What comes to mind when you think of a luxury hotel? Silver service? Glittering chandeliers? A Michelin-star restaurant? Well, all these things are lovely of course… but isn’t wonderful to travel thousands of miles and arrive somewhere that makes you feel right at home? That’s where Ett Hem in Stockholm is rather different to most hotels – the name even means A Home in Swedish.
Ett Hem had been on my hotel wish list for years and seemed the perfect place to stay for my first time in Stockholm. As our transfer pulled up, there was no big glitzy entrance and glamorous foyer. Instead a large but unobtrusive door wooden door (so subtle you could nearly miss it!) concealing the boutique hotel beyond and a buzzer that only lets in hotel guests and visitors. Fittingly it’s in a residential area in Östermalm but it’s not far to walk to shops, restaurants and museums.
Outside is also a plaque declaring Ett Hem a member of Small Luxury Hotels of The World, and with only 12 guest rooms… it’s probably one of their smallest. We were immediately greeted by the hotel manager who offered to show us round the house. Each member of staff was a friendly face asking us how we were and already aware of our names … just like meeting the various members of the family.
The reception is cosy, a place to hang your coats, a sofa to relax on, newspapers to pick up and sweetie jars to dive your hands into. The designer is Ilse Crawford, well known for collaborating with Soho House, a design aesthetic that you already know I love! Ilse worked closely with owner Jeanette Mix to find beautiful antiques and gorgeous design elements and furniture to mimic the Arts and Crafts style and beautifully desirable Scandinavian look. The mixture of sumptuous fabrics, wood and metal give that feeling of luxury whilst being homely and there’s even a special signature scent that floats around the hotel.
Through the reception is the ‘living room’, the ultimate in cosy luxury where you can take a seat anywhere on one of the plush sofas, grab a book or board game from from the adjacent library or take your own cocktail or glass of wine from the honesty bar.
Or of course if this is too much trouble one of the friendly members of staff will grab that drink for you.
The dining room / library is a real beauty too – I loved that stunning light – and every element of the design looks so effortless yet you know how much work has gone into it.
From here you can walk directly into the kitchen – and unlike most hotels you’re free to walk in and out whenever you like and chat to the chefs.
Just like you might see at your grandmother’s house, there are fresh pies and cakes cooling on the window with delicious sweet smells filling the air.
There’s jars of biscuits, nuts and seeds, all totally complimentary for the guests to fill their plates with. Every day the menu is decided and a small selection of well thought out dishes using local and seasonal ingredients is displayed on a black board in the kitchen you can eat anywhere you want in the house at any time. It’s even great for solo diners who can take a seat at the kitchen table and have a chat to the chefs.
My favourite room of the house was the conservatory – a gorgeous light-filled room lined with plants, flowers, books and and elegant details. In spring, fling the doors open and sit out on the beautiful patio space on a snuggly sheep skin.
This is a place that feels so private, exclusive and under the radar, yet has won multiple awards including The Telegraph’s ‘The 50 greatest hotels in the world’, Mr & Mrs Smith Hotel Awards: Best-Dressed Hotel 2015 and The Conde Naste Traveler Gold List.
Perhaps one thing to remind you that this really is a hotel and not someone’s home is the basement area… there’s a state of the art gym open 24 hours a day and the hotel can organise personal training too. There’s also a spa area with a traditional Swedish sauna and a hot stone slab / hammam room where guests can relax after a day exploring or working out at the gym.
Ett Hem was built in 1910 as a private residence in the form of a beautiful townhouse… the bedrooms are all up stairs but easily accessible by lift. Everyone of the 12 rooms is different and individually designed and you can choose from a room, deluxe double, junior suite or suite. At around 4o square metres, our junior suite was pretty spacious and a high ceiling made it feel even more so.
Despite a four poster bed and chandelier, the bedroom still feels homely, there are piles of books everywhere, stunning stain glass windows, fresh flowers and every work of art has been hand picked. Everything is so beautiful, yet subtle – Mr S had seen pictures and not quite understood why I wanted to stay there, and why I was so insistent even when several dates we looked at were fully booked. As soon as he saw the place and felt the hospitality, he knew why.
I loved the gleaming brass side table and inside was a fully stocked fridge including local snacks and drinks. The bed was that fluffy cloud-like luxury hotel staple that you can just sink into after a long day…
A gorgeous marble-clad bathroom was complete with sparkling gold fittings and full size products by Aesop… I just love the attention to detail. It can be so frustrating when hotel expects you to share a mini bottle of shower gel between two so the full products are always much appreciated. There was also whole container of shower caps, cotton buds and dental sticks…the dream! Other little details like straightening irons as well as a hair dryer are always things that I personally appreciate.
Arriving at 5ish meant it was the perfect time for a coffee break… or fika as the Swedes call it. But apparently ‘fika’ is so much more than that… it’s a state of mind and more about making time for people to share a coffee, cake and catch up with a friend. It’s considered important to do, to sharpen your brain, as well as strengthen relationships. Of course at Ett Hem, they positively encourage the ritual of fika and there’s a daily homemade cake to enjoy with your hot beverage. They made us the most delicious thick hot chocolate which was just so moreish and was probably wrong to have before dinner yet so right…
As we left, I noticed that the garden was all lit up like a fairy tale… and the next day when we returned a fire blazed cosily outside.
The next morning I woke up very excited for breakfast…
You can sit where ever you choose for breakfast and the chefs brings it out to your personally. Both days we chose to eat in the conservatory and as we were the only people there it felt like we had our own personal chef. There’s no buffet or menu, the chef just brings out beautifully prepared granola, yogurt, fruit salad, a bakery basket, a big slab of cheese and ham and eggs prepared to your choosing. I personally love breakfast done this way.
When we returned ‘home’ from our day of exploring Stockholm, the staff greeted us like a friend or family member coming home yet with that sixth sense of knowing when you’re tired and don’t feel like talking!
Yes, there’s something very special about this place, a hotel that makes you feel like one of the family…
SE-114 27 STOCKHOLM,
PHONE: + 46 (0)8 20 05 90
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