Story and photos by Bo Zaunders

Haymarket Facade

INTO THE FUTURE
AND BACK TO THE ROARING TWENTIES

Haymarket by Scandic

Enter this new Stockholm hotel and you immediately get a whiff of an era long gone.

From the extravagant art deco staircase and the fifty or so black-and-white  movie screens to the crystal chandelier by Samuel Wilkinson for the  lobby and the brightly lit kitchen on the balcony, everything exudes an aura of Hollywood, the Jazz Age, and the elegance of the Roaring  Twenties. Meanwhile, the hotel is an ultra-modern, 21st century  phenomenon.

Haymarket Lobby

In a way it all began with Paul Urbanus Bergström, a successful  businessman who was once a dominating force in and around Hötorget, the  market square in central Stockholm. In the early 1920s, he built a  department store at Hötorget, and named it PUB after his initials. As it happened, among his many employees was a young girl named Greta  Gustafsson, who worked in the millenary department and posed for him as a hat model, and who was later to become one of the world’s most  glamorous movie stars - better known as Greta Garbo.

Now PUB is gone, converted into the Scandic Hotel Haymarket. All the same,  PUB’s early days are still vibrantly alive. Not surprisingly, the  hotel’s American brasserie is called Paul, and its wellness-oriented  café is named... you guessed it...  Greta’s.

view from Haymarket

We came here on a snowy afternoon in mid-January, not exactly the  recommended time to visit the Swedish capital. Still there was an air of festivity. The Haymarket is a lively spot to begin with. Across from  the hotel lay the Royal Concert Hall, its tall columns still dressed for Christmas, and to the south you could see Filmstaden Sergel, one of the largest multiscreen cinemas in Stockholm. And, despite the cold, a few fruit and vegetable vendors had set up their wares in the market  square, in brilliantly illuminated stands.

Following our arrival I met with Daniel Herrmansson, the Food and Beverage  Manager of the hotel. “Why Haymarket,” I wondered. “Why not call it  Hötorget? His answer was short and to the point: “Because, outside  Scandinavia, no one knows how to pronounce Hötorget.

Which led to a chat about the international flavor of the place. Take Paul”s, for instance, a brasserie inspired by New York in the twenties,  claiming to serve “decadent food” from both sides of the Atlantic.  Checking the menu, I noted that it commenced with a listing of martinis  such as Queen Elisabeth, Rockefeller, and Tuxedo #2. The list even had a small preface, enquiring whether you were a dilettante who preferred  your martini stirred, or the reserved type who took it extra dry, or  maybe a lounger who liked it dirty.

Haymarket Greta's

Asked about what the Rockefeller was all about, Daniel informed me that it  contained Tanqueray 10, Noilly Prat, and an oyster - but no hot sauce,  so no similarity to oyster shooters in Annapolis, Maryland.

Paul’s is located upstairs near the lobby, and downstairs is Greta’s and Americain, a cocktail bar with a Caribbean touch.

As for Greta’s, apart from focus on healthy food, it boasted everything from morning coffee to champagne in the evening.

Haymarket Old Film Projector

Passing by Americain, I noticed a small piano nearby. For “ragtime jazz in the evening”, explained Daniel. Then, next to the entrance stood a giant  movie projector, surely, one of the first ever in existence. As Daniel  put it, it’s “all the twenties with a modern twist”.

Haymarket Room Detail

Our room did little to detract from this notion. There was Garbo, in a row  of black-and-white photos above the bed, one of which featured a  Magritte-style hat suspended in empty space. I particularly liked the  bold star-like art deco pattern on the wardrobe, a freestanding piece of furniture that also contained the in-room safe, as well as a  refrigerator with a mini-bar.

And  then there was an old record player, along with a few records, such as  the all-time greatest hits by Roy Orbison, Mozart”s symphony #36, and  Earl Bostic playing sweet tunes of the roaring twenties.

Given the prominent role Greta Garbo plays in this remarkable hotel, perhaps  its “Do-not-disturb”  signs ought to be replaced by the quote most  associated with her in the public imagination “I want to be alone” €

 

 

 

© April 2018 LuxuryWeb Magazine. All rights reserved.

 

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