The OG of Hybrid Hospitality

Unless you live in Amsterdam, you’ve probably never heard of Hotel Casa.

So, what's special about it?

Well, they’re pioneers of hybrid hospitality and they’re copied a lot — take other successful Amsterdam hotel concepts like Zoku, Social Hub, and CitizenM, for example.

So, why did they never scale to other locations?

The short answer: They don't have to.

Founded in the late ‘50s to help solve the housing shortage for students, Hotel Casa is a non-profit business and they don’t have any pressure from stakeholders to grow.

Their hybrid model of offering hotels rooms alongside student housing allows them to create an interesting mix of people while simultaneously generating extra cash to subvent their affordable student accommodation.

Student rooms cost about 500 Euro a month, which is very cheap for Amsterdam, so it won’t surprise you to hear there’s a two-year waitlist.

And their hotel rooms can cost anywhere between 120 and 250 Euro a night.

A non-profit with no aim to scale?

You might expect some hippie business, but Hotel Casa is a very progressive design hotel and they use a lot of smart hacks to support their success.

Let's have a look at some of the things they do differently than the average hotel.

#1 Big Inventory Game 🎲

Hotel Casa plays the Inventory Game.

(The numbers above are just my estimates, not based on real data)
  • 550 rooms in total — 150 rooms for guests, 350 rooms for students with separate entrances for each
  • During summer months, when students are on break, student rooms are reduced to 50, making more room for hotel guests
  • Students can access common areas for guests, but guests can’t access exclusive student areas like the games room, study area or laundry room

#2 A 24/7 Lobby Shop That Prints Money 💸

I’ve seen a lot of lobby shops, but never one so appealing that I bought something — until Hotel Casa.

I talked to the General Manager, who shared some insights.

  • The best-selling article: water bottles - a surprising fact considering the hotel promotes drinking Amsterdam tap water which is drinkable and tasty
  • Most sales happen between 10 pm and 3 am
  • The hotel doesn’t have to do anything, the shop is fully autonomous with self-service by card payment
  • When some products need to be restocked, an operating company takes care of it
  • The profit share is 35% for Hotel Casa with the rest belonging to the operating company

#3 Meeting Spaces and Coworking 💻

One of the most common patterns when you visit hybrid hospitality hotels is the focus on meeting rooms — in fact I organize a coworking day for hospitality folks once a month in Hotel Casa’s lobby.

  • All of the meeting spaces in Hotel Casa have access to natural light
  • They all have a modern design aesthetic that looks 10x better than what you’d experience in a traditional conference hotel
  • All meeting spaces are located on the 1st floor
  • The ground floor hosts the East - a cafe/bar/restaurant that blends into the lobby (picture above)
  • The hotel encourages people to come and work from their laptops
  • Students can come too, but they also have a dedicated quiet studying area on the 2nd floor, free of hotel guests where they aren’t expected to buy food or drink

#4 F&B 🍸

The best hack of Hotel Casa is that they have an almost unlimited supply of people working in F&B.

  • These people are affordable and available anytime and at the last minute because they are students who live in the hotel
  • The food menu is designed in a way that anyone can prepare any dish
  • The rooftop bar Gaap has become a destination for locals, and it offers great marketing for the hotel — for instance, I’ve personally never slept there, but I’ve recommended it to many friends
  • The vibe of East changes throughout the day, thanks to transitional lighting — in the morning it feels like a cafe, at lunch a restaurant and in the evening a trendy bar

If you liked this post, you might like my analysis of Zoku too.

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