Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Hotel identity crisis

The world is a funny place. I am going to New York tomorrow with my family and in our search for a hotel we came across many different gimmicks meant to entice people to book a room. Some hotels had installed fireplaces in every room; one was completely designed as some sort of library, not to mention the numerous other less inspired themes available. My favourites however involved animals, for one a hotel that offered their guests a goldfish bowl, with a goldfish, that they could have sent to the room to assume as their pet during the stay. The other one allowed you to bring your own pet from home and supplied the honoured guest with a bathrobe (i.e. the pets ) and also had an in-house pet physic whose services you could engage via the concierge. Although we cannot bring our pets to New York unless we are willing to have them placed in quarantine for weeks on end upon return, we nonetheless decided to opt for the pet psychic hotel. We are thinking of bringing some fur off their backs (2 dogs, one cat and one stray cat that we feed) and see if the other side has some messages for them but this is not the selling point – that was the pillow menu with 30 odd selections. It was impossible not to book a room there seeing that they have really gone out of their way trying.

Did you buy the pillow menu excuse? Ah. The real reason that we booked rooms there is the third great thing about this hotel (aside from the forth which is the relatively reasonable price) namely that we will have a balcony. This we do not intend to use to look into the sky, gazing for pet angels or pet aliens in spaceships – no, we are going to smoke on the balcony.

I remember having mentioned that I would at some point tell you about the unluckiest logo in the history of the world and guess this is a good a time as ever to do so. The logo in question is the trademark chosen for the first shipping company established in Iceland – hið íslenska Eimskipafélag – now named Eimskip. Founded in 1914 it meant a great deal to the country as we depend greatly upon shipping and it was soon nicknamed “the country’s dream child” and referred to as such till this very day. For decades it was the only Icelandic company backed up with shares and was long considered a very good and solid investment, the closest thing to “blue chip” that we have ever had. Now it is of course bankrupt or almost bankrupt, one can’t keep track anymore. But I digress, it was the logo I set out to tell you about, the logo that was carefully chosen in 1914 and meant to relate to our heritage, be recognisable and awake feelings of an honourable establishment you would want to sail with or send your container between countries with. Little did Eimskip’s founders know, nor could they have seen what was coming since they had no psychics (pet or otherwise) in their service when they chose the symbol for Thor’s Hammer as the company’s logo.

Being stubborn, this logo was used until sometime in the 90’s when tourism became an actual industry here and our foreign guests started pointing and taking photos of Eimskip’s headquarters. To us it was just Eimskip’s logo, often mistaken for something else, but not justly so since it was not tilted and blue, not black. We have an old saying “glöggt er gests augað”, meaning something akin to “a guest’s eye sees better” and in this case it certainly applied.

Before going to bed in a few minutes, in preparation for my trip tomorrow, I am going to pull some hairs from a couple of pelts.

Yrsa - Wednesday


  1. I hope you enjoy your trip to New York and that you'll post the results of your pet psychic excursion when you get a chance.

    As for the unfortunate logo, that is unfortunate! I did not realize that was the symbol for Thor's hammer and I feel for the Norse god, having his symbol hijacked in modern society.


  2. Eimskip was hardly alone. For centuries, the swastika was a well-known symbol of good fortune until Hitler got hold of it. Right until WWII, it was actually a quite common logo all over the world.

    A few years ago, someone even published a book compiled of photographs showing various ways the symbol was used by different groups and companies. (The most striking was that of a Canadian girls' hockey team from the early 1900s, all of them proudly posing with huge swastikas on their uniforms.)

    Hope you have a great time in New York!