GOTHENBURG (GÖTEBORG), SWEDEN – This morning, we check out of First Hotel Avalon after staying two nights following our Gota Canal Cruise from Stockholm. And although Gothenburg was “under the weather” during our stay, it’s still a great city to explore on the West Coast of Sweden, no matter how much the weather gods are conspiring against Sweden’s otherwise beautiful sunny and blue skies.
First Hotel Avalon ranks #1 of 62 hotels in Gothenburg on TripAdvisor. We wanted to see what being #1 in Gothenburg was all about, so we made reservations before leaving home and rolled our luggage to the hotel Sunday afternoon to check in.
Opened in 2007, Avalon is, first and foremost, an award-winning design hotel, featuring 101 rooms with a maximum, and this is important, of only two guests per room. Management took the position that two guests per room would assure high levels of service and create, what we call on cruise ships, a comfortable space ratio.
Avalon’s thinking works well. The hotel did not feel crowded once during our two-night stay, including at the complimentary breakfast offered until 10 a.m. on weekdays and until 11 a.m. on Saturdays and until noon on Sundays. At many hotels, breakfast can be a stressful event when there are simply too many people in too small a space in too crunched a time. Each morning, we sat a table for two by the window, perhaps the best seats in the city.
For families or people traveling together in groups of more than two, the hotel features eight connecting rooms, but does not offer roll-away beds or sleeper sofas.
First Hotel Avalaon has a certificate for its Feng Shui design, and the relaxed aesthetic mood was apparent the moment we walked into the lobby from the busy shopping street and square, Kungstorget.
We received a warm welcome from a friendly receptionist and an offer to store our luggage until our room was ready at 3 p.m. Luckily, the best of Gothenburg was at the hotel’s doorstep. Kungstorget has been Gothenburg’s (or in Swedish, Göteborg’s) largest market place since the mid-19th century. All of the Swedish brand stores were nearby, including my daughter’s favorite, H&M, just next door.
We strolled and shopped for an hour or so, had a fika (a Swedish social convention that I enjoy and write about often), and returned at 2:30 to see if our room was ready. It was.
Upon opening the door, the first thing we noticed was the tub. It was large, with jets, and, to our surprise, exposed to the rest of the room. This could be awkward with my daughter who enjoy baths, sometimes up to twice a day. Fortunately, she discovered that a privacy curtain wraps around the entire bathroom. For me, there was a separate shower.
Our Deluxe-category room featured a flat-panel television, DVD player, a minibar with, what seemed to us, a whimsical “total consumption” item listed on the price sheet at SEK1,800 (about US$250). Let’s empty the minibar!
The beds featured probably the finest Egyptian cottons I’ve ever slipped in between. The room also had two design chairs and a small balcony overlooking Kungstorget and Saluhallen.
We got to check out a few other rooms while we were at Avalon, one of the eight Panorama Deluxe rooms that had a beautiful view over Kungstorget, and one of the five Deluxe Terrace rooms that had a horse (sculpted) on the terrace. It was a fun touch of whimsy.
The hotel also features a pool and rooftop terrace. The pool partially extends over the street, several stories below, and has a glass bottom and sides so that swimmers could feel as if they were flying. It must be quite a spectacle for those below.
Breakfast featured a great mix of hot and cold items. I enjoyed being able to make my own specialty coffees. The dining room itself was attractive, with windows looking out on busy Kungstorget and Gothenburg’s beautiful trams passing by.
We’d recommend this hotel for those who appreciate design, art and location. We certainly enjoyed First Hotel Avalon’s whimsical touches, its Feng Shui and Nordic design, as well as being able to step out the door and into the center of Gothenburg.
#1 hotel in the city? TripAdvisor thinks so, and we give the hotel high marks as well, but the only way to know for sure is to see for yourself.