Stay the night: Elite Plaza, Göteborg

Bicky Chakraborty is something of a phenomenon among Swedish hoteliers. In 1966 he left India to study social sciences at Stockholm University, but with a hope of somehow getting into showbiz. Instead, Bicky ended up creating the largest boutique hotel chain in Scandinavia. There are now 18 Elite Hotels in Sweden, all conversions of existing buildings. The flamboyant showman also has plans for 50 English pubs, known as The Bishop's Arms, across the country.

The Elite Plaza in Göteborg has been fashioned out of a granite block of 19th-century insurance offices on Västra Hamngatan, the city's main thoroughfare. The location is perfect if you've come to do business, visit the opera, or attend Ullevi Stadium.

On the ground floor, the designers Lars Helling and Christer Svensson have retained all the original features: English mosaic floors, Italian marble columns, stuccoed ceilings with gold-leafed decoration and huge chandeliers. Back in 1889 the Svea Fire & Life Insurance Company built themselves a veritable temple.

The main changes to the public areas are the Swea Hof restaurant in what was originally an open courtyard, a large collection of modern art on the walls and a big picture of Bicky Chakraborty inviting you in.

The reception staff seem to speak every language under the sun. They stand behind a long, modern, glass desk in what was originally the public lobby of Svea Insurance. Their backdrop is an impressive array of 13 works by the American-Bulgarian artist Christo, personally chosen by Mr Chakraborty.

The bedrooms

At first sight you wouldn't think there are 143 rooms across the five floors. The conversion job has kept everything very cosy. The single rooms are small and basic (and lacking in wardrobes) but the superior rooms and junior suites are stylish, recalling the best work of designer Olga Polizzi, with their broad beds, large headboards, flat-screen TVs that act as room dividers, original artwork and marble bathrooms.

Mr Chakraborty worked with Helling and Svensson to bring the dark wood panelling used to such good effect in the Plaza bar to the doors and even the ceilings of the larger bedrooms. Wireless internet access is free and the turn-down service adds a miniature of brandy to the ubiquitous bedside chocolate, something that can come in handy in the Swedish winter.

Toiletries in the deluxe rooms and suites are currently by Lavin. Suppliers are changed three or four times a year. In cheaper rooms the toiletries are a brand produced especially for Elite Hotels.

The food and drink

The Plaza bar opposite reception is open all day and has gone for a clubland feel with wood panelling, dark leather armchairs, burgundy carpets, low-level table lighting and chandeliers. This is the most comfortable public area in the hotel, especially on a cold night. There is a huge array of whiskies, the most expensive of which is the Swedish Mackmyra 02 Special. In the basement, The Bishop's Arms pub is convincing in the British spit-and-sawdust style with a few English touches – pitchfork, model Spitfire, and bogus football trophies.

The selection of beers runs to nearly 100, of which half are imported from England. The Swea Hof restaurant, leading off from the Plaza bar, is a clever use of space; a narrow courtyard sealed off three floors up by a metal and glass canopy, while huge white lampshades make the dining area seem less vertiginous. The food was recently described in a local paper as "criminally good". The lobster soup, seafood platter, and reindeer leg are all excellent. Service at breakfast is sluggish, but impeccable in the evening. The only drawback is the over-generous use of marble on the walls and floor of the restaurant which makes for over-lively acoustics. Allow SKr460-690 (£38-£58) for three courses, excluding wine.

The extras

There is a small gym with sauna. Göteborg's splendid neo-classical cathedral sits across on the other side of Västra Hamngatan from the hotel, and the broad Hamn canal is just round the corner. There is a pleasant walk along its banks to Gustav Adolfs Torg, the historic centre of the old city, containing a statue in honour of its founder, King Gustav II Adolf – the great general Gustavus Adolphus.

The access

There are no rooms adapted for wheelchair access but the modern glass lift takes wheelchairs, and ramps will be laid for the front steps. Children are welcome: one child aged between two and 12 years old sleeps free in the parents' room. Additional children pay SKr200 (£17) each. The question of pets is handled on a case-by-case basis.

The bill

Doubles start at SKr1,250 (£105) per night and junior suites at SKr2,300 (£194), including breakfast.

The address

Elite Plaza, Västra Hamngatan 3, 404 22 Göteborg, Sweden (00 46 31 720 40 00;

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Ashdown Group: Technical IT Manager - North London - Growing business

    £40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A growing business that has been ope...

    Recruitment Genius: Technical Supervisor

    £24800 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As one of London's leading Muse...

    Recruitment Genius: Centre Manager

    £14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

    Guru Careers: Accountant

    £28 - 45k (DOE): Guru Careers: An Accountant is needed to take control of the ...

    Day In a Page

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before