The history of A&O Hotels and Hostels – a great story of entrepreneurial success

CEO and mastermind Oliver WinterThe history of A&O Hotels and Hostels is therefore somewhat special because it also reflects the success story of a young man who has never lost sight of his dream!

From student to entrepreneur

In the 90s, Oliver Winter has been nothing but a normal student on his way to become a teacher, who gave himself a break from studies to explore the big wide world. Like many other young people these days, he visited other countries to learn about different cultures and to broaden his horizon. After countless new experiences that he has collected, he came up with an idea that did not exist in Germany at that time.

The hostel idea was born

Oliver wanted to give people the opportunity to spend the night at a cheap rate, especially those with little money, but still offering them a central location in bigger cities and, most importantly, without having to pay a membership in a youth hostel association ( which was required at that time in every hostel). This type of accommodation - professionally managed, affordable, with no youth hostel card, and still centrally located – hardly existed in the end of the last century.

Patience and perseverance pays off

The struggle to realise his project of a hostel was hard and after many initial difficulties his dream was almost in danger of failing. But Oliver Winter did not give up and did everything he could to make his vision reality. Oliver temporarily ran a beverage store in order to finance his studies while working on his concept. As luck would have it, his former landlord Michael Kluge found out about the idea and visited the young man. The two men started talking and Michael Kluge was enthusiastic about the idea realising that this concept was a winning formula.
With the know-how of Michael Kluge and the enthusiasm that Oliver still shows to this day, the concept could be implemented and his dream came true.

A milestone in the hostel industry made in Germany

In 2000, the first A&O hostel finally opened in Berlin Friedrichshain, with just 164 beds being simply furnished. By the end of that year the number of beds were doubled and the standard increased.

After that first successful year, A&O’s credo became the following: “Every year at least two new houses!”

In the following years many more hostels have been opened and built, in cities such as Amsterdam, Berlin, Prague, Munich, Hamburg, Dresden, Leipzig, Vienna, Dusseldorf, Cologne, Nuremberg, Dortmund, Karlsruhe, Graz, Weimar, Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Salzburg and Aachen.

Sixteen years later A&O now offers 22.000 beds with overnight stays increasing from 80.000 to 3.2 million.

A success story that never ends!


The A&O story visualised: