Hello, Hellsten: hotel group founder Per Hellsten on his stylish Stockholm hotels
Beautiful hotels are easy enough to come by these days; though to find a truly unique place to stay that bursts with a fabulous assortment of art and artefacts from all across the world, one must either get lucky or do some serious research. But not so in Stockholm!
Per Hellsten, founder of the immensely popular Hellsten hotels, has spent years decking out his properties with an eclectic mix of memorabilia from his own, extensive travels. And it’s paid off: Hellsten hotels are among Stockholm’s most stylish places to stay and regular music events do the rest in creating a unique vibe and local feel in each one of them. But let’s hear it from the man himself…
Both Hotel Hellsten and Hellsten Glashus are great hotels in their own right. What would you say is the biggest difference between them?
Hotel Hellsten is a classic hotel, the way we remember hotels to be in the movies and how we imagine them to have been during the last one hundred years. Hellstens Glashus is a modern boutique hotel where art is central. The Glashus is an art piece in itself where I have been able to paint walls and interiors in my favourite colours.
The Glashus is one of many cool places in Stockholm’s hippest district, Södermalm. How has the neighbourhood influenced the look and feel of the hotel?
The Glashus was an old metal mill, then a dance studio and later a theatre. It took 13 years to get the building permit to transform it into a hotel and we love the relaxed area, which our regular guests consider their base. Here you get a glimpse of famous media characters, artists, writers and business people in a surrounding of art or African masks and artefacts.
Thanks to its prime location, the Glashus is a great base to explore Södermalm and the old town, Gamla Stan, from. What is your favourite thing to do in the area?
One must is to see the stunning view over Stockholm from Monteliusvägen. Just walk through nearby Mariatorget and you’re well on the way to find the most interesting view, including the town hall, Stockholm skyline and the old town from the sunny side. Though staying at Glashus, you are already in a very interesting building with many stories attached to it…
We love how the weekly jazz concerts at Hotel Hellsten bring together hotel guests and members of the public –especially the jam sessions on the last Thursday of each month are fabulous!
We’re proud to have one of the most interesting scenes of jazz every Thursday where all kinds of jazz traditions are presented by both famous musicians and rising stars. Every second Saturday, Hotel Hellsten hosts ‘African jazz’ with tunes from the continent performed by musicians of the diaspora. And in Hellsten Glashus, singers and songwriters, famous and wannabees, take to the restaurant stage every Wednesday.
Your hotels are noticeably eclectic – every piece of furniture or work of art seems to come from another part of the world. How did the stylish interior come to be?
I have a past as an ethnographer, with my fieldwork experience of more than a decade in East Africa. Later as a PR Executive I travelled to many parts of the world and from many hotel nights I learned the art of a hotelier but also had the opportunity to collect artefacts and art. In fact, I had to create a hotel to place all the pieces I’d collected!
As a passionate traveller yourself, what would you say are the best reasons for our readers to visit Stockholm?
Stockholm is the capital of Scandinavia. Here, you can find it all: art, design, a multitude of museums, music, concerts, fashion, literature, stories, dance, people – gay, lesbian and straight, a multitude of restaurants with fantastic food, political interaction, integration, a multicultural vibe, parks and nature, an archipelago of 25,000 islands… And it’s all in a safe environment.
What does the future hold for the Hellsten brand?
I don’t believe we should change our concept. We have five exceptional town hotels in Stockholm. We also have a mountain lodge in the middle of Swedish Lapland and Hellsten Hotels are furthermore in the forest country of central Sweden, just outside the small town Nora, in the village Nyhyttan. Plus, there are international outlets such as Brazil, Finland and soon Lisbon. What lies in the future for our brand? It’s a secret…
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