The Stora Hotellet Umeå (Grand Hotel Umeå) in northern Sweden takes every Scandinavian design principle you’ve ever heard of and throws them on the fire with a flamboyant flourish and a maniacal laugh. Design agency Stylt Trampoli are known for doing things their own way, and they haven’t disappointed with this lavish two-year renovation of what was originally the port city’s Seaman’s Mission, built on the docks in 1895. Umeå, as one of this year’s two European Capital of Culture cities, has undergone major regeneration in the run-up to 2014, and no effort or expense has been spared bringing the building back to life in spectacular fashion. The hospitality industry is certainly on board, and the venue has just been named Best Newcomer in the World at the World Boutique Hotel Awards.
Where Scandi design principles have been abandoned, the area’s renowned fairytale mysticism has been employed to fine effect. Stylt Trampoli has played on the building’s maritime heritage and location, weaving nautical motifs such as seashells, captains hats, portholes and fishing nets into the design, as well as some unexpected creatures of the deep that extend their tentacles on wall murals and even burst into room through illusory holes ripped in the wallpaper. Equally brave was the decision to introduce an Edwardian style to the hotel décor, with plush, richly-coloured velveteen upholstery, huge heavy drapes, and tasselled lampshades blended with contemporary furniture. If you can handle the sensory assault, this is a Grand Hotel indeed.