Creators Inn, a new hotel in Gothenburg, is not just a cool concept, but also an exercise in creative branding. A joint initiative between Swedish streetwear label Elvine and design agency Next Century Modern, the hotel offers free, short-term accommodation to visiting creative artists. This simple, yet visionary setup allows Elvine to establish itself as an innovative fashion brand while fostering creative collaborations and good will.
The concept was born when Next Century Modern CEO Jesper Larsson was searching for a marketing idea to present to Elvine around the same time that several friends were visiting Gothenburg. Elvine, which bills itself as “sophisticated clothes for unsophisticated behavior,” was founded in 2001 by Daniel Mänd, a graffiti artist on the streets of Gothenburg. He named the brand after his grandmother Elvine, a seamstress who escaped to Sweden from Estonia during WWII. The idea of promoting hospitality related well to one of the brand mottos: “Elvine is your friend.”
Of this easy crossover, Larsson explains: “It’s a great branding move: Elvine connects to its history in creative graffiti culture, its target group, and also gives back to both the creators and the city of Gothenburg as a whole. We call it ‘Creative Social Responsibility.”
The current form of Creators Inn by Elvine is a “capsule hotel” in collaboration with LAT, a creative collective located at Lindholmen in Gothenburg. Besides a single room for either an individual or a couple, guests have access to a shared bathroom and shower, a common work space, kitchen, dining area, a music studio and a work shop in the basement. Visitors are also offered clean sheets, a bathrobe, slippers, free wifi and consumables.
Creators Inn works first and foremost with local independent organizers, offering their guests a place to say, but anyone with a creative purpose is welcome—though priority is given to foreign visitors. A hotel-in-hotel version of Creators Inn in Stockholm is currently in the works, with a tentative plan to launch in August.
Larsson notes that people have a hard time grasping that Creators Inn is a complimentary service. “People simply cannot understand that this is free,” he says. “By offering visiting creators free accommodation, we hope to remind people of a lovely little thing called hospitality.”
Those who discover this oft-forgotten social feature are always pleasantly surprised. Kevin Doyle, for example, stayed at Creators Inn when he was in town working on a film shoot. At the suggestion of one of the Swedish bands he works with, he emailed Larsson “without actually believing” the claim. To his great surprise, Doyle received an immediate response back and was even picked up personally at Central Station and escorted back to the capsule hotel.
The Creators Inn website even guarantees guests the best rate in town: “Feel confident knowing that you will always get the best available rate at Creators Inn by Elvine. If you find a rate lower than zero, simply submit a Best Rate Guarantee Claim by emailing us and we will honor that lower rate.”
Now, this is a deal that’s hard to beat.