Faktum Hotels Supplies the Homeless Experience

Faktum Hotels offers a unique experience: sleeping on the streets. With beautiful, high-resolution photos of scenic cityscapes, one might mistake Faktum Hotels for an upscale evening of Michelin Star cuisine and high ceilings. Located in Gothenburg, Sweden, their rooms are advertised as romantic getaways with historic surroundings, posh art, and a borderline pretentious appreciation for the arts. Yet Faktum Hotels only has one goal—helping the homeless.

“Fit for a king, the hilltop accommodation of Kungshöjd lies just inside the old city wall and enjoys a palatial view across the water. The area is bubbling with life and just around the corner is a first-class shopping district,” reads one location, with a photograph depicting sleeping bags and a dark, highly textured concrete jungle under a bridge.

Anyone can “rent” one of these rooms. For one night, the cost is only $15 (100 SKE). But what is being offered isn’t an accommodation; renting a hotel room is a donation to Faktum, a street newspaper that the homeless of Gothenburg sell.

Launched in November of 2012, Faktum Hotels is the brainchild of Faktum’s event manager, Sara Erkhagen, along with ad agency Forsman & Bodenfors and Thomson Interactive Media. Forsman & Bodenfors has worked with newspapers before, as well as Ikea, Volvo, and UNICEF. Thomson Interactive Media currently works with Spotify, the new “it” website for music streaming.

“Faktum Hotels is not a real hotel where you can book real hotel accommodations,” Faktum Hotels states on their website. “It’s a smart way to support Gothenburg’s street newspaper, Faktum.” With 3,400 homeless in Gothenburg, Faktum enables the homeless community to gain control of their own wellbeing. About 1 in 6 homeless people in Sweden live in Gothenburg.

Established in 2001, Faktum issues a newspaper for the homeless of Gothenburg to sell on the streets. Faktum provides an income based on the honing of sales skills and responsibilities that can make homeless job applicants more appealing to employers. “We work to arouse debate and opinions about homelessness and isolation, but above all we provide those most in need with an occupation.” Faktum hopes tourists and Swedes alike will discuss issues that the homeless face.

Spare Change News works under an identical model with a similar mission: provide the homeless community a means of empowerment, a way to build structure in one’s life while making money to support oneself. Yet it is during the brutal winter months that awareness and support for the homeless becomes most critical.

According to Faktum Editor-in-Chief, Aaron Israelson, “The most important thing is to take a look at what is going on around the street, to take a minute or a couple of seconds to look homeless people in the eye when you meet them in the street and just reflect.” Buying a newspaper and renting a hotel room with a view doesn’t seem like a bad idea, either.

—Jonathan Igne-Bianchi

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