Tourists are often shielded from the harsh realities that exist in the lives of those they visit, but not at Vienna’s Magdas Hotel. The boutique guesthouse doubles as a social enterprise, housing young refugees alongside affluent travelers.
The hotel was launched by non-profit Caritas as a way to provide employment and housing to some of Austria’s young refugees, while simultaneously raising awareness of their plight. The arrangement encourages guests to recognize them as individual humans — who are making a contribution to society — rather than as faceless statistics.
The majority of hotel staff are refugees, among them two asylum seekers — both under 18 — who use the hotel lounge as their living room. They are encouraged to interact with guests, who in turn appreciate the social impact of the initiative. An apprenticeship program is expected to launch in the fall and numerous NGOs from other European cities have expressed interest in the self-sufficient project. Where else could this model work?