We descended into Hamburg, Germany for the second time in two years for the travel conference Keyframe. We decided not to stay at Superbude in St Pauli despite our previous fantastic stay, and instead experience (and review) another alternative in the city – The Generator Hostel.
Both my solo first hostel experience and our first experience staying in a hostel as a couple was at The Generator Hostel in Dublin, Ireland. No review of there yet sadly, this was pre Inside Our Suitcase. There’s something reassuring about staying with a brand of hostels, it’s like eating at McDonald’s or ordering a Starbucks – to an extent we expect to know what we’re getting regardless of where in the world we might be.
There are two sides to the location of The Generator Hostel in Hamburg. The first is the actual physical location. It’s across the road from the main bus depot which will see both international and internal buses frequently arrive. Meanwhile, it’s around the corner (200m) from the central train station.
This provides you with internal metro trains around Hamburg every couple of minutes, internal trains within Germany as well as international trains across Europe. Of course, being in such a central hub means there’s a lot of choices when it comes to budget and luxury food and drink with at least somewhere open no matter what the time.
Then there’s the people, appearance and the overall state of this location. It’s known as one of the most unsafe areas of Hamburg with gangs, beggars, homeless on the street at any given hour. As I wrote this I looked up from my desk on the second tier of the ‘hub’ of the hostel on the ground floor and saw a man peeing onto an electrical box over the road – I wish I was kidding…
You only need to look slightly right from my location towards the bus station to see a large political/homeless tent. This area was the same when we visited back in 2018 and remained the same throughout our seven-night stay at The Generator, so it’s certainly not a ‘one off’.
We experienced very little discomfort during our time in and around The Generator Hostel in Hamburg. However, we had solo female friends who were also staying here and didn’t feel the same. Instead, we always travelled back together from any bars/clubs on an evening.
We arrived in Hamburg at around 10am after an early 6.35am flight out of Manchester airport. We’d been up since 1am in order to get our flight (well, we’d actually not slept since the night before). Tired, we hoped that we’d be allowed to check in early, this wasn’t the case instead we were told we’d need to wait until the official check-in time of 2pm.
This wasn’t a problem, despite the empty rooms we were well aware they had, it was stated during the booking that this was the check-in time.
Helen and I sat working in the lobby area until I noticed people with suitcases passing us heading towards the dorms at around 1pm. We went back to inquire and was permitted to check-in without a problem. Although, despite booking and travelling together we were allocated beds at the opposite side of the 8-bed dorm we’d booked. I was on the lower bunk on the left-hand side of the room, Helen was on the top bunk, three bunk beds over. Again, giving the availability of the dorms we were well aware they had (and the fact our dorm was empty upon arrival) this didn’t make much sense.
8 Bed Dorm Room
We stayed in the cheapest option at The Generator Hostel in Hamburg, an eight-bed dorm. We booked on The Generator website for the best rate guaranteed and paid an average of just €13.28 per person, per night.
The beds are made up of bunk beds, each with a lockable draw on wheels under the bottom bunk. To make this secure you’re going to want a padlock.
Each bed comes with a personal light, two USB plugs and a European plug. Don’t forget your European adaptor. This is perfect for charging your mobile phone, camera, laptop and all your other essentials.
The beds are pretty comfortable – at least as far as hostel beds go. Although the temperature regulation left me waking up sweating on a few occasions.
Inside the eight bed dorm, you’ll find one toilet and one shower. These are very small, smaller than EasyHotel (which says something!). If you’re in a mixed dorm then these will also be shared between male and female guests.
Alternatively, there’s one enclosed shower and toilet room for females and one for males on each floor. This is much more spacious and where both Helen and I chose to shower during our stay.
Soap, towels etc. are not included as part of your stay at the hostel. However, towels can be rented for €3 each and soap, shampoo etc can be purchased from reception among other hostel essentials.
The entrance door, door to the rooms and then the rooms themselves each have security fobs on that you’ll be required to unlock with a card you’re given upon arrival.
Bouncers are on the entrance door from 7.30pm until the early hours of the morning.
Finally, when there’s an issue in the room as there was during our stay (let’s just say Hostel Etiquette 101 was broken… and broken again… and despite earplugs, headphones and an eye mask, broken some more…) the staff are really prompt about resolving the issue. Which I’m very grateful for considering just how tired I was after a couple of listening to the said scenario at 3am.
Late check-out is available to pre-book online during the booking process or during your stay. The usual check out time is 10am however, you can extend this to 1pm for €3 per person in a dorm or €10 in a private room.
Free basic WIFI is available on all floors of the hostel. We experienced no downtime or issues despite being on floor 5.
However, if the speeds of the free WIFI aren’t for you then you can pay an additional €4 per day for premium WIFI. This wasn’t something we required as we didn’t feel limited by the free service.
In our opinion, there’s one huge glaring problem when staying at The Generator Hostel and that’s the restriction on outside food and drink. The Generator Hostel in Hamburg does not permit drinks and food from outside the premises to be brought in.
This means, no kitchen.
This also means that if you want to eat in the hostel, you’ll be eating what the hostel serves at the prices they serve it.
I can not understate enough what a disappointment this is for so many budget travellers. Especially considering what limited menu the hostel actually has. In fact, if you want to eat from 12-midday until 5pm when the Helter Skelter Bar opens then you’ll only have a choice of three personal pizzas at €3.90 each. Yes, that pizza really is as small as you think…
After 5pm you can get a more extensive menu from within The Helter Skelter bar. Although, this is a bar and it can get pretty loud and rowdy after around 8pm – perhaps not the dining experience you might have had in mind.
Side Note: We did notice others bringing outside food in discretely, and we did so ourselves without issue. However, please proceed with caution. This is against the rules of the hostel.
Generator Friends Discount
A discount of 20% is offered on food and drink for those who download the Generator Friends mobile application available on both iOS and Android.
A breakfast buffet is available at The Generator Hostel in Hamburg for an additional cost of €5.00 per person. However, given the location of the hostel, you can get a pastry and a coffee pretty much anywhere in the area for less. Therefore we skipped this during our visit.
On the upper tier of the ground floor (above the Helter Skelter Bar), you’ll find the small laundry room consisting of two washing machines and two tumble driers. It costs €6 for one load including the laundry soap and use of both the washing machine and the drier.
Bike & Skateboard Rental
You can rent both bikes and skateboards to explore the city from reception.
Bikes are available for 4 hours (€8) or 24 hours (€12) and skateboards are available for 24 hours (€7.50)
Alternatively, you can pick up a Hamburg Card from reception for free travel around Hamburg. Check out our guide to one day in Hamburg to learn more about the benefits of a Hamburg card.
Luggage storage is available on-site in the form of lockers. There’s around 100 both small and large on the ground floor to the right-hand side of reception.
The place is clean and well accommodating. The price is fantastic and the location in principle is great. However, there’s just something missing when it comes to The Generator Hostel in Hamburg and I can’t quite put my finger on what it is.
Let’s just say I’ve certainly not fallen in love with the hostel, so on future visits to Hamburg, I’d probably look at the other places we’ve listed to stay in Hamburg and stay there instead.
The lack of a kitchen (or maybe just the ability to eat any form of food) is such a large percentage of services it really hits this place hard. I’d consider staying elsewhere if you’re planning on saving money by staying here because I just don’t think it’s all that possible.