Creating a charming, memorable and distinctive space just by the Ume River in the humble town of Umeå, yet it’s not the main feat, but Stora Hotellet does so with effortless elegance. It’s about 10 minutes from the airport by cab and you have the city center outside the doorstep, which consists of a few independent shops, cafes and cycle lanes surrounded by classic wooden houses in bleached colors. The beautiful façade of the historic hotel initiates the feeling of excitement and secluded luxury and includes the historic hospitality that the hotel seeks to give to its guests. The cobbled streets have a timeless feel, and at night, the Neo-Gothic red brick church lights up and glance off the river. It’s easy to imagine a time when barges floated down the river, transporting exotic goods to Scandinavia’s northern premier port. The interior of Stora Hotellet is rather unique, it feels like you step back in time and you enter a royal ship on the sea, filled with treasures and bizarre characters. The hotel is filled with hidden stories in each design object and the designer really mastered the balance between renewing yet retaining the original heritage. The rooms are fantastically individual, named for sailor’s preoccupations with mystically ripped wallpaper, ship inspired details and leather and velvet upholstery. The sense of opulence is translated throughout all the rooms, each of the categories has a bespoke feature, such as a private sauna or the cosy “berths” where you sleep in generously proportioned bunk beds, high up under the eaves of the hotel. The dining experience at the hotels restaurant Gotthard’s Krog named after the hotels first General Manager, is equally unique; the menu appeared as a letter from the captain, folded in a leather pouch with a rather interesting choice of only 4/5 dishes on each course. Service here is friendly and genuine, with staff providing elegant hospitality with the kind of welcoming attitude that comes only with real job satisfaction.