Hotel Utopia in Berlin is based on a unique hospitality concept developed by Prinzip Heimat e.V. The hotel will provide people with refugee backgrounds with jobs and vocational training in hospitality and gastronomy. Hotel Utopia is a new twist on a familiar story, enabling people who have fled their homes to be the hosts — not just to international visitors, but to German tourists too. It is, by its very nature, a powerful statement against discrimination and xenophobia.
The lobby is abuzz with activity. From behind the reception desk, Zahra, from Syria, checks in a French family visiting Berlin for the weekend. Anton, who recently fled the fighting in Ukraine, helps an elderly man carry a suitcase upstairs. Meanwhile Jonathan, from Eritrea, learns how to set up the dinner buffet. Welcome to Hotel Utopia!
A place where the world meets
At Hotel Utopia, visitors to Berlin are welcomed by hosts and hostesses from all over the world. It is a place that unites people from diverse backgrounds and provides opportunities for meaningful dialogue that breaks down prejudice. Hotel Utopia puts refugees at the heart of society rather than on the outside looking in.
A sustainable path to self-reliance
Two-thirds of the hotel’s staff will be made up of people with a refugee background. Rounded out by professionals from the hospitality sector, the team will manage and run the hotel. Being gainfully employed helps to build a sense of self-worth through social recognition and financial independence. Working closely with German colleagues also helps refugees improve their language skills and fosters intercultural understanding amongst the entire staff. The hotel will employ a job coach to help employees with long-term career planning as well as social and legal questions. We are also building a network of refugee-support organisations that can provide employees with other relevant services, such as language courses or psychological therapy, to support personal development and efficient operations at the hotel.
A career with perspective
Tourism is a high-growth sector in Berlin. According to Berlin’s Office of Statistics, the city exceeded its record for overnight stays by 6.5% in 2014. However, there is a distinct deficit of skilled labour. As the hospitality and tourism sectors benefit greatly from language and cultural diversity, it is a natural fit for people with a migration background, especially since expertise and degrees in tourism and hospitality equip employees with skills and certifications that are recognised worldwide.
Many of the people who are seeking or have received asylum in Germany have professional experience, qualifications and a high level of motivation. Hotel Utopia offers these individuals the chance to establish their careers in a growing sector. And, to ensure sustainability, we are also developing partnerships with other hotels to provide further training and employment opportunities.
Speaking out for diversity
As racism against refugees increases, Hotel Utopia makes a bold, uncompromising statement for diversity and cultural understanding. Our concept also demonstrates to sceptical employers that hiring refugees can be an effective and scalable solution. We offer a beacon of social acceptance that will serve as a model for Berlin, Germany, and beyond.
We plan to open Hotel Utopia in 2018. The hotel will be run as a social enterprise by experts from the field to ensure its long-term operation, independent of third-party donations or other charity-based support. This means that all profits will be reinvested in the company. In addition to overnight stays, our profit streams will include a restaurant, cultural programmes, and meeting and conference hosting.