality business as this is an extremely important topic for me and for LFB. I would love to know how you guys have chosen the products you use as well as how everything is managed when it comes to electricity and such. Is the environment very important for Superbude?
Klaas: It is for us an extremely important topic and within the parameters of working in the hospitality industry, we do all that we can. We have a QUB certificate [read more about it here] and work with an official who supervises and tells us what we need to do and what we need to watch out for – for example: where we can work on saving water and electricity, using proper lighting, etc. For us, we also try to make sure that the products we buy and use here have limited amount of packaging material.
We also try to only sell environmentally friendly and well made products. Right now we are at a turning point and we need to understand that thing are not endless. If we as humans do not grasp this concept, then in a few generations things will be very difficult. For this reason it is an extremely important topic for us in the hotel industry. We also try to be a role model for our guests and to make it clear that we need to think with and for the environment.
LFB: Thank you so much for sitting down with LFB today! In closing, I would love to know what the best part about working here for you is?
Klaas: Definitely the team I work with – I work with wonderful people and the relationship between our guests and employees is such a positive one because everyone can be who they want here. Employees are not limited to a uniform and at the reception, the tips given are personal opinions of our employees and not just tips from some pre-fabricated list. This authenticity is a motivating environment to work in and what gives us all so much enjoyment!
Don’t forget to book a room at Superbude use the code “inhamburginlove” at check out to receive a 5€ discount per room per day if you find yourself planning a trip to Hamburg!
*Thank you so much to Suberbude and their wonderful staff for covering my to stay! Please visit the disclosure to read more. (I was not paid for this review)
Image Credits: Rae Tashman
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