Once again, we have to thank our friends at World Luxury Hotel Awards, who always come through for us with the best recommendations! The moment we found out that Residence Perseus was based in Gamla Stan, also known as Stockholm’s Old Town, our hearts skipped a beat. For those of you who love meandering around cobbled roads whilst passing by buzzing restaurants and feeling as though you’ve stepped back in time, you’ll want to put Gamla Stan at the top of your list.
Residence Perseus scooped up the awards for Country Winner for Best Luxury Serviced Apartment and Best Luxury Small Hotel at the World Luxury Hotel Awards ceremony in St. Moritz last December. These accolades can be credited to the masterminds behind the residence: Managing Director Theresa Windesjö and Manager Hanna Rönnlöf. Also, we can’t go without a special mention to the incredibly cute pet pooch Myra, a Chihuahua-Pomeranian mix!
You can easily spend hours pottering in and out of the postcard-perfect lanes, popping into boutique stores or simply treating yourself to a glass of wine or Glogg, if you happen to be visiting during the holiday seasons like Pra was! It’s like a little time bubble and as soon as you see a main road, you will feel the need to scurry back into the cosy embrace of the old part of town.
Residence Perseus is located down one of those marvelous cobbled lanes, lit by candlelight shining through the windows of historic homes in the dark winter hours, making you feel as though you’ve zoomed back into the days of Charles Dickens. It’s literally just 250 metres from the Royal Palace and if you’re up for a brisk 20-25 minute walk, you can get yourself to the hipster neighbourhood Sodermalm.
First things first. We do have to take a moment to point out that when you arrive, it’s not a case of a taxi whisking you right up to the front door. Gamla Stan is a tricky place to drive in as parts of it are completely pedestrianised. The lane leading to Residence Perseus is one of the narrow ones built for a horse and carriage, not a modern day car, so be prepared to either haul your suitcase over the cobblestone or find someone to do it for you!
Once you arrive at the residence, it’s also good to know that there isn’t a lift in the building so you will get an extra bit of a full body workout! (And on that note, a huge thanks to Hanna and her colleague for manhandling my 30 kg suitcase.)
But the slight inconvenience of not having door-to-door service or trekking up a flight or two of stairs is a small price to pay for living in the heart of it all!
Residence Perseus is not luxury as we might know it traditionally with room service, a spa, and staff waiting to assist you at every turn and call. It is, quite simply, a home away from home. These are private flats so there’s no reception or typical lobby as you enter into the historic building. You’ll simply walk down the stone steps to the office/apartment where someone will be waiting to greet you – in my case, the happy and smiling Hanna.
I was fortunate enough to be placed in the Grace Apartment, a two bed/one bath residence which can accommodate up to four people and was luxuriously large for little ol’ Pra!
Grace is spacious with great simplistic colour schemes throughout and polished pine flooring. The high ceilings open up the apartment even more and the large windows in the living area offer a priceless view overlooking the rooftops of Gamla Stan, which you will find yourself admiring with a smile, glass of vino in hand. In this room, an open floor plan is utilised and the fully equipped kitchen and dining table on one side flow seamlessly into a cosy sitting area on the other.
When I arrived, there was a complimentary bottle of bubbles waiting for me on the 6-seater dining table. Over in the kitchen, you’ll find a kettle, coffee machine, IKEA (of course!) crockery, and a fridge – basically everything you need for a comfortable stay. Over on the other end, there’s a super comfy sofa, armchairs, a flat screen TV, and a BOSE music setup. Because of the season, I had the chance to enjoy a cheery Christmas tree in the corner, which added some holiday cosiness to the space.
The main bedroom has a king size bed with a so-comfy-you’ll-sink-right-into-it mattress topper and a fluffy duvet to wrap yourself up in (something you will want to do every morning and evening in the winter!). There’s a gigantic amount of wardrobe space so you can make yourself completely at home (no living out of suitcases here) and the simple yet appreciated finishing touches like plants, ornaments, and stools round everything out. The second bedroom is home to twin beds topped with blue Ralph Lauren throws and brass lamps as accents.
The bathroom, although there’s only one, is fabulous. It is stocked with everything you could and would need for two days, a week, or even longer. There’s more fabulous storage space, a washing machine, a killer shower, fluffy towels, and great Rituals amenities. Since Residence Perseus is self-catering, there are domestic products, too, should you need them during your time there.
