Hotel Kung Carl

A new meeting place on Stureplan

Stockholm’s oldest hotel has undergone a spectacular transformation. Entering the building is like stepping into another world. Elegant floral patterns blend with pink marble, soft velvet and a sparkling cocktail bar. Like an image of Paris in the middle of Stureplan.

The hotel enjoys a prime location. With panoramic views of the very heart of Stockholm, Hotel Kung Carl’s new entrance opens onto the corner of Kungsgatan and Birger Jarlsgatan.

The hotel, which is the oldest in Stockholm, boasts an impressive history. It was established in 1866 on Brunkebergstorg by wine merchant Johan Lundberg, and took its name from the reigning monarch. In 1925, the hotel relocated to its current address, where it soon became a natural hub for the cultural elite of the time. August Strindberg, Greta Garbo and Selma Lagerlöf are just some of the legends who have had their second home in this magnificent Art Nouveau property.

When the Östlundh family acquired the hotel in 1977, it comprised 46 rooms and a simple dining room. Much has happened in the intervening years. These days the hotel boasts 143 rooms, two bars, a bistro, function rooms, a gym, conference facilities, a rooftop terrace and its own jazz club. Fabege’s purchase of the property in 2005 also marked the start of a close collaboration that has resulted in a major facelift.

“The last few years have been extremely eventful. Together we’ve added a floor, replaced the plumbing, renovated the entire facade, refurbished the bathrooms, and, of course, the key thing we’ve done is create our new entrance, with all the refurbishments that involved. The building used to stand out because it looked so tired; now it catches the eye because it’s so beautiful,” says Marcus Östlundh, CEO of Hotel Kung Carl, as we take a seat in the new Bistro La Belle Epoque restaurant.

Finding win-win solutions

All these projects, like all difficult challenges during the pandemic, have moulded Hotel Kung Carl and Fabege into a winning team. It has required almost daily contact on all kinds of issues, large and small. A continual dialogue that has led to mutual learning, according to Charlotte Eklund, Property Manager at Fabege.

“You’re not just another tenant. Hotel Kung Carl brings life not just to the building, but also to the streetscape and the whole neighbourhood. For us as a property owner, it’s been important to understand your business, which is a 24-hour operation,” she explains, and is backed up by Marcus:

“Absolutely. In our industry, property owners and hotel operators are often seen as two opposing parties with competing interests. But Fabege takes a different approach. You understand how to create value with joint solutions that benefit us both. Our relationship is a vital key to success,” he emphasises.

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Fabege helps the hotel thrive

One specific example of this is the new main entrance on Stureplan. The Hotel Kung Carl had long dreamt of taking over the 300-square metre corner space, but when Starbucks appeared on the scene in 2014, it looked like that dream was over. So in June 2020, in the middle of the pandemic, Charlotte called Marcus and said: “You’ve got an opportunity that’s too good to turn down now.”

“It was the world’s worst timing,” recalls Marcus Östlundh. “For three months in a row we’d had an occupancy rate of less than five percent.  So I actually said no. But Fabege were great. You asked us to hold off and take the summer to think about it. In the end, after lots of intense discussions on the Board of Directors, we said: ‘Ok, let’s do it. But we have to find a way that’s feasible.’”

“Naturally, it was a tough process getting all the parameters in the contract in place,” admits Charlotte Eklund. “But our attitude was that if we’re going to have the hotel in the building, we also have to help you thrive. And everyone at Fabege is extremely proud of the hotel and what we’ve created together.

La Belle Epoque spreads light and hope

The refurbishment was completed in autumn 2021 and has not only enhanced the appearance of the hotel entrance, but also improved the property in all respects. New features include the new cocktail bar, a Northern French bistro, a jazz club in the old ‘Bakfickan’ bar, a wine bar in the courtyard, a rooftop terrace and two state-of-the-art meeting rooms. All the interior decor – from the wallpaper to the cushions and crystal – reflects the new theme, La Belle Epoque.

“La Belle Epoque is the era from the end of the 19th century to the outbreak of the First World War, characterised by optimism and confidence in the future. It was a time when invention, art and architecture flourished. The period marked the birth of the luxury hotel in France, and Hotel Kung Carl dates back to that era. That was before the ‘Bratt’ system and regulations controlling alcohol consumption in Sweden. Everything was carefree. That’s the kind of feeling we want to give our guests,” explains Marcus.

The theme’s promise of light and hope was also a positive symbol during the pandemic, when the hotel was on its knees. And now, in summer 2022, the tide has turned. May saw record sales for Kung Carl, and the figures for June will be well over takings in June 2019. And the challenges of recent years have taught the Östlundh family, hotel owners for three generations, an important lesson.

“We’ve realised just how crucial the property owner is. If we were to buy a new hotel, that would have been one of the most important issues. I’m on the board of Best Western, which has 160 hotels in Scandinavia, and during the pandemic everyone was talking about their property owners. Many were upset. But Fabege was different – you were responsive, flexible and open to dialogue. I know several hotels that are very grateful for that,” says Marcus Östlundh.

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A hotel with a personal touch and a unique history

There’s a wealth of ideas now about how to take the hotel to the next level. And this prestigious building is something of a character in itself.  Marcus describes it as a labyrinth. It lends character and charm to the building, while presenting a challenge for the property owner.

“You have to find creative solutions. It’s one of the most attractive buildings on Stureplan, with Sweden’s most central location.  This corner has long been a bit overlooked, but now it’s coming to life thanks to Hotel Kung Carl,” says Charlotte Eklund.

For Marcus Östlundh, the future is especially about continuing to refine Hotel Kung Carl as an alternative to the generic hotel chains. A destination hotel with a personal touch, where his sister designs all the interiors, his father commissions the artwork on the walls and each room is unique. A place where you can sense the history in everything, from the choice of music to the hotel’s house liqueur, inspired by King Carl XV himself.

“We want to build on our unique history. Our vision is that if you haven’t paid a visit to Hotel Kung Carl, then you haven’t been to Stockholm. Stureplan is the city’s most iconic area, and the hotel will be the obvious destination when you’re on Stureplan. It may sound impossible, but that’s what we’re aiming for,” concludes Marcus.

Do you have a question?

Charlotte Eklund
Property Manager
+46 8-555 148 66


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