Villa Fridhem, a hotel and conference centre near Norrköping, was once a royal residence. Built in 1909 for Prince Carl, the imposing building was designed by Ferdinand Boberg, one of Sweden’s foremost architects. The royals, however, are long departed, though their images are everywhere, and Villa Fridhem has been a hotel since 1990. Guest rooms are in a modern annex, which also includes a spa centre with an indoor pool. The dining room and conference facilities are in the main building. Villa Fridhem can be roughly translated as Villa Peaceful. It’s an apt description as the hotel is located in beautiful countryside with a view south from the dining room and adjoining lounge over the formal gardens to the broad stretch of water that runs from Norrköping to the Baltic Sea.
The hotel has a non-smoking policy, which is set out in no uncertain terms in the hotel literature. Anyone who has smoked in their room, I read, could expect a minimum fine of 2000 kronor, plus whatever more it cost to sanitize the room. That didn’t worry me as I don’t smoke, but I was surprised by the guest-threatening tone adopted – but not all guests, only those who can read Swedish. The English translation, I noticed, makes no mention of the Draconian punishment awaiting the unwary smoker. I also read in the hotel lit that I could breathalyse myself, should I feel the inclination, with something called a Dräger 3000. The apparatus could be borrowed at the reception. I wondered what sort of debauched smoking and drinking sprees my fellow guests, and presumably rowdy conference delegates unwinding after a long day of absorbing the corporate message, got up to in Villa Peaceful. There was no mention of the self-breathalysing in the English translation.
My wife and I stayed two nights. I tried to book over the Internet but got confused about the various packets and weekends (including a ‘middle-of-the-week weekend’) on offer. I rang instead and the helpful and charming receptionist put together a special packet just for us. The price seemed fair. We could use the spa and pool, but afternoon tea was not included. The latter starts at 13.00 hrs, incidentally. Not what I would call teatime, but things can be different in Sweden – like the young waiter in the dining room. He asked politely if I had enjoyed the main course. I had, and gave him a Little Jack Horner impression, pointing at my very empty plate. A stuffy English or French waiter would have left it at that, but not the young Swede. He mimed picking up the plate and licking it clean. We both laughed. I love the Swedes!
I can thoroughly recommend Villa Fridhem. The staff were all very friendly and helpful. We left hoping to return some day. Perhaps next time I’ll borrow the Dräger 3000 and give it a good blow.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Villa Fridhem located apx 10 min north of Norrkoping in pristine surroundings overlooking the bay. The main building was built in 1909 as summer mansion for Prince Carl of Sweden and his family who used the property until 1954. We offer 53 delightful rooms with private bathrooms. Full service restaurant and bar. Indoor pool and sauna as well as spa-treatments are available. Welcome! ... more less
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