Welcome to our new member – A Room In The City
Interview with Anders Denne, Managing Director
Tell us your story. How did A Room In The City get started
A Room In The City is the largest hostel in the Basque Country, with approximately 220 beds. Among other services, we offer complete travel management for groups and support services.
A Room in the City started in July 2015, inside of the former Sisters of Mary Convent (4000 square meters) which dates back to 1905. The excellent location of the convent inspired us to make our project true, as it’s located in the heart of San Sebastian.
We also found its features very useful. This historic building has two entrances: one on Easo 20 Street and the other on Manterola 15 Street. Despite this division, the two areas of the hostel are connected between them from the inside.
When we were developing A Room in the City, we wanted to maintain this distinction to give the hostel a greater personality. Although the area of Easo Street has been reformed maintaining the atmosphere and appearance of the original convent, the Manterola Street area has become the ideal one for hosting groups. All its rooms are multiple and were designed by us and built by local carpenters, so we were able to endow them with all the comforts. The bunk beds in these rooms are designed for travelers of the 21st century: they include a USB connector, a lamp, a plug, curtains to guarantee guests’ privacy, a locker with an electronic bracelet…
In conclusion, A Room in the city started as an idea to receive groups and teach them San Sebastian’s and its environment’s customs from the very centre of the city while they are being hosted in a historic building that has been renovated to satisfy the needs of 21st century travelers.
What makes A Room In The City different from your competitors?
One of our greatest assets is our location, as we are just a few meters away from the famous beach of La Concha (the Best Beach in Europe and the sixth in the world according to TripAdvisor). Groups staying at A Room in the City will be able to get to know all the sights of the city without having to take any kind of transportation, as they will be just a few steps away from everything.
What’s more, A Room in the City is part of the Convent Garden project: San Sebastian’s cultural multispace par excellence. Located in the same building, Convent Garden is divided into 5 spaces where guests can have all kinds of experiences: A Room in the City itself, Patio (a terrace where they can eat something or have a drink), Cripta (a place where they can celebrate all kinds of activities: parties, performances…), Salón (a restaurant where we serve a dynamic proposal full of typical dishes with international touches), and Azotea (a rooftop where they can relax under the sky).
Finally, we are fortunate to have a great team with experience to rely on.
What is your favourite success story from your organisation?
Before A Room in the City started, San Sebastian’s downtown was a forbidding destination for all those groups who wanted to stay here without spending a fortune. Thanks to A Room in the City, we had the opportunity to change that situation and offer these travelers a quality and affordable accommodation in the centre. We are very happy to see that our project has been well received, because each year we exceed the number of groups we are hosting, making our family grow more and more.
What can we expect to see from A Room In The City in the future?
We aim to become the reference hostel for all those student and tourist groups that want to visit the Basque Country throughout the year. We organize all kinds of cultural events so that travelers can learn about the customs and traditions of our land (pintxo cooking classes, txalaparta shows, Cider House experiences…). Always acting in a sustainable way, taking care of our customer service, providing closeness through our reception team and making San Sebastian and the Basque culture known.
Which trends do you see in educational and active youth travel?
According to our experience and the conclusions we have drawn from analyzing the behavior of this type of traveler, the average stay of student groups in the Basque Country is 5 days and 4 nights. They are travelers who are always looking for local experiences (house cider experience, introduction to Basque and Basque culture, surfing…), and the aim of these groups of young people is none other than to live these traditional experiences and customs as authentically as possible. For this reason, near A Room in the City, groups can find all kinds of dynamic activities such as surfing, hiking, adventure sports, visiting Bilbao, Iparralde, Pamplona, La Rioja…
How do you work to ensure the health and safety of young travellers involved with A Room In The City?
We do our best to ensure that our guests have a pleasant and safe stay, as they are part of our big family. Our reception is open 24 / 7, so they can be attended to at any time and we have security staff during the night. In addition, the building is under video-surveillance and the windows have a security system so that they cannot be opened wide. Of course, we respect all the established regulations regarding hygiene and safety.
What was your motivation to join WYSE Travel Confederation?
Our main motivation is to be able to integrate and contribute, with our knowledge, to one of the biggest existing confederations, as well as to represent the Basque Country in this encounter. We want to be part of a community that can teach us a lot and help to highlight the Basque Country. Of course, we would love to meet more companies and agencies to work with as a team.
Have you attended a WYSE Travel Confederation event? (WYSTC, STAY WYSE, WYSE Exchange Australia, WETM-IAC) If so, what was your experience with the event?
We were lucky enough to attend two of the events celebrated in Amsterdam (2017 and 2018) and one in Berlin (2017). The experiences were excellent.
What is an industry challenge your organisation is facing currently?
One of our challenges is the seasonality of San Sebastian as a destination. This is due to the fact that Donostia is a city with a high demand and many travelers in summer and a low demand and few travelers in winter. But there’s a big opportunity: the winter. A great season, with fewer visitors in the city and very competitive prices.
Also, the lack of regulation for tourist apartments is an important issue affecting the tourism sector.
However, we are working to find a balance in order to accomplish the goals we have set for our future as well as to raise awareness of sustainability and the impact of responsible tourism that there should be in San Sebastian.
Stay at the very centre of San Sebastian, meet travellers & locals, share your experience, go surfing, enjoy the local food, get some sun at the beach, have some fun in the Old Town and come back to sleep in your great bed at the best accommodation in town for young spirits: A Room in the City.
Membership: WYSE Travel Confederation Associate Member
Join WYSE Travel Confederation
If you’d like to join WYSE Travel Confederation and benefit from new connections, free access to industry research, informative webinar sessions, discounts on industry events and brand exposure within the youth and student travel industry, click below to view our membership options and find out more.