Zürich is home to a hotel that’s exclusively for women. A few minutes’ walk from the city’s main train station, Josephine’s Guesthouse not only welcomes female visitors but also takes in women in need of a secure shelter.
Having been open for a year, room occupancy is typically between 80-90% at the three-star hotel, which manager Verena Kern admits is much higher than she first expected. Inside it’s easy to see why: Josephine’s feels more like a home away from home than a hotel. On the airy top floor, guests mingle together, and a breakfast buffet is served at a large table every morning.
Like many hostels around the world, an open kitchen invites everyone to cook their own meals throughout the rest of the day. Guests have a locker in the fridge for food and there are amenities such as washing machines for visitors to use. ‘Josephine’s has the feel of a big shared apartment and this is something our customers enjoy a lot,’ Kern told Lonely Planet. The hotel welcomes all kinds of guests, including tourists on a city break, business customers on multi-day trips, plus long-term residents like guest lecturers and university students.
The duration of stays range from a single night to a maximum stay of six months, however eight to 10 of the hotel’s 38 rooms are reserved for women in need of an emergency place to stay, like those fleeing domestic abuse.
Some women are directed to Josephine’s by Zurich’s social department and other aid organisations. ‘With us they find a place to quieten down and resolve their affairs,’ explains Kern. ‘We are not a therapeutic institution and cannot handle acute crisis situations. But we can offer these women a safe haven to re-charge after the first storm has passed.’
Josephine’s is part of Frauenhotel AG, which also runs LADYs FIRST Hotel and Hotel Marta, both open to men and women. Prices at Josephine’s start from Sfr90 (US$96) per night for short stays and Sfr55 (US$58) per night for monthly stays.]
Words: Claudia Peter