A lovely touch was the candles scattered around the apartment for that true Swedish touch. Winter comes with dark mornings and early sunsets so you can really get cosy by lighting up the candles and slinking back into the sofa before deciding to potter around Gamla Stan again. (Of course, use these candles in a responsible manner and remember to blow them out when you’re leaving the room or the flat!)
Each of the eight apartments has been carefully designed with individual concepts and can accommodate a various number of guests, whether you’re travelling solo or with your family. The luxury Prestige Suite, the grandest of them all, has been decorated with a regal approach and occupies an entire floor! There are four bedrooms, a grand piano in the living room, a rich library, and a jacuzzi for a good soak. The detailing is fantastic, especially the original 17th century ceiling paintings. This would make a fabulous haunt for a girls’ weekend away, family stay, or even a business function (since the suite even comes with a conference room).
Residence Perseus is about a four-minute walk to Den Gyldene Freden, the well-known and classic restaurant that has been serving delicious Swedish food since 1722! The upscale and elegant environment attracts a lot of well-known names alongside locals and tourists, and if you want to experience Nordic cuisine in a historical setting, you can’t go wrong with a visit here.
The windows in the living room offer the most incredible sunrise views so don’t miss out on the opportunity to whip out your phone and record some majorly Instagram-worthy shots. Listen carefully and you’ll also hear bells tolling in the distance, further transporting you into a different time.
Ed. note: Some answers have been edited for length and clarity.
What was your background before joining Residence Perseus?
Before joining Residence Perseus, I was studying English (I have a BA in English literature) and communication at Stockholm University. I have also previously worked with horses and as a riding instructor. For a few years, I managed my own riding school.
I have really had to use of all my previous experiences in my current work with Residence Perseus, and I actually (maybe oddly) find the fact that neither myself, nor the owner, have any experience of the hotel industry, one of our strengths. My starting point has always been myself and my own preferences, and I have (especially at the beginning) been very responsive to the guests.
With that said, I am very proud of the fact that we have had extremely high review rates all the way from the beginning. Also, since we do not strive to be a hotel, but rather a very different option with very few precursors, I have never felt the need to copy the hotel procedures or glance too much in that direction.
Hanna and I studied together at University for a while and knew each other somewhat, so when I hired her, I knew that she had the right mindset for this work, although no previous experience in the business (which I was not looking for). When I became in charge of Residence Perseus, we had only 3 apartments that were all being managed by an agency. Since then, I have begun to manage all of the business myself and successively expanded to 8 apartments and a staff of 4.
Was the owner experienced in the hotel trade? (We love how you are all nailing this without having years in a hotel!!)
No, not at all. The original thought was to rent the flats long/short-term to business travelers and relocation companies.
Where do you get your creative flair from? Did you have any assistance from interior designers?
I have always had an interest in fashion and design and love being creative so I just grabbed the opportunity to decorate the flats myself, without any assistance from interior designers and such. The building and historic atmosphere is a great inspiration and I have done my best to keep the historic feel yet with a modern touch. It is important to me that the guests should feel like they’re coming home when entering one of our apartments. At the same time, it needs to be practical when it comes to cleaning and they should not be over-decorated or feel crowded in any way.
What’s your split between long-term/short-term and business/pleasure?
Well, we get a lot of business proposals and requests. However, since the tourists usually book further in advance, I would say that we have roughly 70% guests traveling for pleasure
How would you describe Residence Perseus in 3 words?
Exclusive, Personal, Historic
For two women with no hotelier experience, the proof is in the pudding that passion will always override. Residence Perseus was a really lovely Stockholm hideaway within Gamla Stan, an area you could easily hang around for a couple of days without going anywhere else if you wanted.
With all of the travel we do, sometimes the desire to be in that “home away from home” environment is overwhelmingly strong. At Residence Perseus, you can have the luxuries plus all of that size at a super competitive price. We get used to thinking that hotels are our only option and this was a much-needed reminder that there are plenty of other ways to stay in and enjoy a city like Stockholm.
Disclaimer: The Caviar Spoon was hosted by Residence Perseus but all opinions expressed are our own.
Baggensgatan 17, 111 31, Stockholm