You really cannot find a location in Visby that is more ideal for experiencing the romance of the past. It is not possible to describe getting around Visby in terms of "blocks," as you would in a modern city. Instead, Visby is protected by a medieval-era stone ring wall, part of what you would have stayed inside during Danish raids 500 years ago.
The Medeltidshotellet is within walking distance of one of the less-populated gateways into the city, leading to the sea, where you can gaze down on the Baltic sunset, or up the hill, where you can walk through grassy parklands circling the outer walls. Or you can climb one of the turrets protecting the city and gaze down to the Baltic, watching the sunset. You can walk into the middle of town (Stortorget, the main square, past various church ruins). There is much to do and see on Visby, not all of it easy to explain except in pictures. It is a tiny, original, medieval city, and that on its own is unique.
The hotel itself is an amalgam of buildings from various eras; one of the buildings is original to the medieval period. Another building used to be a brewery, and dates from a later era. Everything inside is comfortable, giving you the impression that you are staying in someone's very well-appointed house. The colors are soothing and lovely, the walls heavy stucco, painted in blues, yellows, oranges. The whole place smells of carefully-preserved wood, but my fear that the hotel would be musty and old was unfounded. Instead it is very fresh, the rooms well-aired. You get your typical Scandinavian bedding, which means two narrow beds shoved together. This is a habit I hope this part of the world gets out of, since these beds are difficult to rationalise in this day and age. Unless you're onboard a ship from the days of yore, these narrow little beds make very little sense. Time to upgrade, Sweden.
The only difficulty, aside from Sweden's odd beds, was the shower in my room. In an attempt to modernise, many hotels these days seem to feel compelled to include the most modern shower and bath system possible. This is interpreted in Europe as "stone, with no division between the shower and the toilet." In Edinburgh, for example, I have experienced this type of shower with no shower curtain. Fortunately, the Medeltidshotellet provides a shower curtain, but basically your shower is part of the bathroom in a way that is entirely uncomfortable and dangerous for people like me, who have mobility issues. The advantage to the lack of division is that I can reach my toothpaste from inside the shower to the washbasin; the major disadvantage is that the entire bathroom becomes a puddle, the floor is wet and slippery, and no thought goes into exactly what happens when a guest takes a bad fall. This will lead to someone getting hurt someday, and hotel bathrooms in general in the world need to think this through more carefully, because the population is not getting any younger. Some form of handle or making the floor of the bathroom less slippery would be a wise move, from an insurance standpoint, it seems to me.
I was originally shown into a hot, dusty, downstairs room (#1) which looks out on the parking lot and receives the afternoon sun. Considering the cost of this stay, I was not happy with this choice, and asked to be moved, which thankfully they were able to do. I was moved to room #7 (upstairs and in the back), which is lovely, large, cheerful and airy. It looks out on Sweden's only octagonal (ruined) church, plus the hotel's well-kept garden-grounds (and one or two buildings that have been turned into city-related offices, not modern in any sense, but there is parking all around the sides of the hotel, just fyi, although you really won't be disturbed by most of it). But that part of the experience is not entirely picturesque, even though all in all, it's a beautiful location and a delightful hotel.
The breakfast room is relatively small and therefore cramped once it's inhabited by the majority of guests, around 9 a.m. each morning, the popular hour for breakfast, it seems. I was there for four days; only the weekend was busy in the breakfast room, but then, it was not the high season. I don't know what you do for a seat in the breakfast room in the summer months, particularly during July, the month all Swedish people have off for vacation.
The breakfast selection is very good, in my opinion, with many choices, including scrambled eggs, bacon, mueslis of more than one variety, yogurts, etc. I believe breakfast comes with the room.
All in all, I thought this was a charming hotel. The common area rooms are very cosy, with a fireplace for the winter-time. Furnishings are intended to evoke a medieval-era mood, and are therefore heavy and dark, hand-made locally. It is well-run, the staff are extremely attentive, and seem to love working there, which is always nice.
Aside from Sweden's weird beds and these newfangled bathrooms hotels seem to feel the need to have these days, it was a unique stay in a unique place on the planet. Would I go back again.... the location is unparalleled. You simply cannot find a hotel in Visby with a more romantic location. The hotel is set in the middle of what is essentially a spacious, well-landscaped garden, surrounded by ruins of churches and intriguing old houses and buildings. It is on the quiet, less touristy side of the town. You can walk to everything, and it's very close to the ocean and the lovely park that lies outside the old walls.
There are other hotels closer to the center of town, however; they might be noisier, but more centrally-located. I came in by car. Others might be coming in from a cruise ship. So just be aware that you're not right in the center of town, you're off to the side closer to one of the older walls, although it is definitely the beautiful, more residential side of town. Visby is unique on its own, and from what I saw of the exteriors of other hotels, the Medeltidshotellet is unique within Visby for its attempt to recreate authentic medieval-era charm. It's a little expensive, but possibly makes up for it in terms of location and staff enthusiasm. I would definitely recommend it.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Fantastic hotel in the UNESCO world heritage city of Visby, located in an authentic medieval house inside the old city wall on the beautiful island of Gotland. Historically designed interiors, yet with all modern comfort as super quality beds, minibar, safetybox, tiled bathrooms and mini-suites with bath tub. Close to Visby´s best restaurants, shops, museums and only 250 meters from the Baltic Sea. Breakfast with both warm and cold dishes is included in room rate. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Hotell Helgeand Wisby Visby, Sweden - Gotland