The history of the Grand Hotel Saltsjöbaden


Grand Hotel Saltsjöbaden

The influential bank director K A Wallenberg had his brilliant idea during a visit to Monaco: Sweden would have its own Riviera and he would create it. It was the end of the 19th century and the location at the glittering bay fit the businessman’s vision. Here, a seaside resort would be built where strengthening baths in salty waves would do good to the urban man. The name said it all – Saltsjöbaden.

A number of architects were competing for who would build the financier’s dream palace: the Grand Hotel, which was to be inspired by the Hotel de Paris in Monte Carlo. The proposal “Salt”, by architect Erik Josephson, won the competition. The proposal had imaginative towers with domes and grand piano buildings and generated SEK 1000 in addition to the prestigious mission.

Gustaf Wallenberg, K A’s half brother, also got involved. He had had a finger in the game early in the process – according to his own statement, he submitted a sketch to architect Josephson even before the drawing had been submitted to the jury. The top floor of the hotel is Gustaf Wallenberg’s work: When he realized that the towers would not be visible over the tree tops, he ordered the architect to design another floor.

When the Grand Hotel was inaugurated in 1893, King Oscar II commanded the entire Swedish fleet off the coast of the country. Just that day, Sweden had no defense. Instead, the fleet ship was ordered to anchor in Hotellviken and shoot salutes. The King had also ordered two valuable vases of porcelain and gold, with portraits of Queen Sofia and himself, to the hotel. The two vases still stand today in the same place as at the inauguration ceremony: They each adorn their side of the beautiful fireplace at the reception.

The dream came true, the guests flocked to the Grand Hotel. K A Wallenberg built a railway from Stockholm to the hotel’s entrance – Saltsjöbanan – and increased the conditions for Saltsjöbaden to become an exclusive villa and beach resort.

It’s easy to get a breathtaking feeling for the Grand Hotel Saltsjöbaden, a place for those who want to experience the wings of history. This is where royals and Hollywood stars have stayed, peace talks have been held during wartime and here heads of cities have conferred. Here, the main agreement was signed between the Swedish Employers’ Association and LO in 1938 – the so-called Saltsjöbadsavtalet. Here, the precursors of the Winter Olympics were organized: the Nordic Games. In front of the hotel are two antique flagpoles and a sculpture of a skater – a memory of the competitions.

Since 2022, Grand Hotel Saltsjöbaden has been owned by Strandgården Family Office AB. Katarina Romell took over as CEO during the spring of 2019.