Grythyttans Gästgivaregård, Bergslagen, Sweden ***

Q: What is it? A: The 372-year old inn got a serious facelift in 1973 by Swedish wine and restaurant legend Carl Jan Granqvist who turned the little town into a food Mekka. Today, it is mostly targeting those looking for a romantic weekend retreat.

Here it is. There's not more than that. That's that and that is what that is.

The locals obviously have a sense of humor. Grythyttan has a population of 891. The tiny centre of this town is therefore more of a ‘centre’ than an actual centre.

Go Wikipedia: "'Cobblestone' is derived from the very old English word 'cob', which had a wide range of meanings."

The cobblestone street of Västra Bergvägen of Grythyttan. If you want to find the entrance to the inn itself, just make a left around the next corner. You can’t miss it!

This is the Gästgivaregården and you are here.

The actual centre of Grythyttan: The Inn, made famous by its proprietor Carl Jan Granqvist in the late 1970s. And gosh! Soon it has been around for 369 years!

Behold, people! Behind these walls, people are having afternoon tea!

The courtyard of the Grythyttans Gästgivaregård. This is part of the main building. Guests may be accommodated in about a dozen surrounding houses.

Just like a Chris Isaac song: "Blue hotel", only older.

The historical building I stayed in: The Ekmanska Gården. It’s probably not as old as the inn itself but I honestly didn’t mind. It was newly furbished with a great bathroom.

It’s amazing what an old inn can do.
The story in short: In 1640 the county governor by command of the Queen Kristina, ordered the construction of a road to the silver mines in the area. This order also called for the establishments of inns and restaurants. Hence this inn.
Huge leap forward in time. In the late 1960s, the buildings of the inn had decayed. At the very last minute they were miraculously saved from demolition. The local heritage society, which now owned the inn, saw the need for an ambitious restaurateur. All those who was approached declined until an antique dealer, 26 years of age, arrived. According to corporate myth, he was dressed in red plaid golf attire with short trousers and a vest.

The era of Carl Jan, Grythyttan’s 16th innkeeper.
On March 17 in 1973 Carl Jan Granqvist reopened the inn and during the next 25 years he completely changed the reputation of Grythyttan. Stop. Erase that. It’s more accurate to say that he became Grythyttan. Soon it was the place where even the rich and famous queued up to spend a relaxing weekend. Carl Jan’s involvement with the region reached its peak when he managed to bring the Swedish pavilion from the world exhibition in Seville to Grythyttan and turning it into a university for culinary arts.

Cool. So what is it like to stay there?
The staff at the inn makes a wonderful first impression, by calling two days in advance ‘just to say welcome’. Even if this was a sales call in disguise (I guess selling spa treatments was on the list) they pulled it off with a personal touch and superb style.
The inn itself is not so much an inn anymore, as Carl Jan expanded it to comprise every house along the main street. In total there are 22 buildings with 60 rooms and suites. The inn itself has several dining rooms and salons, one with a grand piano, another with a large portrait of Carl Jan. If you have stayed in an old mansion, you know what to expect.

Carl Jan built the inn’s reputation on superb food.
Today the inn does its best to live up to this. The crispbread, made from graham flour, is probably the best I’ve ever tasted (and believe me, I’ve got a PhD in crispbread) and the amuse-bouche is… simply top-notch. The scallops made a huge down-payment on the petrol bill and the oxtail was nothing but excellent. No flaws? Well, desserts need improvement but more importantly, a few of the younger staff members were obviously freshmen (although the first waitress was amazing).
If you’re around; order the upgraded wine package. During my visit, there was an Italian theme and those wines really kicked ass (excuse my French).

It is worth the trip.
According to my GPS, the distance to central Stockholm was 293 km. It wouldn’t feel OK to even write this review if the place was not worth the trip. But it is. And the mere thought that these buildings were once sentenced to demolition is truly gut-wrenching. My hat is off for the local enthusiasts (Artur Lindqvist and Yngve Henricsson) who overturned the fate of Grythyttan and of course to Carl Jan who, even if he’s not involved in the inn anymore, used his energy and vision to change the image of the whole region.

Grythyttans Gästgivaregård
Prästgatan 2
712 81 Grythyttan

A few friendly notes for the current management:
– Expand the sauna! The soaking pool is a great idea but it should be at least six times larger.
– Make sure that your guests know at what time they should arrive for dinner or lunch.
– Improve the heating! Room no. 58 would definitely benefit from better isolation. With so many buildings, I guess it’s not something that’s done overnight. As a guest you’d better ask for a well heated room during winter time.
– Use lunches as a training ground for the less experienced staff. At dinner time guests expect nothing but the best.

It wouldn’t take that much trouble to turn Grythyttan into a five-star location. It has the atmosphere, the history and the potential. And don’t be put off by the location. 293 km is nothing if your car has a decent speaker system.

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