< SWEDEN | STOCKHOLM: Grand Hôtel
In late spring 1874 Régis Cadier's lifetime achievement, the Grand Hôtel, was finished. It had taken many years of planning and almost two years of building
to complete the project, Decoration of the interiors took about a year to complete. On Sunday June 14, 1874 the King of Sweden, Oscar II, arrived at the hotel along with three
of his sons to inspected the building. Before the King departed, the large flag at the front of the hotel was hoisted, and the Grand Hôtel was opened. One by one, the guest rooms
filled up. Stockholm had acquired a new first-class attraction, a new landmark, of distinction.
In 1884, ten years after being built, the hotel was in need of renovation and a new rendering. The façade, in particular, was in need of face-lift. The new rendering had a lighter, more appealing hue.
In 1889 Régis Cadier bought the property next to the Grand Hôtel, Bolinderska Palatset (Bolinder Palace), and incorporated it into the hotel. Only a year later Régis Cadier died
after a short illness.
The redevelopment of the Grand Hôtel began in September 1898 after it was purchased in 1897 by a consortium of buyers, including the banker Axel Burman. The work was extensive. A new façade was created, and turrets and towers were added to the building. The work was completed in November 1899, and on Tuesday November 28 a large opening dinner was held. Spegelsalen, the "Hall of Mirrors", was one of the hotel's new attractions, inspired by the Galerie des Glaces at Versailles.
In 1902 The Grand Hôtel Royal was built on the plot of land immediately behind the Grand Hôtel on Blasieholmen. The main attraction was a fantastic winter garden in the center of the building.
In 1924 new plans for a comprehensive modernization of the building were made. The most important changes were a new exterior and the creation of several new guest rooms. Spegelsalen was restored but not altered. It had already come to be regarded as a piece of the country's cultural heritage. When the scaffolding was removed in 1926, the hotel had been completely modernized.
During the last years of the 1920s tourists started to return to Stockholm in greater numbers. More and more cruise ships, carrying plenty of well-heeled Americans, found their way here. The Americans were very keen on seeing Europe, and when they came to Stockholm they naturally wanted to visit and, if possible, stay at the Grand Hôtel.
The post-war years were an excellent period for the Grand Hôtel. The borders were opened again and the number of travelers was greater than ever before. In the early 1950s the shortage of rooms, especially of rooms with en-suite bathrooms, started to become a problem. It was decided that two new floors should be built as soon as possible.
Since a long time rooms no. 317, 318 and 319 had been reserved for royalty, presidents, heads of state, famous actors and other distinguished guests. By 1965 these rooms were starting to look slightly antiquated and were in need of modernization. The task was assigned to Sigvard Bernadotte and his colleague Veit Bethke, who created a suite that was named after its creator: the Bernadotte Suite. The reviews were encouraging, to say the least.
In the mid-1980s there was a clear trend toward exclusivity. To stay in tune with this new spirit, the Grand Hôtel decided to try and restore the hotel's former glory. The hotel contacted Bob Merchant, a widely acclaimed hotel decorator from Los Angeles and commissioned him to redesign the hotel's kitchens and dining rooms. The idea was to bring out and enhance the "turn-of-the-century feel" of the Grand Hôtel. In June 1985 work began on the entrance and lobby, which were restored to their original splendor using the same blue and yellow color scheme as at the turn of the century. The objective was to make the lobby more attractive, rationalize the reception area and make the unique view of the harbor more visible to the guests. A section of Franska Matsalen's veranda and the hotel's lobby were detached and converted into a large and elegant bar with a grand piano and an outer seating area with groups of armchairs and a magnificent view of the harbor and Royal Palace. It was named Cadierbaren, the "Cadier Bar".
In April 1988 Princess Christina of Sweden attended the opening of the new Grand Hôtel. The hotel had undergone one of its biggest transformations ever. The staff, which that year numbered 350 people, had been instructed to live up to Régis Cadier's motto: "to always treat the customer as if he were a king".
The Grand Hôtel has always considered the Nobel Prize Awards as one of the most important events during the year. Ever since the first prizes were awarded in 1901 the Laureates have been staying at the Grand Hôtel.
In Grand Hôtel's guest book we found many famous names: Sarah Bernhardt, Henry Ford, Albert Einstein, Douglas Fairbanks, Greta Garbo, Ingrid Bergman, Orson Welles, Spencer Tracy, Gregory Peck, Frank Sinatra, Ava Gardner, Gary Cooper, Esther Williams, Sophia Loren, Joséphine Baker, Maurice Chevalier, Prince Rainier of Monaco and Grace Kelly, Pat Boone, Henry Fonda, Nat King Cole, Quincy Jones, Duke Ellington, Marlene Dietrich, Igor Stravinsky, Helena Rubenstein, Liz Taylor, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Lyndon B. Johnson, Nikita Khrushchev and the two Soviet cosmonauts Gagarin and Bykovsky, Charlie Chaplin, Ingmar Bergman, Henry Kissinger, Nancy Reagan, Jimmy Carter, Rolling Stones, Stevie Wonder, Bruce Springsteen, Michael Jackson...