an excerpt from

Home away from home

The hotel that's redefining the concept—for its staff

an excerpt from

Home away from home

The hotel that's redefining the concept—for its staff

words Nareg Seferian
photos Stefan Fürtbauer

Mutig in die neuen Zeiten,
Frei und gläubig sieh uns schreiten,
Arbeitsfroh und hoffnungsreich.
Einig lass in Jubelchören,
Vaterland, dir Treue schwören.
Vielgeliebtes Österreich,
Vielgeliebtes Österreich.
 
The Austrian national anthem consists of three verses, each ending with a reverential description of the country – much-vaunted Austria, much-tested Austria, much-beloved Austria. The lyrics, composed after WWII, are telling. Austria, situated in the middle of the Continent, had had to re-invent itself as a republic following the fall of the House of Habsburg with the end of the First World War; and within two generations, had again to re-imagine its place in the world, in the aftermath of its wartime Nazi associations.

The asphalt driveway that leads up to the Magdas Hotel in Vienna has the third verse of the national anthem scribbled on it in a number of languages. I recognise the English, French, Spanish. There are a few from the Slavic family, alongside Farsi, Arabic, and several others that I can’t place. Much-beloved Austria, much-beloved Austria.

Today’s Austria is prosperous and vibrant, but is once again in the midst of a continent grappling with a large-scale refugee crisis. Caritas, a charity with Catholic roots, is the organisation behind the hotel, which opened its doors in 2015. Its unique business model welcomes refugees and asylum-seekers as apprentices and employees. The hotel’s name points to its playfulness: “Ich mag das” means “I like it” or “I want it”. The only indication of the hotel’s mission are a few photographs and handwritten messages from current and former employees, framed on a wall to the right of the foyer.

magdas Hotel in Vienna, Austria. Service staff Jan (20) from Syria.


Find the rest of this article in Issue Two


Find the rest of this article in Issue Two

© 2019 Perfect Strangers LLC. All rights reserved.

© 2019 Perfect Strangers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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