Hotel Reisen: A newly renovated historical gem in Stockholm’s Old Town
By Malin Norman | Photos: Hôtel Reisen
Hôtel Reisen is Stockholm’s only five-star hotel in the Old Town. For more than 200 years, this fabulous hotel has welcomed guests from near and far. Recently, it has undergone a careful renovation, modernising rooms and facilities whilst keeping the historic charm.
Located on the scenic waterfront in the heart of the Old Town, Hôtel Reisen is one of Stockholm’s great landmarks, just around the corner from the Royal Palace and a short walk from the ferry to Djurgården. “The location is unbeatable, bang in the middle of Sweden’s most visited area, the Old Town,” says Tomas Tegfors, general manager of Hôtel Reisen. “In the mornings, you can have a coffee on our terrace, watch the sun rise and see the city come to life, with lots of locals passing by on their way to work.”
Since October 2021, five-star Hôtel Reisen has been part of The Unbound Collection by Hyatt, joining a collection of other unforgettable independent hotels with a unique story to tell, such as Hôtel du Louvre in Paris and Great Scotland Yard Hotel in London. As one of Stockholm’s oldest hotels, Hôtel Reisen certainly has an intriguing history.
Coffee house, guest house and drinking den
The foundation of the hotel dates back to 1617, when Gustavus Adolphus was King of Sweden. But the building has served many functions since then, including being a coffee house run by Dutchman Fredrik Reiss (from whom the hotel’s name originates), and a guest house for more than 200 years. It has also been a popular drinking den and hangout for some of the most prominent poets and writers in European history, including Carl Michael Bellman and Fritiof Nilsson Piraten. Since 1819, it has been known as Hôtel Reisen.
The famous landmark is larger than the front façade suggests; it stretches further into the Old Town and includes no less than seven floors. In the basement, which houses a spa, you can see handmade bricks and cross vaults, part of the old city walls of Stockholm from the 1690s. Women used to work on the construction site, carrying the bricks, and one of the workers even left her footprint (size 37) in one of the stones.
There is more fascinating history on display. The meeting room Chambré Brahe features the original saloon interior from steamship S/S Per Brahe built in 1908, which was in service Stockholm-Åbo during the 1940s and 1950s. The hotel’s old-style cocktail bar, Bar Brahe, is named after this same steamship and pays tribute to its eclectic roots in its interior design, including sloping floorboards.
Careful renovation maintains historic charm
You will certainly sense the past, but Hôtel Reisen is not just about history. The hotel has undergone a careful renovation – completed last year – of all guest rooms and public facilities. It offers a modern, comfortable setting for its guests, whilst maintaining some of the historic charm. The interior is welcoming and classic, not too extravagant, and brings in some of the colours of the picturesque Old Town.
In the rooms with a view over the inlet to Stockholm you will find binoculars and a map with illustrations of what you can see from the window – the National Museum or the cliffs of Södermalm, for instance. Other rooms overlook the charming narrow alleys in Old Town. Six of the rooms have a balcony with a view of the rooftops, giving a sense of being a character in the children’s books Karlsson-on-the-Roof (Karlsson På Taket) by Astrid Lindgren. And some rooms even have their own bathtub and sauna.
The spa in the basement has also had a facelift, now with a relaxing lounge area, a large sauna and a cold-water pool under the cross vaults, like a mysterious forest pond. Here you can have a real Swedish experience with a cold bath and warm up again afterwards in the sauna. There is also a gym open 24/7 and a room for massage treatments, perfect after a day spent discovering Stockholm.
Restaurant Reiss serves classic Swedish dishes with seasonal flavours and a modern twist. And Bar Reiss, with a view over Skeppsholmen, is a popular hangout amongst locals for a drink after work. Bar Brahe is also a must-visit, with craft cocktails, nibbles and elements of live music – slated to reopen in September with a fresh, new concept. “We’re always trying to offer something new and special to our guests, whether it’s in the form of nice details in the rooms or revamped cocktail menus in the bars,” concludes Tegfors. “Our motto is to enrich our guests’ experience with collectable memories, every day, every stay, always. Ultimately, we’re just an instrument in their discovery of the beautiful city of Stockholm.”
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