If you’re fond of historical hotels, you’re in for a treat! In this post, I’m taking you to the charming city of Helsingborg in Southern Sweden, where a grand old hotel is to be found: Clarion Grand Hotel. Below my review, you’ll find an interview with General Manager, Anna Eklund. Let’s check in, shall we?
On a freezing cold but beautiful December afternoon, I had the pleasure of getting on board the ferry from Helsingør in Denmark to Helsingborg in Sweden: a 20-minute fare (more or less), oozing of childhood memories of summer vacations by the sea. Yes, I grew up close to Helsingør, so this route holds quite a special place in my heart.
Once you get off, Helsingborg lies by your feet, ready for you to explore and enjoy. The Swedes always nail it when it comes to infrastructure and city landscapes. Beautiful big buildings, lots of space and green squares – that’s definitely characterizing for Helsingborg as it is to its many sister cities. But this isn’t a guide to Helsingborg as such, it’s a peek behind the facade of the city’s oldest hotel; the Clarion Grand Hotel. Nestling just a few hundred meters from the harbour, it’s easy to get to, and there are plenty of parking facilities right on front of the hotel as well.
Built in 1920, the building was originally set out to house a bank, but it quickly developed into a hotel. Perhaps because it had simply always been like that? In the 19th Century and many years before the bank building was erected, a guest house was located on the very same spot. Travelers came here by horse and carriages to check in for a few days of relaxation. Well, some things never change. Up through the 20th Century, the Grand Hotel served as a prominent meeting point for decadent travelers, business men and hedonists. A little more than a decade ago, it became a member of the Nordic Choice Hotels family, but it has succeeded in keeping its uniqueness and old world charm. The highlight for me, personally, was the preservation of the original interior, which is especially visible in the restaurant and bar area. Mahogany panels, chandeliers and high ceilings – the details here serve as a window to the past.
Housing 158 rooms, Clarion Grand lives up to its name. It feels more intimate than it is, perhaps due to its original interior and dark wooden atmosphere. The concept of ‘hygge’ might be Danish, but it certainly applies here, too.
Enter the revolving doors to the lobby and turn right – you’ll reach Kitchen & Table, which is the heart child of famous Swedish Chef Marcus Samuelsson. He playfully combines Scandinavian flavors with edgy New York’er vibes, and it works! Perhaps because they’re both – in its very essence – cool, calm and collected. The place is also full to the brim, in weekends especially. Grab a drink before dinner in the art deco-inspired bar (they have the biggest gin selection in town!) or go straight for the mouth-watering dishes. Whatever you do, make sure to reserve a table in advance! The hearty, organic breakfast buffet is very popular, so you better not arrive after 9AM. But then again… the homemade waffles are seriously worth the wait!
Clarion’s fresh, modern signature style is of course embedded throughout the hotel, and I actually liked it! I’m not usually a big fan of chain hotels, but Clarion’s subtle approach makes it homely and cosy. The original 1920’s elevator in the hotel is big enough to house a whole family, and there’s even a lounge chair and a few old suitcases in there to keep you company.
The room categories range from Moderate and Standard to Superior and Deluxe. There are also a few suites available (if you need extra space) and a family room category if you’re traveling with your little ones. I checked in to a Superior Double room with a wonderful view of the square and buzzing city life. The window sill was big enough to sit and take it all in – with a glass of champagne, of course. Cause that’s how it’s done here at Clarion Grand Hotel. It’s laid-back and classy at the same time. Everyone’s welcome here – and everyone feels at home. At least, that’s how I felt when checking out after 24 rejuvenating hours. As I waved goodbye to the friendly receptionist, I was already secretly planning my return.
It’s the perfect little getaway!
For more information about Clarion Grand Hotel, click here.
Beauty spa: Yes
The hotel is cash-free meaning you can only pay by card
Interview with Anna Eklund, General Manager of Clarion Grand Hotel
Regitse: “Clarion Grand Hotel is a hotel with a lot of history – and you feel that when entering the lobby! How old is the hotel exactly? And did the building always serve as a hotel?”
Anna: “The building was built in 1920 and was first thought out to be a bank. With that said, even in the 1800s we had a lot of travellers coming with horse and carriage to stay in a public house that was located on the same spot where the Clarion Grand Hotel is today.”
Regitse: “Clarion Grand Hotel is part of Nordic Choice Hotels – one of the largest hotel companies in Scandinavia, currently operating around 190 hotels. How do you find your own unique voice being part of a chain this big? Do you have your own procedures?”
Anna: “We are very happy to be part of Nordic Choice Hotels where each hotel has the ability to shape itself on its own within the city that they are located in. Here, at Clarion Grand Hotel, we pride ourselves in having a fusion between the older traditions and incorporating it into today. This becomes clear when you stay in one of our rooms, or visit the bar in the lobby level, where we have over 170 different types of the very traditional drink Gin & Tonic. Traditional timeless design with a touch of today.”
Regitse: “What’s your approach to digitalization in hospitality? Will you work with self-check in, in the future – or other procedures like this?”
Anna: “Self-check in is something that we have in many of our sister hotels around the Nordic Countries and this will be rolled out to us as well within a near future. Today we have the option of having your mobile key to the room in the application.”
Regitse: “Which social media channels are the most important ones for Clarion Grand Hotel? Are you creating you content in-house or are you outsourcing to an agency?”
Anna: “We have a central marketing team, however all our hotels have their own marketing resource that is in charge to keep the social media of the hotel alive and informative. For us, the most important channels are Facebook and Tripadvisor.”
Regitse: “What does the future look like at Clarion Grand Hotel? Are you working on new initiatives we should know about?”
Anna: “We have for the past five years renovated all parts of our hotel, and now we feel ready to meet the new decade where we will continue our strong CSR-work. This is something we work very hard with, both through a social and environmental standpoint and I am proud to say that this lead to us being a nominée to the “We-Care Hotel of the Year” award in 2019.”
The Copenhagen Traveler was invited by Clarion Grand Hotel, but all opinions are, as always, my own.