The hush alerts you — a privileged calm associated with neighborhoods dotted with embassies and diplomatic residences, which is precisely where Ett Hem is situated in a tony quarter of Ostermalm in central Stockholm.
Surrounded by the embassies of Switzerland, Saudi Arabia, Brazil and Nigeria, Ett Hem (which means "a home" in Swedish) was once the home of a wealthy, cultured couple whose love for art and beauty has been perpetuated in the transformation of the four-story, puce-brick manor house into its current incarnation as luxury lodging.
Imagine, for example, an urban Swedish Downton Abbey, complete with household staff in uniform who greet and welcome guests at the cottage door that leads into a walled garden. As soon as guests step across the threshold, they enter into a rarefied realm marked by its psychic remove from the cacophony of the modern world. That's when you notice the hush that embraces you, and then you sink effortlessly into the gracious hospitality that defines Ett Hem.
Ett Hem and its walled garden.
"When the guests are happy, the staff is happy," said Helena Lundqvist, head of operations. For those guests who desire a home away from home, Ett Hem offers the verisimilitude of being a treasured houseguest at the private home of a well-heeled host — who may or may not be in residence. In the meantime, you are free to enjoy every aspect of his thoughtfully curated domicile.
Opened in 2012 by owner Jeanette Mix, Ett Hem beautifully exemplifies the essence of the late 19th-century Arts and Crafts style, particularly as manifest in the works of Swedish watercolorist Carl Larsson. Larsson's wife, Karin, was an interior designer whose rooms were filled with her collections of art and furniture from all over Sweden.
Similarly, Mix worked closely with designer Ilse Crawford, founder of Studioilse, who has created a series of public and private spaces that are marked by comfort and elegance as well as a brilliant evocation of the Swedish spirit. Logs crackle in the entry hall fireplace while guests mix cocktails in the drawing room. A guitar awaits alongside the grand piano, and books abound: massive monographs on end tables and in the library where bookshelves rise to the ornamented ceiling hung with a modernist chandelier.
As you wander the rooms, you're torn between sinking into one of plush sofas with a novel and a cocktail or heading into the kitchen to see what the chef has in his larder. At the head of the communal dining table, a chalkboard lists the week's primary ingredients: lumpfish roe, white asparagus, tarragon, halibut, spring peas, rhubarb, hazelnut, buttermilk and citrus.
A piano, books and objets d’art await guests in the drawing room.
Each of Ett Hem's 12 rooms and suites are uniquely designed with a mixture of classic and contemporary furnishings sheathed in velvet and leather, shaped in cane and wood. Original wood-burning, ceramic-tile stoves provide warmth in winter, as do sheepskin blankets and throws, and all rooms at Ett Hem come with a gleaming brass cocktail cabinet complete with bar crystal and mixers. Well-chosen books and glossy magazines are supplemented by iPads and Sonos sound systems. The cumulative effect is one of indulgent comfort complemented by paintings, sculpture and objets d'art.
In the bathrooms, freestanding marble tubs are massive enough for two, as is a marble walk-in rainforest shower. Toiletries and the house's signature fragrances are equally indulgent.
Throughout the house, a profusion of fresh flowers and house plants spill from cachepots and vases. Ett Hem's private courtyard garden is an urban sanctuary, flanked by a conservatory where guests linger over a breakfast of baked goods and fresh fruit, charcuterie and cheeses, and house-made jams and compotes.
Ett Hem's hammam, or Turkish bath, with hot-stone slab and Swedish sauna is available to all guests, and there's also a state-of-the-art gym where a personal trainer can be booked should you require motivation.
It's possible (if not probable) that you'll wish to wander beyond this luxurious retreat. If so, running paths meander through the leafy quarter of Larkstaden (Swedish for "Lark City"). Belying its bucolic charms, the neighborhood is surprisingly accessible and guests are but a leisurely 20-minute stroll from Stockholm's city center. Guests with a penchant for adventure might consider a night of "glamping" in the Stockholm archipelago at Island Lodge, where geodesic tents are elegantly outfitted with Mille Notti linens, animal-skin rugs on hardwood floors and reading chairs beside a wood-burning stove.
A member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World, Ett Hem has been the recipient of numerous accolades since its inception in 2012. SAS Airlines flies direct from various U.S. cities, and the airlines' SAS Business class makes for a seamless segue into the many pleasures of Ett Hem.
Nightly rates start at about $500; see www.slh.com/hotels/e/ett-hem.