STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN, May 24, 2014 — You might think a hotel chain honoring the seafaring exploits of Admiral Lord Nelson would be located in London or, at the very least, somewhere in England. If you did, you would be wrong.
Believe it or not, the Collector’s Hotels can be found in the heart of Stockholm in Sweden’s Gamla Stan, otherwise known as the Old Town or the “Town Between the Bridges.” Though it may seem incongruous, Gamla Stan is the ideal location for this tiny trio of boutique hotels which may just be the smallest hotel chain in the world.
The story begins in 1973 when Majlis Bengtsson and her husband, Gunnar, purchased the old Hotel Ignatius on Vastarlangatan on the island of Stadsholmen. Stockholm is a city of fourteen islands connected by bridges and, for centuries, Gamla Stan was the city.
When the Bengtsson’s bought their hotel, there was no hot water and only one bathroom in the entire building. Needless to say, it was not conducive to hosting a multitude of guests.With true entrepreneurial spirit, Majlis purchased new bed coverings by the end of the first week and raised the price of each room from 27 Swedish kroner to 29.
Guests at the Lord Nelson, Lady Hamilton or the Victory Hotels are treated to museum-hostelries featuring memorabilia in every room as well as the corridors and common areas.
Each room displays an antique model ship from which the room derives its name.
Rather than numbers, hotel floors are named after different parts of a ship; Gun Deck, Middle Deck, Poop Deck and so on. Each floor also features its own grandfather clock which must be wound by hand every day.
Located at nearby Storkyrkobrinken 5, the Lady Hamilton Hotel was once three houses that were connected to make a single building. Archaeologists date the street to about 1470 when it served as the northern entrance to the center of town.
As might be expected, the Lady Hamilton, which opened in 1980, features a feminine touch that is a unique blend of antique charm combined with modern comfort
Lady Hamilton’s 34 rooms feature wildflowers that are symbols of the counties of the country. Perhaps the most romantic of the three hotels, Lady Hamilton highlights peasant-style antiques along with the usual naval memorabilia.
Guests particularly enjoy the spa facilities in the cellar which contains a well dating to the 15th century. Majlis and Gunnar ingeniously incorporated the well into a plunge pool that allows visitors to cool off after using the sauna.
Nelson’s flagship was the HMS Victory so it is only natural for the flagship hotel to be the Victory. With 45 rooms the Victory is the largest and newest of the Bengtsson properties opening in 1985.
The building dates from 1640, and was later owned by the Lohe family at the end of the 18th century. In October, 1937 while five workers were doing renovations in the basement they discovered treasure in a corner of what is now the hotel bar, Leijonbaren.
The find was the largest silver treasure in Sweden containing more than 18,000 coins and several artifacts valued at more than 100 million SEK. Today the discovery can be seen at the Stockholm City Museum and the Royal Coin Cabinet, which is just a few blocks from the hotel.
During construction by the Bengtssons, the base of the Lion-tower, Leijontornet, which formed part of Stockholm’s original city walls in the 14th century were uncovered and preserved in what is now the elegant restaurant for the hotel. The wall is the only known remaining fragment of the city’s medieval defense system.
Leijontornet is a gourmand’s delight featuring traditional Swedish cuisine served up by Chef Gustav Otterberg. Otterberg uses farm-fresh ingredients for hearty dishes, such as venison with dried cherries, ox marrow, and crispy black pudding.
Victory also serves lighter fare in another restaurant called The Whole Beast.
Pictured outside each of the rooms are 45 sea captains, each of whom has been meticulously researched to obtain their place of honor. Double rooms also feature the captain’s wives.
The reception desk is enhanced by a love letter written by Lord Nelson to Lady Hamilton.
Rates at the Lord Hamilton begin at about $215 a night. The Lady Hamilton Hotel starts at approximately $150 a night and rooms at The Victory begin at $180.
The Collector’s Hotels are both charming and delightful and situated in Stockholm’s equally charming and delightful Old Town. This little trio of hotels is proof positive that sea-ing is believing.
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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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