Hamburg seems to always play second fiddle to Berlin. In terms of sheer size Hamburg falls just behind, and when it comes to population “Tor zur Welt” (The gateway to the world) has just half the population of the German Capital. Berlin, not Hamburg, also seems to be the first city that pops in to the minds of tourists too. They visit for the beautiful landmarks such as the Brandenburg Gate and Reichstag or the rich and turbulent history to be explored at the East Side Gallery and Checkpoint Charlie. They want to visit for the cool atmosphere that it exudes; the 24hr club scene, the street art and hipster hangouts. What most don’t realise is that Hamburg can match Berlin for coolness – and then some. Where Berlin has Neukolln and Friedrichshain, Hamburg has St. Pauli.
St Pauli is Known predominantly for its football team, FC Sankt Pauli, and the Reeperbahn – Hamburg’s most famous street and Europe’s most infamous red light district. However, it is so much more than this. Away from the main drag of sleazy clubs and rowdy bars is a neighbourhood that is cooler than anything you will find in the capital. It is hip in a less knowing, grittier way. Berlin is famous for being the short term home of artists like Bowie and Iggy but St. Pauli is where The Beatles learnt their trade, playing 10 hour sets night after night in the bars of the Reeperbahn. The music scene here carries on this tradition and is still very much alive. Live music can be found in the bars of the trendy, quirky area of Sternschanze – home to awesome coffee shops, a vibrant drinking scene and some of the best street art you will lay your eyes on.
On the edge of Sternschanze lies a hostel that embraces the spirit of St. Pauli: Superbude – a tall brick structure with its name spelled out in huge, bowling alley style lettering descending from its rooftop.
I was greeted with a big smile and a hearty “Moin”, the unique Hamburger greeting, as I entered. “You’re a little early for check in,” I was told “but let us take your bags and feel free to take a complimentary drink”. Feeling unburdened from my luggage I filled in all the appropriate forms and grabbed a coffee. You would be forgiven for thinking that this was more boutique hotel than hostel. The long reception room is the perfect match for St. Pauli’s hip persona; The furniture has been upcycled from items such as wheelbarrows and cable drums, metal down-lights hang over the long, communal tables and vintage rugs are scattered about the floor. This place is dripping with style. It is no wonder that Superbude has been showered with plaudits and awards for its design.
The furniture isn’t the only nod to Hamburg’s seafaring past – along the long yellow walls is a rope motif, spelling out ‘quiddje’, the word Hamburgers use to categorise the rest of the world’s population.
The nautical theme continued in my room, a large en-suite double on the top floor that afforded me a great view out over the Sternschanze rooftops. Tiny metal anchors hung from the walls to be used as coat hooks and he headboard was re-purposed from orange goal nets evoking the neighbourhood’s famous team. Reference to the city’s passion for music are scattered all around the hostel and the room is no different – the walls are papered with gig listings from the local newspaper. The bed was large and comfortable with some of the softest pillows your head will ever have the pleasure of hitting. As I have said before, this is more hotel than hostel.
In terms of amenities, everything I could have needed was there; two large boxes to be used as lockers, clothing rails and even a TV. However, it’s the small touches that really make a difference. The bathroom comes with towels and a hairdryer, two items that are usually missing from most hostel stays, and even a small ‘rescue package’ of items you may have forgotten to pack. The plug sockets are right next to the bed (a particular bugbear of mine because, as a blogger, I am always needing to have my phone or laptop charging as I type away under the duvet) and there’s even two USB sockets so it doesn’t matter if you have misplaced your adapter.
In addition to the private rooms, Superbude is also home to the Rockstar Suite – A room designed to sleep touring bands as they make their way around Germany. There is a huge bed large enough to comfortably sleep 6 people that can be converted into a stage, giving the bands a performance space and the hostel its own small venue. How awesome is that?
The Rockstar Suite isn’t the only venue in the Hostel, as Superbude often put on Sunday afternoon performances in the reception area for local bands.
Lets talk about breakfast. At €9 it seems a little steep, especially as I am fairly used to getting free breakfasts in many of the hostels I stay at. However, it is worth noting that in Hamburg it seems to be the done thing to charge for breakfast. Compared to the poor €6 breakfast I was subjected to at my previous hostel, €9 is a bargain. You see, Superbude has what it calls the ‘Kitchen Club’, a self service buffet in its beautiful dining area serving coffee around the clock and an amazing breakfast spread; waffles with Nutella, jams, spreads, cold cuts, muesli, and homemade bread – there is everything you could need to fuel you before a day of exploring the city.
The kitchen Club itself is a great place to hang out. One wall is lined with well stocked fridges and there is a reading corner for anyone who wants to relax with their beer or latte. Small cushioned nooks with desks and computers provide the perfect spot to sit and work or catch up with social media. Even late on an evening I found that it had a relaxing atmosphere, not the usual rowdy cacophony of a party hostel, with people just hanging out to chat or read – even a few locals wandered in for a quiet beer.
Above all else though, it is the staff that made Superbude memorable. I can never emphasise enough how friendly service will make or break a stay in a hostel. From the moment I walked through the door I was met with big smiles and people that would go the extra mile to make sure I had everything I needed. On my last morning I needed to be at the airport for 7.30am, giving me no time for breakfast, and was offered a box of food to take with me. This is a service you don’t see in most hostels.
All in all, I have to say, Superbude is one of the most remarkable hostels I have ever had the pleasure to stay at. The design, small touches and out of the box thinking made it not just a great place to sleep, but an experience. If you are looking for somewhere chic and cool in Hamburg, then I can’t recommend Superbude enough.
Double rooms start at €60 a night
Disclaimer: I accepted a complimentary stay at Superbude St. Pauli Courtesy of ‘Come to Hamburg’ but all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. If it seems like I am gushing over the Hostel, it’s because I LOVED it.
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