Lydmar Hotel, Stockholm
Swedish hotelier Per Lydmar has relocated his eponymous hotel, changing it in the process from a Nineties ‘design hotel’ to something far more homely, yet equally stylish, with designs by Stylt Trampoli.
Per ‘Pelle’ Lydmar is back. And he’s grown up. Sort of. After the success of the bar-lobby combo idea that brought fame to the original Lydmar Hotel, and was exported to the Trafalgar Hilton in London, comes the new Lydmar. Expect again a hugely personable and enjoyable hospitality experience but gone is the issue of deciding whether you were ordering a drink at reception or trying to check-in with the bar staff.
The Lydmar Hotel, across a small sound in the Stockholm archipelago from the Royal Palace, sits within a historic, listed building located between the Grand Hotel and further along, the museum island of Skeppsholmen and its eponymous new hotel. The building has seen service over the centuries as merchant housing, embassies and consulates.
Service is something Lydmar understands well and the helpful staff couldn’t be more obliging; the waiter taking a seat at the table to explain the menu and take orders. Personality is another Lydmar attribute not in short supply and plenty of it has been expressed in the interiors with photography, artwork and an amazing array of natural science, archaeological and contemporary cultural artifacts from Lydmar’s own collection. A previous career as a photojournalist sees an underwater camera on a lounge shelf alongside art, travel and design books galore. The lobby stairwell doubles as a real art gallery that is curated by Thomas Nordanstad; the launch exhibition of James Nachtway’s work had the Swedish national papers swooning. “Guests are not guests of the hotel but of my home,” Lydmar explains of a hotel where every guest-room really is a different experience in supremely comfortable style.
Owners Nordström, a family real estate owner, appointed Lydmar as the independent operator to run the hotel and local structural engineers FFNS to deal with planning and architectural issues. The hotel runs alongside a former canal, which meant significant structural work was necessary. The entrance was moved from the side street to the front and part of the first floor interior removed to facilitate the lobby / gallery entrance with its sweeping staircase and leather-wrapped banister. Corridors were moved as they were “stealing” windows.
Lydmar in turn appointed Gothenburg-based Stylt Trampoli to deal with the interior design concept. The designers’ involvement from the very beginning of the project was instrumental in the success of their scheme, according to principal Erik Nissen Johansen. Stylt Trampoli have delivered a beautifully finished hotel where quality in terms of the mix of materials, workmanship and space utilisation is the consistent thread. The result is a series of guest-rooms different in conception but linked by design, decorated uniquely but each equally liveable.
“A skill of interior design is being able to predict what will work,” explains Nissen Johansen, “and this was particularly challenging at the Lydmar Hotel with so many different suppliers.” Over three hundred for a 46 room hotel. Nissen Johansen and Lydmar spent days moving furniture from room to room to get the look right. “I think we were about 85% right the first time around,” concludes Nissen Johansen.
The range of furniture is vast. From lobby armchairs made of welded car-bodies by Le Car Crash and ottomans from used car tyres, to Chesterfield sofas in lived-in leather, beige felt or burnished gold velvet. Lighting, beds (four-poster to sleigh to metal-framed), side tables and desks – almost everything is different which gives the hotel Lydmar’s sought-after feeling of home.
It is easier to describe the parts of the hotel that are common. Bathrooms are fitted in dark slate with brassware a mix of Dornbracht and more traditional designs from local brand, Mora. Sanitary-ware is by Porcelanosa of Spain and lfö who, like the Byredo toiletries, are Swedish. Beds are covered by a variety of velvet or woven leather throws usually backed with what appears to be a staid 18th Century-type print, but in fact depicts a number of cheeky sexual scenes. Light switches are traditional black Bakelite. Guestroom flooring is either smoked-oak or original light-oak parquet. Wallpaper, by Maya Romanoff, is limited to only six types, often textured and “Samsonite-proof” according to Nissen Johansen.
Being a listed building, original coving is seen throughout the property, the majority of the furniture is freestanding. Likewise much of the heating pipework is exposed. However the worn stone treads of the internal spiral staircase were re-leveled and new non-slip grooves added. These stairs lead to the roof terrace that tops a new addition, semi-enclosed by the “arc” of the two sides of the original building. This new insertion houses the ground-floor kitchen with windows, insisted upon by the local Catering Union, which overlook a small lawn. Above is the hotel restaurant and then the roof terrace. This addition was only allowed after long negotiation, because it did not alter the sight lines from the Royal Palace. For a similar reason no new stories were added to the building. In any case, the foundations could not take the additional weight. Even the air-conditioning units are in the basement to avoid changing the roof profile. Entering The Lydmar, the stairs point you clearly towards the low reception desk. Through two openings the restaurant / lounge is enticingly in view. Low seating for diners nearer the entrance is deliberate, reducing the “barrier to entry”. On busy nights things do spill out into the reception area, which could cause confusion, but given that the current audience grew up with the original Lydmar they certainly seem to be getting the reincarnation.