«We don’t just talk about sustainability, we live it here at Motto. Our hotel was built by Austrian carpenters and fitters. We serve fair trade coffee in our cafe and organic wines at our bar»
Austria’s capital has more than four hundred hotels. Hotel Motto, in the heart of the city’s 6th district, was designed and opened by restaurateur Bernd Schlacher, a known figure in the Austrian hospitality scene, and architect Arkan Zeytinoglu. It aims to create «a microcosmos for people looking for a break from reality. A place where everyone can embrace their individual lifestyle».
Hotel Motto: an artsy concept hotel in Vienna’s hipster district
The 17th-century property, home of composer Strauss’ family and former Hotel Kummer, is located on Mariahilferstraße, Vienna’s pedestrian zone turned into main shopping street. It is surrounded by cafes, bars and restaurants, shops and yoga studios. Less than a ten-minute-walk away tourist hotspots such as the Museumsquartier and the open-air Naschmarkt can be found, featuring food stalls and restaurants. St. Stephan’s Cathedral can be reached in seven minutes by underground.
«This building has always attracted artists and people living a liberal lifestyle», says Bernd Schlacher, who lived in a city loft in the area together with his husband and two children until recently, and can often be seen taking care of his guests at the hotel.
Chandeliers from the Ritz in Paris and rooms with cocktail bars
Hotel Motto has ninety-one rooms, a spa and a gym, and a rooftop restaurant called Chez Bernd, serving a mix of French and Austrian cuisine. It also has a bar where smoothies are served in the morning and sundowners at night. Chairs and tables go all the way to the street, where guests and locals enjoy croissants and baguettes during the day, from Motto’s own in-house bakery in the basement.
Most of the furniture and decor was designed and built for Hotel Motto by small local manufacturers. Others, including the old chandeliers, were bought at auctions following the closing of Ritz Hotel in Paris six years ago, including the old chandeliers. Accessories, decor, and fabrics were all hand-picked by Bernd Schlacher himself.
The hotel is Viennese, Parisian, and sustainable
«I love Paris. Every year, I invite one of my best friends there for a weekend break. It has been a tradition for a long time», says Mr. Schlacher, explaining the idea behind his hotel: «Paris and Vienna were very much alike in the 1920s in terms of lifestyle and design. So, we thought, why not use elements of both worlds and create our own».
Sustainability played a key role when building, and now running, what he calls his ‘dream hotel’: «We don’t just talk about sustainability, we live it here at Motto. Our hotel was built by Austrian carpenters and fitters. We serve fair trade coffee in our cafe and organic wines at our bar, use local ingredients in our restaurant and have our own sustainable showergel and shampoo line, created just for the hotel. We bake our own bread, the so-called Motto bread, in-house ourselves and use leftovers to brew beer, instead of throwing them away».
From restaurants to hospitality: Schlacher’s journey
Those familiar with Vienna’s hospitality and nightlife scene are going to recognize Schlacher’s signature handwriting in the hotel. Born and raised in Styria in Southern Austria, Mr. Schlacher moved to Vienna at the age of fifteen, where he was trained as an electromechanic. However, he soon discovered that his side-job as a waiter, that he had taken up «to make some extra cash», suited him more than his day-time job.
A few years later he moved on from working fulltime in the Austrian hospitality industry to taking the leap to Jamaica where he first worked as a waiter at Trident Villas & Hotel, and was then promoted assistant manager «at the time when Tom Cruise shot his movie ‘Cocktail’ right there». His curiosity for restaurants and hotels took him further to New York and Miami before he took over the Motto bar in Vienna’s 5th district. In 2010, the sleek Motto am Fluss restaurant followed, an all-day restaurant and bar, doubling as an event space.
«When I started out in the 1980s and 1990s, Vienna’s restaurant scene was very conservative. My aim has always been to create an environment where everyone can have fun. The world is full of problems, let’s leave them at the door for a couple of hours and enjoy the positive sides of life». says Mr. Schlacher, who’s vision hasn’t changed in almost forty years in the business. So, when Hotel Kummer on Mariahilfer Straße closed its doors and one of Bernd Schlacher’s friends bought the property, he decided to combine both his love for the hospitality industry and his passion in world traveling. «I’ve dreamt about opening my own hotel for a long time and when the opportunity came, I seized it».
A challenging start due to the COVID pandemic
Unlike his previous projects, however, Hotel Motto had a bumpy start. «We opened in late 2019, just before the coronavirus pandemic hit, and had to close again for several months due to the first lockdown», Mr. Schlacher says. Several further lockdowns followed, and Vienna’s strict Covid rules posed an additional challenge for the hospitality industry: «While cities like Paris and Barcelona were packed over the Christmas period, Vienna was considered a place to avoid – a disaster for the hospitality sector as a whole».
During these times, it was the locals that allowed the new Hotel Motto to thrive. «Luckily, we had a lot of guests from other parts of the country stay with us, as well as people living in Vienna, that aimed to re-discover their city from a tourist point of view, including sightseeing and a hotel stay». As a result, Hotel MOTTO managed to fill more than sixty percent of its rooms by the end of April.
The future of the MOTTO brand
Bernd Schlacher’s next project is the refurbishment of restaurant Cobenzl in Vienna’s district Döbling. However, he doesn’t rule out a sister hotel of Motto at some point, should the opportunity arise. «I don’t intend to start a hotel chain or open another place just for the sake of further expanding my business», he says. «I am nearly fifty-seven years old, I have two young children. All my projects are close to my heart, so, they have to fit both my vision and my lifestyle. While I am very lucky to have a job I cherish every single day, I equally value some quiet family time».
Mariahilfer Straße 71A,
1060 Wien, Austria