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food / travel

No Kids Allowed: When Hotels Look For Select Clients

Do not disturb
Do not disturb
Bettina Seipp

BERLIN - The Tannhof, a wellness hotel in Germany’s Black Forest, is for adults only. So is the Ringhotel Dolce Vita in the Bavarian Forest.

According to the Adults-Only-Holidays website, there are five hotels in Germany where children are not welcome. There are five such establishments in Austria, the UK and Turkey; four each in France and Sweden; and one in Switzerland.

Whether you’re planning a trip to Florida, Australia, New Zealand or Fiji, you’ll have no trouble finding a hotel where you will not be disturbed by the patter of tiny feet.

And that is just the tip of the iceberg. For some time now, there has been a growing trend for hotels to target specific types of guests: singles, couples, swingers, gays, women travelling alone, you name it.

Germany’s leading leisure travel company, TUI, lists 60 “age-18-plus” hotels in its selection. And no, there is nothing in German law to prevent that. In effect, few if any German hotels have suffered for discriminating against a category of guests.

This is probably because hotels do not discriminate against influential groups. Imagine the backlash if senior citizens were banned from certain hotels, although that is unlikely to happen, as there are more seniors than younger people and they also have more buying power. That would be discriminating against solvent customers, especially when, as in Germany, 40% of all travel is booked by the over-50s.

Although that is much the same in The Netherlands, an Amsterdam chain called the Flying Pig Hostels has nevertheless set an age limit for its three establishments. Its website states, “To preserve and maintain our laid-back atmosphere we do not allow persons under 18 years of age or above 40.” That is just another way of saying that since older people ruin the atmosphere, they had better find somewhere else to stay.

Youth hostels for youth only

Germany has its own trendy hostels for young party people. We contacted some of the more popular establishments.

Six of the seven hostels had no age limits for older people, and some thought that would be "nonsense," in the words of Edgar Schmidt von Groeling, of Berlin’s Eastern Comfort Hostelboat. “Ahostel is a way of life. It is not about age. We gladly accept older guests if they want to stay here and are plugged into our vibe. We don’t see ourselves as ‘young and stylish’ but rather as ‘down to earth.’”

As Constance Bruns of Hamburg’s Superbude puts it, "If 70-year-old Aunt Erna says ‘Hey, that place looks terrific, I want to stay there,’ then she should definitely come. She sounds so cool we want to meet her.”

Sandra Nielsen of Frankfurt’s Five Elements Hostel says she has no age limits, but “we advise older guests that we have a lot of younger guests, so noise levels may be a little high.”

Andreas Taut of Labyrinth Hostel Weimar notes that "Our unusual design, young music, and a young team will probably be perceived as a deterrent” to stuffy older guests, while Elmar Nyhuis of Cologne’s Hostel Köln says, "In our experience, our older guests have money, but they chose to come here because there are young people-- a mixed public,” adding that the establishment actively welcomes guests “from under a year to 100 years old.”

Thomas Scheibner of Dresden’s Hostel Mondpalast says, “We like a colorful mix of guests, and that includes mixed age groups.”

Only Alfio Vockner of Munich’s Euro Youth Hotel said his establishment practiced a kind of very soft age limitation by reserving its dormitory beds for those 35 and under, but there were no age limits on their three- to five-bed rooms.

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