There’s a Swedish Hotel Where Guests Pay to Be Homeless

What's next? Will guests have to panhandle to afford a mini bar?

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Håkan Ludwigson and Forsman & Bodenfors for Faktum

A room at the old paper mill in Gothenburg

The Faktum hotel in Gothenburg, Sweden’s second largest city, is only a hotel in the loosest sense of the word, with ten ‘rooms’ for guests who desire a unique sleeping experience. Like any hotel, guests are able to select and pay for their room, but there’s a catch: the rooms themselves happen to be the locations where Gothenburg’s estimated 3,400 homeless people commonly sleep.

For those who wish to experience what it’s like to be homeless, rooms costs just $15 a night and are advertised on the hotels sleek website, featuring darkly-lit, night-time shots of each location. Guests can chose from seemingly picturesque options such as Haga Park — where they can sleep among the trees by the local church. Or they can opt to huddle underneath concrete arches by shipyards, or sleep on a stained mattress in an abandoned paper mill.

(MORE: Battered and Bruised Minds Lead to Homelessness)

This concept was conceived by Faktum magazine, a publication sold by homeless people in Gothenburg. The money spent on the ‘rooms’ goes towards funding the paper. Since its inception in November 2012, the hotel has received some 1,000 bookings according to Faktum magazine editor, Aaron Israelson.

Not many guests make it through their entire stay, though “some really tried,” Israelson told the Swedish paper the Local, “with one woman managing to stay for about four hours.” Israelson and his colleagues hope the hotel concept will help raise public awareness and spur debate on the realities of living rough in Gothenburg. He said local government officials have shown little interest in the project so far and have put in place “no real support systems” for the thousands living on the streets.

“A couple of guests who spend the night outdoors told me that it made them appreciate their every day life in a new way,” said Israelson. “The simple things like a warm bed, a roof and a job.”

MORE: Down and Out in L.A.: When the Middle Class Goes Homeless