Room Service: Hellstens Malmgard, Stockholm

Hunt out a slice of Swedish history

In a far corner of Sodermalm, Stockholm's hipster-haven island, it's surprising to find a mansion laced with history tucked away amid modern utilitarian apartments. The 240-year-old listed building, built around a courtyard, was once a royal hunting lodge. Now, it is the latest hotel from the Swedish entrepreneur Per Hellsten.

When this unique slice of Swedish real estate came to market (it was previously a private home owned by a pharmacist) some 200 bidders wanted to get their hands on it. Hellsten, who has four other hotels in the city and other properties in Finland and Brazil, won the contract on the promise that he'd keep it as a public place. As a globetrotting businessman, he found the cream walls, inoffensive artwork and empty spaces of hotels he often stayed at so impersonal that he vowed that in his own hotels, each room would have the same careful touches and individuality that he'd put into his own home. Malmgard's history only serves to enhance this sense of character.

Each room is decorated in vibrant colours and retains original features, such as tiled ceramic stoves – known locally as kakelugns – fireplaces, and stone floors. The structure of the building could not be changed, so expect to find the modern bathrooms, of variable size, tucked into archways and corners. And the conference rooms have more gravitas than usual, with decorative Gustavian furniture and antiques picked up on Hellsten's travels.

The service is excellent. I arrived late at night, and found a table by the entrance laden with tea, coffee and snacks for a midnight munch. Reception staff went out of their way to ensure I didn't miss any daytime adventures – even finding a ferry to an obscure island in the archipelago in the depths of winter.

Relaxed breakfasts, served under the arches in the brick vaulted basement, are worth lingering over. The croissants could be Parisian, and the fresh bread with cheese, cold meats and pickled herring were delicious; the tubes of fish roe were more of an acquired taste.

Location

Sitting in the north-west of Sodermalm, the hotel is a short walk to other islands including Gamla Stan (Old Town) with its historic pastel-painted buildings and leafy, museum-filled Skeppsholmen. Alternatively, Zinkensdamm metro station is a block away, on the same line as Gamla Stan and Central Station, where the Arlanda Express train arrives and departs for the airport.

Sodermalm is rapidly becoming the Swedish capital's answer to east London. For Sweden this is almost edgy: artists, musicians and interior designers flock here for its bohemian laid-back feel. Most streets are home to boutiques, vintage clothing shops, cafés and coffee houses. Stand-outs include Café Cinema on Sodermannagatan (00 46 8641 4220), with its strong coffee and cinema chairs, owned by film director Mani Maserrat Agah; and Café String (00 46 8714 8514; cafestring.com), where you sink into sofas and armchairs that are all for sale, should you find yourself growing attached to your seat.

Stockholm may be one of the most expensive cities in the world, but the water-laced capital, with the brackish Baltic Sea to the east and Lake Malaren to the west, is picturesque enough to wander about without needing to reach into your pocket often. That said, exploring some of the 24,000 islands and islets of the archipelago, scattered out towards the Baltic, is an unforgettable day trip, particularly in summer when the sunshine sparkles on the water and sea breezes cool the air. On islands such as Gallno and Karklo, where the population barely reaches double figures, traditional island life has been maintained – it's hard to believe they are just a couple of hours from the city.

Comfort

Beige is banished. The 52 rooms are painted in bright purple, deep red or yellow. Eighteenth-century porcelain stoves and quirky antiques come as standard, including old typewriters, chests, pianos and other relics from Hellsten's travels. The beds, four-poster in some rooms, are incredibly comfortable. Modern slate bathrooms are the only obvious design concession to the 21st century, with power showers and wet-room-style open spaces. All rooms have flat-screen televisions and free Wi-Fi.

There's no spa, gym or restaurant; instead this is a carefully thought out three-star hotel with excellent service and a sense of history.

Hellstans Malmgard, Brannkyrkagatan 110, Sodermalm, Stockholm, Sweden (00 46 84 650 5800; www.hellstensmalmgard.se/en)

Rooms ****
Value ***
Service *****

Double rooms start at Skr1,490 (£139), including breakfast.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Guru Careers: Front of House Receptionist / Receptionist

    £21K: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Front of House Receptionist to provide th...

    Recruitment Genius: Bid / Tender Writing Executive

    £24000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: With offices in Manchester, Lon...

    Guru Careers: Marketing Executives / Marketing Communications Consultants

    Competitive (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a number of Marketi...

    Recruitment Genius: Marketing Executive

    £20000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This well established business ...

    Day In a Page

    Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

    Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

    His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
    'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

    Open letter to David Cameron

    Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
    Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

    You don't say!

    Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
    Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

    So what is Mubi?

    Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
    The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

    The hardest job in theatre?

    How to follow Kevin Spacey
    Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

    Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

    To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
    Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

    'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

    The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
    Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

    This human tragedy has been brewing for years

    EU states can't say they were not warned
    Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

    Women's sportswear

    From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
    Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

    Clinton's clothes

    Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
    NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

    Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

    A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
    How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

    How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

    Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
    From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

    The wars that come back to haunt us

    David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
    Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders