From globetrotter to hotel owner.

Alfonso and The Hat.

Alfonso is a successful business owner and manager of The Hat, an extraordinary hostel in the heart of Madrid. He rides the new BMW C 650 Sport. Agile, nimble and small enough for the narrow alleys in the city, it's the perfect vehicle for getting you from A to B, quickly, simply and comfortably.

A former globetrotter.

A former globetrotter.

"Travelling is the most important source of inspiration" says Alfonso López Roldán, owner of The Hat, a hostel in Madrid. The Spaniard has turned his passion into a profession and now looks after guests from all over the world. He previously worked at a marketing agency for 13 years and lived in Silicon Valley, near San Francisco. He has also travelled a lot around the world. "I have visited more than 50 countries by now. I spent all the money I earned on travelling," explains Alfonso. Then he had the idea of starting a brand new hostel concept – The Hat. He fulfilled his personal life-long dream with this new start.

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Travelling is the most important source of inspiration.
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Alfonso López Roldán, The Hat, Madrid

More than a place to "sleep & go".

More than a place to "sleep & go".

The hostel opened in 2014 in the centre of Madrid in a villa near the Plaza Mayor. The 220 rooms are decorated with an amazing eye for detail. A large roof terrace provides views across the rooftops of the city. Alfonso says that his hostel is more than just a "Sleep & Go". It is a centre for art, music, and charity projects. Artists display their work at The Hat and locals also come to visit the hostel. The guests feel right at home. Hence the motto: "Wherever I lay my hat, that’s my home". The main thing is to feel comfortable, to meet people and to exchange experiences.

The 37 year old hostel owner particularly cares about social commitment, the environment, and sustainability. As an example, local children can come to study English free of charge during the winter months. The Hat is also an eco-friendly hostel, as it is the only hostel in the city heated with biomass. Sustainable mobility in the city therefore also plays an important role for Alfonso. One of the reasons why he rides a scooter.

Each day, Alfonso has many business meetings, runs numerous errands or organises events. He therefore needs an urban mode of transport that quickly gets him from A to B. "Once you have tried a scooter, you never want to use a car again," enthuses Alfonso. He can avoid traffic jams and find a parking space wherever he goes.

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Interview with Alfonso

What makes The Hat different to other hostels?
"The Hat isn't just a place to sleep. It is a large community. It is a living concept, a dynamic place that reinvents itself and changes all the time. The Hat is a centre for art, music and travellers. There is always something going on. It is alive and exciting compared with other hotels and hostels. Our concept provides for an exchange between people. We also cater for a mix of travellers and locals."
Where do you draw inspiration from? What inspires your new ideas and projects?
"Most of my inspiration comes from work and travelling. When I signed the agreement with my investors, I had to promise that I would travel a lot during my time as a hostel manager. This year, I've already been to Peru, London and Berlin. And I'm also going to New York and Costa Rica. In the past, we've also taken ideas from Japan and Korea. Travelling is the most important source of inspiration."
How do you work together with the local citizens?
"We firmly believe that our business can only function in collaboration with the city. We have a lot of space in our building. We organise monthly art exhibitions for young artists, for example. Even for artists as far afield as South America. They come here and hold huge parties on the terrace. This is free of charge for them. We have also helped to get the lights in the cupola of the Iglesia de Santa Cruz working again. A breathtaking view from our terrace. This was a little gift from us to the city".
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What does mobility mean to you? And why have you decided to ride the C650 Sport?
"In our business, it's very important to meet many people each day. That's why I need a quick form of transport. Once you have tried a scooter, you never want to use a car again. You can double your time and meet 20 people in just one day. It's really easy to get to supermarkets, restaurants and bars on a scooter. You spend your whole life in traffic jams if you drive a car. The idea is to simply make more time."
What would you say to people who want to turn a dream into reality?
"Many people don't really like their jobs, have a dream and are too scared to make it a reality. They don't realise that it's really possible. You simply have to wake up one morning and realise that you can really do it. We decided to chase our dream and open The Hat. You have to love your idea and be willing to fight for it.
What do you recommend for discovering new or "hidden" places?
"The only secret is to explore the city on foot. Don't use taxis, discover the city together with other people, talk to the locals, ask them questions, try to make new friends and talk to the bar keepers. It is important to prepare for a trip by reading a city guide or researching on the internet. But the really important part is to talk to the locals and ask them about the places they would visit."
What motivates you in your daily work?
"Happiness, travelling, curiosity, meeting new people - that's what drives me in life. And movement. I can't stay longer than two minutes in the same place".
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