GRYTHYTTAN, SWEDEN February 15, 2014 – One of the great joys of travel is the serendipitous magic of finding a destination that have been largely overlooked by the guidebooks. These “treasures of discovery” are among the greatest joys of travel. Grythyttan, Sweden is one of those indefinable little places because it is quite literally “the town that became a hotel,” and therein lies its charm.
Grythyttan, Sweden, located approximately 200-miles NW of Stockholm, became a ghost town until the mid-1960s.
Once a thriving community, in the 17th century travelers going to and from Stockholm, Grythyttan was oas a midpoint along the road to the silver mines in the region. It was known as an “up-and-down” village because travelers would stop on their way up from Stockholm or on the way back down to stable their horses and rest for the night. The result, Grythyttan’s Gästgivaregård (roughly translated to mean “guest house”) became a popular inn that became known throughout the country.
By the end of the 1960s, the inn was in such a state of disrepair that it was scheduled for demolition until the local heritage society intervened at the 11th hour. Enter a flamboyant, 26-year old, antique dealer named Carl Jan Granqvist and the reputation of Grythyttan quickly returned to its former grandeur.
In the spring of 1973, Grandqvist reopened the hostelry comprised of 22 buildings with 60 rooms and suites. Each was exquisitely filled with antique furniture and appointed with artwork created by local craftsmen.
Even the inn’s former dungeon was converted into a candlelit wine and cheese cellar.
Despite a population of less than 1,000 residents Grythyttan has more or less returned to a semblance of its past thanks to the innovations of Grandqvist and the patronage of the pop singing group ABBA during the 1980s. Today Grythyttan is home to the chef and restaurant management school Gyrthyttan School of Hospitality, Culinary Arts & Meal Science.
For 25-years Grandqvist managed the property with such style and flair that the town soon became the “inn” place to go for a relaxing respite for the rich and famous. With his well-deserved reputation as one of Sweden’s finest gourmands and wine connoisseurs, the flashy entrepreneur frequently entertained guests during summer months with free chamber music concerts at his villa just outside of town.
To accomplish this, Grandqvist provided complimentary accommodations to members of the Stockholm Philharmonic who performed in the evenings for guests and villagers alike.
Grythyttan is roughly shaped like a large roundabout with roads radiating like the spokes of a wheel from the central section of town into other areas of the region. The main inn is situated on a wide spot along one of the country roads leading into town. Rooms are scattered throughout the property in more than twenty buildings which were once stables, haylofts, blacksmith shops or any one of a variety of buildings that made the town prosperous.
Though Carl Jan Grandqvist no longer adds his personal touch to Grythyttan’s Gästgivaregård, his personality survives in this tiny Swedish village that became a hotel.
Here’s a tip. Arrive in mid-afternoon. Enjoy the spa. Wine and dine in elegance. Spend the night. Savor the magic.
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About the Author: Bob Taylor is a veteran writer who has traveled throughout the world. Taylor was an award winning television producer/reporter/anchor before focusing on writing about international events, people and cultures around the globe. He is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com).
His goal is to visit 100 countries or more during his lifetime.
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