Down to earth, “hygge” and just like home (or better): LULU Guldsmeden near Potsdamer Platz in Berlin ticks those boxes. The hotel is one of those rare places where you really feel welcome, where people care and will be happy to give you that little extra which can be so important – like hot water with fresh ginger, lemon and honey to help you fight that cold. Caring, of course, is part of the Guldsmeden philosophy and LULU is as modern (albeit in an old building) as it is sustainable. But how do they do it?
Marc Lorenz, the hotel’s manager, tells us why sustainability is so important for the Guldsmeden family and how the hotel has become a favourite among “hygge-seeking”, discerning Berlin visitors.
Marc, you are the manager of Lulu Guldsmeden in Berlin since May 2017 but have worked in hospitality for many years before. Did you always want to work in tourism? What brought you to leading the team at Lulu?
Yes, I had made up my mind when I was 17 and then studied hospitality management in Melbourne. For 22 years I travelled the world, mainly in positions with Hyatt, and finally returned to Berlin in 2016.
I have a passion for this industry and always wanted to have my own hotel, after the international career with Hyatt. I was looking for the right property in Berlin and stumbled across Guldsmeden. We found each other, and I found out that we have many things in common. So we decided to team up.
The Guldsmeden hotels have become quite popular among city travellers looking for that “home away from home”. To your mind, what makes Lulu and the other Guldsmeden hotels stand out from other city accommodation?
I believe that the Danish word ‘’hygge’’ really describes the style and feeling of our hotels very well. They are very relaxed, down to earth, very warm and welcoming and you feel more like you come into your own living room than coming to a hotel.
Fortunately (and also unfortunately, if exploited) the now all of the sudden trend word ‘’Hygge’’ has been used a lot the last months and received a lot of attention by the media. This was positive for us, as we really fitted well into what was expected of a ‘’hygge’’ lifestyle and feeling.
Can you tell us a bit about the hotel company’s history – when was it founded and how has it changed or evolved since then?
Like a very typical “Berliner Altbau” the building was a residential building from the 1850s until the 1970s, when it was changed to have hotel rooms, originally only in the front of the building. In 1999 it was renovated and expanded to have 50 rooms. When we took over in early 2017, it went through another major renovation and expansion to incorporate the 4th floor (Dachgeschoss) with 20 rooms, and a remodelled ground floor with another 10 rooms.
Now the hotel has 81 rooms and suites, including our 30 loft rooms. Those are a real USP for us and have quickly become very popular amongst families and young travellers, as we have two more beds on the loft level, plus swings in the room.
Sustainability is becoming more and more important in tourism, and the Guldsmeden brand seems to be leading the way. Which of the many sustainability initiatives that you have in place at Lulu do you find the most important, or inspiring, personally?
I love the fact that we have pulled through in F&B [food and beverage] to be 100% organic, including all spirits. We found some wonderful people and partners in the region who are very passionate about what they are doing.
Guldsmeden has been very devoted to sustainability since we had our first hotel in Arhus in 1999. Soon afterwards we created the ‘’I love eco essentials’’ brand, to bring luxurious bathroom products to the Group, which are free of micro plastics and in bottles made from collected consumer plastic, themselves also recyclable of course. Their larger sizes (compared to the usual, small plastic bottles used in hotels) avoid even more waste. Those are also certified by ECOCERT.
All linens in the bathrooms and bedrooms are made from organic cotton.
We really live the zero waste policy in our restaurant and kitchen.
Which aspects of running a city hotel sustainably do you find the most challenging?
The day-to-day recycling and minimizing of waste, whilst continuously educating the team and getting them to embrace this ideology, can be a challenge.
Being in an old building makes it difficult to save as much energy as we’d like to.
Would you say that Berlin is a green city destination?
A lot of people and businesses in Berlin are concerned about the environment and living in a more sustainable way. We have received a lot of great feedback and comments from people in Berlin congratulating us on our sustainability and hygge concept, which also shows that Berliners are very aware of such things now.
In Berlin there is a huge number of businesses, start-ups, individuals, and groups of people dedicated to sustainability. You come across such projects and initiatives wherever you look.
Your five bits of advice for environmentally conscious visitors, on how to best explore the city – what to do?
- Take one of our Schindelhauer bicycles – Berlin made – bikes to explore the city. `
- Be part of a green tour with greenme Berlin to see and experience Berlin from a different angle
- Participate in a Green Fashion Tour and shop in a sustainable way.
- Support the restaurants which have focus on truly working with local producers to keep the environmental impact low.
- Visit the endless green spaces and spend time on lakes and rivers throughout the city, something that makes Berlin unique.
Which restaurants, cafés or bars in Berlin would you recommend, for their commitment to sustainability?
Thank you, Marc!
Check facilities, availability and rates of LULU Guldsmeden here
Find out more about where to stay and what to do on our Berlin city page.