The Bremen youth hostel could hardly be more central. Directly on the Weser, at the lower end of the Schlachte, it is a port of call for over 20,000 overnight guests every year. Since 2005, the yellow cube-shaped extension has been a landmark for travellers on and next to the river. I went to visit the hostel and once more discovered a place in this Hanseatic city which I can also recommend to locals.
On a beautiful, sunny morning in January, I head for the youth hostel on the Weser. Once I reach it, I can hardly tear my photographic enthusiasm away from the contrast between the bright blue sky and the yellow cube of the building. Since 2005, this cube construction has been a distinctive building on the Weser. The original building in brick dates back to the 1950s and was designed by Carsten Schröck.
In the generous entrance area, I meet Berna Demiroglu and Gesa Hauschild. We sit down at one of the small tables opposite the reception desk. Mrs Demiroglu has been the manager of the youth hostel in Bremen since last year. Ms Hauschild works in the marketing and social media department of the Landesverband Unterweser-Ems, which unites a total of 27 houses and has its headquarters here in Bremen (in the Neustadt area). At the moment there is a lot of preparation going on because the German youth hostel association is celebrating its 111th birthday with many offers and programmes.
Much more than a hotel
Before taking a walk through the building, I talk to the two women about the unique aspects of this kind of youth hostel. ‘We are not just about simple overnight accommodation’, stresses Mrs Demiroglu. ‘With us, the emphasis is particularly on the community.’ Mrs Hauschild also confirms that a youth hostel always also functions as a meeting and learning location. Therefore, many school groups are regular guests, along with other youth and adult groups. Different programmes can also be booked for everyone – from city tours to day trips.
While talking in the lobby of the hostel, I really do perceive a more personal atmosphere around us than I have experienced in other types of accommodation. At the table next to us sits a family of three who seem to be planning their day, leafing through travel guides. Every now and again, I get snatches of foreign languages from the passing groups. But some seem to be locals, they move with a certain degree of self-confidence to the stairs to the first floor. ‘We offer an open lunch in our canteens’, explains the director of the hostel. ‘So many of the staff from local companies also come here to eat at lunchtime.’
Well looked after all round
A few moments later, I also stand with Mrs Hauschild and Mrs Demiroglu at the entrance of the long dining hall on the 1st floor. The room runs alongside the Weser and is flooded with sunshine on a winter day like today. There is a warm, relaxed atmosphere.
I find out that the menu changes daily and also offers vegetarian alternatives, sometimes even vegan. Today there are Enchiladas. When I see them, my mouth immediately starts watering. I am kindly invited directly to eat, and I sit with my two companions at one of the tables at the back. In the morning, breakfast is offered for the overnight guests at the hostel, in the evening guests can even eat here too, after prior booking. In addition, there are small snacks and drinks at the reception desk.
The cherry on the cake is on the top
After eating, we visit another key part of the facility. The roof terrace, which is also located on the south side of the building, is basking in glorious sunshine. This is the ideal place to top up your tan, even in the chilly winter weather. I can imagine the terrace is a real hotspot in the summer. There are even a couple of really good grills available for barbecue evenings. With the view across the river, even as a local, I get a brief feeling of being on holiday in my own country.
Inside the cube
After the extensive visit to the roof terrace, which also allows the architectural elements of the building to be viewed perfectly, we take a look at the interior of the yellow cube. There are some seminar and communal rooms with TV and all the equipment downstairs. I find out from my companions that all the seminar rooms can also be rented by external organisations – including the large room below the dining room.
There are numerous bedrooms of different sizes on the upper floors of the cube. In total, the youth hostel has 56 rooms with a total of 216 beds. I’m allowed to peek into a very small room with a double bed and a beautiful view of the water, and a room with six beds in three bunks. Finally, Mrs Demiroglu also shows me a room which is well suited for families, because the bunk bed can be folded out at the bottom and it, therefore, offers room for three people. All rooms are flooded with light, the robust and practical furnishings are, nevertheless, welcoming, with lots of wood, and there are floor level windows which give a view towards the Weser and the city centre. What’s more, each room has its own bathroom with toilet and shower. As a guest I would definitely feel totally at home here :) Cycle tourists are also welcomed and can place their iron steeds in the special basement provided. For them and for backpackers, it is of course very handy that they don’t have to bring their own bed linen and towels, because they are provided by the hostel.
On the water
A special highlight is waiting for us on the river bank. In 2008, the youth hostel took over the replica paddle-steamer ‘Die Weser’ which is based on the original from 1817 (but without the drive). The youth hostel soon turned the ship into a guest ship with an additional 30 beds. I was always really curious about the way it looks inside, and now I am very pleased to have found out. After entering the hull via a wooden stairway, on the left, I discover the cabins are just as I had imagined them myself. Small, narrow and not very high, there is not much space in a ship. But then I turn to the right and am amazed. The room which extends in front of me offers space for more than a whole football team. I start to imagine the fun and cosy atmosphere which there would be with a whole school class staying here. In particular, it looks a lot bigger on the inside than you would think from outside.
On deck, everything has already been cleared away for the upcoming inspection at the yard. But in the summer, guests can also get comfortable here.
We return to dry land and say goodbye. I walk back along the Schlachte. Cafés, restaurants, pubs – all are close to hand. Behind it is the city centre with all its shopping opportunities, but also with the historical city centre around the Dom, the cathedral. The Schnoor district is also not far away. If I was visiting this city, I would also stay at the youth hostel.