Craving Something Local?

If you’re reading this, you probably like to experience a somewhat authentic slice of local life whenever you travel somewhere new. After all, you’ve found this blog, which has never exactly celebrated the Hard Rock Cafes and big bus tours of the world (not judging.).

And while the desire to live like a local is a common thread among many travelers, the execution can sometimes be a bit tricky. My first holiday in Lisbon was spent in a generic, money-making Airbnb that had about as much style and authenticity as a knockoff snuggie. I wasn’t living like a local. I was living like an outsmarted tourist and sleeping on an IKEA futon. And not the nice one.

So when I was planning a trip to revisit my favorite German city to wander the Christmas markets, I was determined not to be duped in Deutschland. No sir! When I laid the framework for my trip to Hamburg, I set out to find another way to “live like a local.” And what I found is the beauty of small, family-run hotels.

Enter My Place, a mother-daughter run hotel in Hamburg’s hip Sternschanze neighborhood catering to travelers looking for an Airbnb alternative.

When I first walked into the Michel room (named after Hamburg’s famed St. Michael’s church) I knew I had found my new Hamburg place. Complete with an expertly-designed micro kitchen, this suite has everything you need to feel at home, including a spacious terrace for those five days a year when Hamburg is warm and sunny 😉

And while I could take an entire blog post to write about the forest green velvet sitting chair, and the fluffy, inviting bedding that I snuggled into like a Chipotle burrito, I think there’s something bigger happening at My Place. Where did I look forward to retreating when my fingers started to lose their feeling among the Christmas market stalls? My Place. Where did I settle in to have a morning coffee and breakfast, while discussing Hamburg’s charms with Julia, the hotel’s co-owner? My Place. And where did I relish the coziness of my suite so much, that I decided to host a dinner party in what would normally be known as a hotel room? My Place.

There’s magic in the roots and authenticity of a place, and I’ve come to find that family-run hotels are in a league of their own in this category.

As Julia casually pointed out to me, My Place was started by her mother Ingrid (who just returned from her own travels in Bhutan) and the small staff of 10 is 90% women. As a writer who lends my skills to female entrepreneurs, this stat resonated within me. When I shop, I try and support the brands I believe in. So when I travel why wouldn’t I support the people I believe in? I guess the short answer is that I haven’t found the best way as to how to do that. But staying at local, female-driven hotels like My Place is a start. Because just as you establish relationships and connections with the people and businesses you support in your own town, you can plant these seeds abroad as well.

Nothing felt sweeter than having the ladies of My Place wish me luck as I left my new nook in Sternschanze for a potential client interview in Hamburg. And in case that wasn’t enough, when I was whipping up a chickpea stew with a few German friends (thanks to the sweet suite kitchen) and realized we were lacking a pat of butter, I hopped downstairs and was promptly handed some grass-fed goodness from my neighbor… I mean, the front desk. This feeling of community flourished within approximately 60 minutes of my being at My Place, and man-oh-man did it feel special.

Who wouldn’t want to stay in a place like this?

No matter where you go, there’s no better feeling than staying somewhere that feels like home. And home can mean many different things to many different people. But to me, it’s something cozy, welcoming, and a peaceful haven to return to at the end of a long day. And in Hamburg, I found all of this, plus a pat of butter, in My Place.

So wherever you’re off to next, scan through a few different accommodation choices, read their stories, and see what aligns most with your version of home. And maybe, just maybe, you’ll find that your place is…

My Place

*I was generously hosted by Julia, Ingrid, and the rest of the My Place team for this stay, but the warm fuzzy feelings expressed above are completely my own.