Robert’s experiences in Hamburg

Did you know that as an employee of Hostelling International, you can live and work in other countries through HI ConnectLast December, Robert, the receptionist at our Sandnes Hostel, travelled to Hamburg, Germany, to learn more about the hostels there. Here you can read about his experience abroad:

My name is Robert, and I work part time as a receptionist in Sandnes, a city close to Stavanger. I was lucky enough to try out a staff exchange to Horner Rennbahn Jungendherberge in Hamburg, Germany.

I left a Sunday early December this year, and I was spending 5 days working at the hostel, and I even got a couple of days working at another hostel, “Auf dem Stintfang”, which is located smack right in the middle of Hamburg close to the Harbour, with a beautiful view.

My first day was working with Hanna in “Hausschicht” which is sort of a maintenance/conference/housekeeping division. We had to get all the conference rooms ready for the meetings coming in, and we had to bring all the dirty laundry in to baskets ready for pick up. Working in this division the first day gave me a nice tour around the hostel, and how the people worked in daily. The special things with the people working here is that they are “Bundesfreiwillingendienst” which is a year of volunteering, normally in state controlled sections, but also in hostels. So that is what Hanna did, and she lived at the hostel and got paid allowances.

Hanna and Robert

My second day was working in the reception with Nils and the booking department with Daniela. They are both located at the front desk and they have a really good teamwork together. The reception does as we do in Norway, handling phone calls, check ins/outs, checking housekeeping lists, and controlling the bar. While Daniela has contact with all the big reservations and the conference bookings. The fun part with Germany is that different from Norway they measure hostel size in beds, while in HI Sandnes, we measure in room count.

The third day was at the other hostel downtown. While Horner Rennbahn focused more on school groups and conferences, “Auf Dem Stintfang” was more of an international Hostel. They had more backpackers and tourists checking out Hamburg. This place was much busier and they were always two people working in the reception. This hostel was not very unlike how we work in Norway, except they had a whole new bedding concept where the rooms were designed like two different sections of the room. That way you could have some privacy even though you were staying with someone else.

At the “Rezeption” in Hamburg

My forth day was back at the “Auf dem Stintfang” only this time I was working upstairs in the main offices. Here they had the common booking offices for all the hostels in Germany. This is where the take phone calls for bookings, big groups, conferences, tours in the city and so on. They then put it in the systems of the hostel the booking came to, and they offer special prices including different city tours. I think the main part of me being there that day was to learn more about the city and the different tours they offer. It was really nice to see how they managed to include different tours to the booking. That way they earned more money, and the city got more tourists visiting.


My fifth and last day was more of a “do what you want” day I was originally staying in the reception back at Horner Rennbahn, but I went around the hostel doing different things just to check out the last things I haven’t seen. The day was really quiet with only 9 guests.

The kind of strange part about German hostels though is that in order to stay here they would have to sign up for their HI International membership, and if you didn’t sign up for the membership when booking the room, you suddenly got a much bigger tab when showing up at the hostel. For tourists they could pay an extra 3.5 Euros per night instead of signing up for the membership. The other thing they had to ask everyone was their age. This was because if you were older than 27 you had to pay an additional fee of 2.5 Euros per night.

That being said, I would like to thank HI Norway, and the Norwegian-German Willy Brandt foundation for making this possible for me. It’s been a great experience and I even got to practice my German.

Auf wiedersehen!



The vision of HI Connect, the staff and volunteers mobility programme facilitated by Hostelling International, is the following: To provide staff, volunteers and young people with a unique opportunity to experience life and work in another country; to enhance life skills and confidence; to engage within our sustainability mission; to embrace the culture and environment of the host country; to enhance their ability to learn another language; to create new friendships and promote mobility of people across international boundaries.

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photo top: Marcus Pink


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