The newly-renovated Nuremberg YHA is in the perfect position as a sightseeing base for backpackers — just watch out for the school groups.
Housed in the Imperial stables, you’re literally at the top of the city with views over all of the old town, and out across the suburbs to the west. You’re pretty much in the palace gardens, less than five minutes walk away from Dürer square, the churches of St Laurence and Our Lady, the market square, the historic Fembo museum, the old town hall, the toy museum, a great café and micro-brewery… and a whole bunch more.
The interior is modern with dark leather and wood effects alongside grey steel and black-and-white walls. From the reception desk at the entrance, you are in a large cafeteria which is nicely broken up into different areas and with tables ranging from little two-person affairs to bench seating for 4-6 people on each side.
We were staying in the tower adjunct, on the seventh floor. Up here there are mainly four-bed dorms, which can be hired as a private room like we had. Lower floors are wider and there are larger dorm configurations. It’s nice to see the YHA moving away from mass dorms and competing with the private hostel markets.
Each room comes with large lockers with their own keys: there’s room inside to hang clothes as well as several shelf spaces of different heights. The beds are either bunks or singles and have individual reading lights and shelves. Our room had a small table and chairs and a bathroom consisting of a large shower, separate toilet and sink/mirror set-ups (towel hire was an additional €3.50 cost for a set of two large towels and a hand-towel). Oh, and views like this:
The breakfast was an unlimited buffet of cereals, milk, yogurt with various canned fruits. Cold-cut meat, sliced cheese, and white rolls with butter were available, and a few brown-bread rolls were sporadically seen. Juice was from a sugary concentrate and coffee from a dispenser: it was fuel for the day but didn’t match the quality of the designer interior.
And it was well designed: the reception, cafeteria and rooms were all beautifully done. QR codes integrated into wall designs allowed for one-click access to historical information. Photo boards cycle through views of the city, and large-screen TVs can drop from one part of the ceiling for videos an sporting events — like the Germany vs Netherlands EUFA under-21s game I caught some people watching. The modern palette and organic shapes contrasted beautifully with the natural stone and red-tiled roof of the building’s exterior.
Being newly renovated (it re-opened in April and we visited in early June 2013) there were a few niggles: the wifi, while free, didn’t reach up to our room on the seventh floor. This made it a mission to get in, have a break, then make our way downstairs to do something simple like an email or timetable check. Especially when you forget to check for an opening time and have to go back down again and log in through the labyrinthine systems German hotels seem to favour.
This was made more difficult because there was only one lift and during our visit it was seemingly in constant use by large student groups going up or down one floor to meet friends. As the doors slid open one evening I was treated to the view of a gaggle of 14 year old girls in chocolate face masks who giggled off at the next floor.
Despite all the school groups and the noise that they will naturally generate in corridors, our room was next-to-silent. If we left the windows open we had a ton of bird-song and a little light traffic noise, but when they were shut there was only the muted sound of a door shutting every now and again — sound insulation was excellent and the air-con worked as a white-noise generator whether you wanted it to or not. Light insulation wasn’t so good: they hadn’t yet installed curtains but I’m told this will be remedied very soon.
A building that’s beautiful on the outside and the inside, great in-room amenities and an acceptable breakfast in a media-rich environment makes for a pleasant stay. And how often can you claim to have slept in an Imperial Palace (even if it is just the stables!)?
We stayed as guests of the Nuremberg Convention and Tourist Office.