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4-Star Hotel Shames Guests With Pictures of Starving Children in Bid to Reduce Food Waste

4-Star Hotel Shames Guests With Pictures of Starving Children in Bid to Reduce Food Waste
Jennifer Billock

The Hotel Monopol & Its Food-Shaming Sign (Photos: Hotel Monopol; Shanghaiist)

Foreigners are being taken to task at a Swiss hotel who wants guests to stop wasting food.

The 4-star Hotel Monopol in Luzern, Switzerland recently began placing food-shaming images throughout its restaurant as a means of chastising guests for wasting food. The signs included photos of emaciated children below this message:

The malnourished children die… and in Switzerland people waste food and throw it away. This is in Switzerland ethically and morally unacceptable.

Amid the pictures, the Monopol included a brief note to its guests in both English and Chinese. The same note was included on signs placed at each table. “Good morning dear guests. For ethical and moral reason, in Switzerland we do not throw away any food,” the hotel wrote. “Please put on your plate only what you do eat. Thank you for your understanding.”

The signs sparked a media frenzy, with some outlets suggesting the messages is aimed specifically at Chinese travelers. The Monopol, however, says its controversial message is targeted toward at all foreign guests.

“We can expect that the foreign guests to a certain extent to respect our customs, we do so in foreign countries” Brigitte Heller, general manager at the hotel, told Swiss newspaper Blick. But according to local media, only a few months earlier, Heller allegedly mentioned the signs were placed after Chinese guests took an excessive amount of food from the buffet and left most of it on their plates.

Heller claims that many of the hotel’s guests approve of the signs, and since they went up, food waste at Monopol has decreased.

[Photos: Shanghaiist; Hotel Monopol]

View Comments (10)


  1. Enigma368

    June 18, 2015 at 6:52 pm

    The problem with this kind of thing, and it is the same as hotels who ask you to re-use towels to save the environment, is that in 95% of the time, really the hotel is just looking to save money and using problems in the world to try and do it. I would prefer if they just said “in order to keep costs down at the hotel and at the same time to help save the environment(or in this case to help avoid unnecessary food waste), please try to do X”. At least that is honest.

  2. diburning

    June 18, 2015 at 10:06 pm

    Aimed specifically at Chinese travelers? I’m not surprised. If you’ve ever been to a Chinese buffet, chances are, you’ve see a sign that says something along the lines of: “Please do not waste food. You will be charged for any uneaten food.”

  3. Lucentis

    June 18, 2015 at 10:45 pm

    Well done, Monopol! Completely agree with the hotel staff

  4. corbetti

    June 18, 2015 at 11:03 pm

    Good for them! Perhaps a little light needs to be shone on this from time to time.

  5. jahason

    June 19, 2015 at 3:41 am

    An excellent move. One restaurant gave cash back to anyone with a clean plate after a buffet meal.

  6. HomerJay

    June 19, 2015 at 5:31 am

    There are tens of thousands of African migrants arriving each month in Europe. How many, I wonder, are in Switzerland? Does this hotel offer unused food to groups that feed the hungry? Until someone can affirmatively report that food from the Monopol actually does go to those in need, I will assume that this is just a clever ploy by some mercenary bean-counter whose conscience does not extend beyond the bottom line.

  7. cestmoi123

    June 19, 2015 at 8:19 am

    Agree with Enigma above. Most of the time, these “don’t waste food,” or “be green, don’t get new sheets” campaigns are really about “keep our food costs down,” or “don’t make us spend as much on laundry and maid service.”

    I really like Starwood’s approach on the sheets/maid service thing. If you agree to forego maid service, they give you 250 points or a $5 credit.

  8. gum

    June 19, 2015 at 9:20 am

    Would like to agreee with HomerJey and Enigma368.

    Just let me add another perception to the already mentioned issue of not being honest to the own guests. I think this is really a shame due to the fact that the hotel is no longer allowed to use food for other purposes when it has been presented to guests. So the alterrnative is simply throwing the precious food away.

    IMHO the manager who started the presentation of the images should immediately leave his business.

    He hasn’t understood that the tourism industry especially on luxury level gives many opportunities to people to make the living for themselves and their family. Furthermore he hadn’t understood that travel is one of the privileges of an open society (and Switzerland relies on export/import activities).

    Their rack rate for the double room in summer starts at 195,– USD. So the honest question would be: Which percentage of the profit does the owner give as contribution to feed the poor.

    If I would have been guest there I simply would put them on my list of hotels where I will never return.

    The management and owner is simply tasteless and a miser (not wanting to spend e.g. 1 or 2 US Dollar more per person for a supposedly not cheap buffet).

  9. Matt777

    June 19, 2015 at 12:15 pm

    Is anyone else getting tired of the lazy writing style of adding “-shaming” to everything? (Sorry to diction-shame the author!)

  10. JohnnyRockets

    June 23, 2015 at 11:32 am

    The signs sparked a media frenzy, with some outlets suggesting the messages is aimed specifically at Chinese travelers. The Monopol, however, says its controversial message is targeted toward at all foreign guests.

    The hotel IS targeting Chinese travelers. Switzerland is surrounded by several different language speaking country yet the sign is in English and Chinese.

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