It took the rest of the world several decades to learn to embrace the Fifties and Sixties modernism that we now associate so strongly with Scandinavia. So perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising that the prevailing style in Stockholm has had some time to evolve. These days a certain rich, classic coziness is more highly prized than any sort of minimalism, and you don’t have to look any further than the Hotel Hellsten, in north-central Stockholm, to see why.
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Hellsten is a converted 1898-vintage townhouse, centrally located, not far from the old town. It’s a vibrant location, but once you’re inside, the activity on the streets is quickly left behind. The bar’s rich wood and brick backdrop is livened by artifacts collected by the owner, an anthropologist, on travels throughout Asia and Africa, and the prevailing atmosphere at the Hellsten is one of genteel calm, rather than the nightclub ambience sought by so many design hotels.
Once upstairs you’ll feel comfortably sequestered from city life, in rooms that mix bold colors with heavy antique woodwork and an assortment of interesting objects. It’s the sort of place that feels curated, rather than designed, which allows the hotel’s personality (or perhaps that of the owner) to shine through, rather than simply serving to build some designer’s portfolio. In the end it feels like a hotel, not a furniture catalog, which is rather as it should be.