In Augsburg’s old town, Grandhotel Cosmopolis is perhaps the most curious hotel in all of Germany; certainly the most unusual I have seen. This particular Grand hotel, you see, functions not only as a hotel, but also as home for asylum seekers, as artists’ studios, open work-spaces, a venue for concerts, exhibitions and other artistic performances.
I caught up with manager, Stef. He explains:
The large house on Springergässchen 5 is owned by the Diakonie (the welfare organization of the Protestant Church), and once housed World War II refugees. 40 years later, the building was abandoned and in ruins. As Augsburg increasingly became a commuter city for Munich, the area here was gentrified.
In 2011, local artists noticed the building’s potential and took it over (legally). When the authorities asked to rent the house as accommodations for refugees, an idea came up to combine refugee housing with artists’ workshops. The Diakonie liked the idea. The social room as it is today, opened in 2013, at a time when many Chechen refugees were about to be deported.
A social element, and also a cultural exchange.
Today, the house accommodates musicians, photographers, painters, dancers, concrete artists, in addition to asylum seekers and hotel guests. Neighbours drop by frequently for coffee and cake in the quirky lobby. The result is that all kinds of people meet, coexist peacefully, and learn from one another. Everyone is part of the social structure, and everything is based on volunteer work.
“It’s about human beings needing room, needing social space, needing respect and needing a chance,” says Stef. “It’s about sharing ideas and experiences.”
Grand hotel Augsburg – the hotel rooms
And then there are the people who can pay: the hotel guests.
Hotel stays, as well as meals in the communal dining room or a coffee in the lobby café, are priced according to a 3-tier system:
- Cost price
- Reality starts here
- Creates future
It’s up to you, where you want/are able to be on the scale. Pay as much as you can. For accommodations, that means a minimum of EUR 40. Anything above that is up to you.
The 12 rooms for hotel guests are all unique, and each is decorated by an individual artist. Most have cool views of the roof tops of Augsburg.
My visit in Augsburg was already planned, so I hadn’t the opportunity to stay the night this time. However, I did have time to join the crowd for lunch. So interesting!
At the large communal table, I’m sat next to Johanna, a theology student from near Nürnberg, who later shows me around town. Across the table is Magarita from Sardinia with her, as yet, unborn son Gavino. There’s an intern from Gran Canaria, who is here as part of his university studies. There’s manager Stef, and many more, all enjoying a wholesome lunch cooked by volunteers and paid for according to your conscience/wallet. Great discussions ensue.
If you are drawn to the unusual, I highly recommend you consider staying here a night or two. More info about Grandhotel Cosmopolis is here.