The Elite chain has a very good reputation in Sweden. Their Gothenburg hotel near the Cathedral is rumored to be the city's best one. So heading to Gävle, I decided to give it a chance, as I normally don't travel much in my own country.
I had booked a superior room, knowing that hotel rooms in Sweden are usually rather 'petite' and I didn't want to spend the night in a closet.
The hotel is very conveniently located about 100 m from the train station and the old building has been carefully renovated. When I got to my room, I felt a first tinge of disappointment. Top floor, low ceiling under the tilted roof, but worst of all, it was freezing cold. I tried to open the radiators, but they were locked and barely warm. The room, as so often in Sweden, had no bath tub and thus nowhere to soak and re-heat.
I headed back down to reception to ask for help. Maybe I had missed something, some magic lever to increase the temperature in my room? After all, this is THE ultimate hotel chain in Sweden. Clearly they wouldn't let their customers freeze?
The lady in reception first advised me to check the floor heating in the bathroom. If it was set to max (it was at 50% when I later checked), then cold air would be pumped into the room… So to make the room warmer, I would have to lower the temperature of the only heating source? I was skeptical.
After checking that lever, I was offered to switch to another room, with bath tub. Sadly, that room was even more cold, with no radiator in sight, but a balcony with two icy windowed doors. Oh well, I abandoned my room to go have dinner, and that was - sadly - another disappointment, as my risotto was cold (surprise?), undercooked (we're not just talking al dente) and sweet! I've had plenty of risottos, and I pride myself in making a darn good one, but sweet, and not just a hint of sweet, but it felt (I know how ridiculous this sounds) like the chef had mistaken sugar for salt. It was the only vegetarian option and I was both hungry and cold. Luckily, the Italian wine was good and provided, particularly glass two, some warmth.
Back in my room, I soaked in the bath tub and read a book until it was time for bed. I did sleep well, but froze frequently, despite using both duvets to keep warm.
This morning I woke up in a cold room, freezing, and with a cold, sneezing, coughing and my voice with that 'edge' you just don't want when you have to speak for three hours at a seminar.
The shower was even worse. In order to save more money (and the environment) the hotel ads filters to the shower heads and the drizzle that is left just runs straight down. I literally had to back into the wall to get wet and cleaned up. Or hold the shower head next to the body part I'd want to get wet.
The breakfast buffet was good, with your typical Swedish treats, at least that was fine.
In closing, I think it's great when hotels look out for the environment, and I'm always the first to hang up my towel again for reuse (whether the hotel appreciates that gesture or not), but from a luxury hotel that prides itself in said luxury, I expect individualized room temperature, not a standard 18 degrees centralized heating, I want my shower to allow me to wash my hair without leaving shampoo suds behind. After all, isn't that why we pay a premium?
I would've gladly given this hotel three stars for the help in switching rooms, although the reason was not what a good one. But waking up sick is just not acceptable, not when you have to work and perform for a large crowd.
The Elite is just like a pricy Scandic Hotel with thicker towels, leaving at least this guest to battle with another common cold as a souvenir. I don't enjoy writing negative reviews and I'm not one to give one or two star reviews. But as a self-employed consultant I just can't afford to put my health on the line for a hotel that goes overboard on savings on the energy bill!
The reception had offered me an electric radiator, but by the time I got out of the tub I was too tired to go downstairs and ask for it. Besides, these things really pack a wallop on your energy bill, which further defies the logic of their money saving frenzy. Could it be that this old building simply is too big for such a pricy hotel? Just wondering...
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