Hotel Imperial

14 Sep

Last week Franz Welser-Möst stepped down from the State Opera House. This week another farewell was reported, just as significant if somewhat more peaceable. Michael Moser, the head concierge at the Hotel Imperial, who himself occasionally uses the old-fashioned word Portier, is retiring after 31 years. Originally from the Austrian province of Carinthia, he has worked half of his life at the Imperial (link to website below), and seems to be perfect concierge material–no surprise there, given the hotel’s reputation. In his interview in the Kurier (sadly I couldn’t find it available for free online) he talks about service, discretion, relationships of many years with the many prominent guests, and the need to know Vienna and what is going on in the city inside out, especially in the days of the internet when guests can do so much research themselves.

In an earlier article he said, “‘Gibt’s nicht’, gibt es nicht”–that is, “‘Doesn’t exist’, doesn’t exist” if you’re concierge at such an establishment. He mentioned that he has a annual membership at the Albertina and the Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien (the Museum of Fine Arts in Vienna) and goes to the opera or theater about 50 times a year–“Because I like it, you understand. Not because I must.” He may go because he likes it, but it also means that when a guest asks him, for example, if the staging of an opera is modern or traditional he can answer. Not to be able to do so would be very embarrassing for him, he said. He also makes a point of finding less prominent spots and events in Vienna so that he can give guests special tips, like when the lilacs are blooming in the St. Marx cemetery (where Mozart is buried in a paupers’ grave) .

He may be retiring from life out front at the Imperial, but he will still be turning up regularly. Apparently,he’s been collecting menus, newspaper articles, funny stories from guests, and so on over the years, just tossing them into a box in his office. He is now going to take some time to sort through the 40 or so boxes he has assembled and bring some system to them. “Not for my sake and not for the sake of the Hotel, but for future generations,” he said, “so that they have something to laugh about.”


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