On the roof of Gothenburg’s newest hotel, two hives of bees are busy processing the nectar from the late summer flowers 25 stories below. They were installed by executive chef Krister Dahl, who wants their honey for his breakfast recipes and home-brewed ale. His new restaurant has already been voted Sweden’s best by Dagens Industri, the business daily, and he is focused on gaining his first Michelin star.
The twin Gothia Towers have been a feature of the city skyline since 2001. Since then, an additional five-star “hotel within a hotel” has also been added atop the second tower; the Upper House includes a spa, luxury suites and a glass-bottomed outdoor pool that juts vertiginously beyond the 19th floor. But in December, a third tower will open, elevating the hotel into the elite club of Europe’s five largest, with 1,200 rooms.
Even in a country that has seen Europe’s strongest economic growth since the 2008 crash, this might seem a big bet. But bees or no bees, the hotel is buzzing.
“I would say it’s not a gamble, but high ambition,” says the hotel’s new chief executive Daniel Stenbäck, of the 1.2bn SEK ($158m) invested in the new tower. “We are aiming to be one of the main venues in Europe for conventions and corporate events – but with a distinct Scandinavian touch.”
The hotel stands at the head of Gothenburg’s Evenemangstråket, or events thoroughfare, along which a football stadium, rock concert hall, a giant science centre, cinema multiplex and Scandinavia’s largest amusement park are all within walking distance. This unique concentration of venues inside the city means it comes alive when thronged with large numbers of people; the hotel (the third-largest in Scandinavia) is actually an integral part of the Swedish Exhibition and Congress Centre, which attracts a million visitors every year.