Fancy hotel set to rile posh neighbours

Residents in one of Stockholm's wealthiest districts are up in arms over proposals for a bijou exclusive hotel, planned by one of the country’s most well known venture capitalists.

Harald Mix, CEO of private equity firm Altor, and his wife Jeanette, are planning to convert one of the buildings in the highly fashionable Lärkstaden area of the capital, into a high end 12 room hotel.

The new hotel, on Sköldungagatan, near the Engelbrekt Church, is housed in one of the district’s distinctive brick buildings from the early 1900s.

Property prices are among the highest in the city and house offices, as well as several embassies.

Until now however, none of them has ever been converted into a hotel, because by modern standards, the building is too small.

Mix though, is intending to capitalise on its exclusivity by charging guests up to 10,000 kronor ($ 1,500) per night, according to reports in business paper Dagens Industri.

Despite the price tag, guests will not even be able to enjoy the fruits of a fancy restaurant. The tiny hotel will have no corridors, just 12 rooms and a kitchen with a small breakfast room.

The promotional material claims that it is aimed at people who “care about their privacy and require absolute discretion.”

British interior designer Ilse Crawford is responsible for fittings in the hotel apparently designed to feel like a “home from home” for guests.

The marketing brochure doesn’t however warn of the possibility of meeting angry well-to-do neighbours, who have protested, so far in vain, to have plans for the conversion rejected.

For now though, town planners have rejected the complaints and the plans look set to go ahead.

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No visitors in ten years for Swedish tourist spot

When a Chinese billionaire commissioned the Dragon Gate hotel "to unite China and Sweden", he probably never imagined that it would still be without a single paying customer ten years on. The Local finds out more as the motorway oddity nears its tenth anniversary.

No visitors in ten years for Swedish tourist spot

If you’ve ever driven along the E4 motorway near Gävle in eastern Sweden, you may have noticed an unusually oriental-looking building looming over the roadside. Tall, grey, and surrounded by construction work, the Dragon Gate hotel is as baffling a tourist attraction as they come.

IN PICTURES: See more of the Dragon Gate

Chinese billionaire Jingchun Li, who made his fortune in mosquito repellent, bought the Hotell Älvkarlen in 2004 and commissioned a rebuild, promising it would be the hotspot “where east meets west”. To this date, only the restaurant, museum, and souvenir store have been opened to customers.

But why?

“The hotel is not ready yet, it will open next year in the spring,” Kenny Li, who works in the Dragon Gate restaurant, told The Local.

“It’s an old hotel that’s being rebuilt, and these things take a long time. The water system needs to be reinstalled, for example. It takes longer to rebuild an old hotel than to build a hotel from scratch.”

The project has been hampered by other problems too.

In 2004, it was stung by the Swedish Work Environment Authority (Arbetsmiljöverket) and ordered to pay 1.1 million kronor ($167,000) for its bad conditions for staff. In 2008, it was voted “the worst building of the year” by the Byggnads Arbetaren newspaper.

The owner of the hotel, 66-year-old “Mister Li”, has been previously registered as living in Solna, north of Stockholm, has now left the country according to the Arbetarbladet newspaper.

Dragon Gate pulled in 5.5 million kronor last year, a long stretch from the 200 million kronor invested in it so far, the paper wrote.

Staff at the hotel confirm, however, that the billionaire “is loaded with money” and is not concerned with the figures.

So what can a visitor enjoy now? There are 200 replica terracotta soldiers in the museum, an enormous Guanyin statue, and a bouncy castle that costs 20 kronor a pop. The restaurant serves Chinese food and the souvenir shop sells Chinese trinkets, including miniature terracotta men.

While it remains unknown exactly when the Dragon Gate hotel will open its doors, one thing is clear: the team has loftier aspirations than just a drizzle of bemused tourists.

The official website promises a conference centre opening in spring, and a launch of the hotel with 56 individually designed rooms. A link to “Pictures of the Rooms” promises images to be uploaded in the spring.

In the meantime, the museum, restaurant, and shop remain open to a public which has so far been reluctant to enter the Dragon Gate.

SEE ALSO:Sweden’s oddest tourist attractions

/The Local/og

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