Les Clefs D'Or
Les Clefs D'Or

Your Key To Gothenburg, the Heart of Scandinavia – 2019 Les Clefs d’Or Award Nominee – Sweden

Like the name of a fictional blue diamond featured in the 1997 film Titanic, I would like to name Gothenburg, the Heart of Scandinavia. Not because of the significant history or beauty and nature that surrounds us, but for its location. The city of Gothenburg, the largest non-capital city of the Nordic region, is located right in the centre of the capital cities Oslo, Stockholm and Copenhagen.

For the third consecutive year, Gothenburg has been chosen by the GDS Index as the top destination of 2018 for its sustainability performance.

In this article I will highligt the sustainability and location of Gothenburg. Compared to other major cities, the distances are short and this invites you to celebrate the nature nearby.

Allow me to plan your visit far from the ordinary attractions and take you to a beautiful castle and one of the largest islands of our archipelago in just a couple of hours.

To begin with, we will need a vehicle. The vehicle I would arrange for you is none other than the gem of the Volvo brand, the Volvo XC90 Excellence. This vehicle manifests a luxury experience that is quintessentially Volvo and is only available for transfer service in very few locations around the world. I bet you there is no better way of getting around our city, the very home and birthplace of the Volvo brand, one of the most successful and recognized companies in Sweden.

We leave the inner city and prepare ourselves for a 30 minutes drive south of Gothenburg and arrive at Sweden’s leading Arts and Crafts property.


Tjolöholms castle was built between 1898-1904 by James Fredrik and Blanche Dickson, and the architecture is a mix of 14th century English style, Art Noveau and innovative design features such as electricity, central heating and a circularly flowing shower.

Through the past centuries, the Tjolöholm estate was owned by many distinguished families until it was bought by James and Blanche.

The location is renowned for its diverse wildlife and breathtaking views of the ocean. The premises include nearly 30 buildings, several gardens and widespread nature. The garden gradually adjusts to the countryside as it extends, giving the impression that the castle has grown out of its surroundings.

One of the most significant buildings is the Tjolöholm Church, built in 1903-1904. The church was originally meant for the employees of the castle. Today, after a thorough restauration, the church is used for weddings, christenings, concerts and, during the summer, services.

The castle is open for public and private tours every day in the summer and every weekend during the rest of the year. Visitors are shown around many of the castle’s 36 rooms and the duration of the tour is approximately 45 minutes.

We leave the castle behind us as we make our way north this time and prepare ourselves for a 60 minute drive to Marstrand, one of the largest islands of our archipelago, located only 30 minutes from Gothenburg.


Marstrand is one of the most beautiful towns on the west coast of Sweden. It is renowned for its intense boating culture, Carlsten´s fortress and its history as a playground for royals.

Your chaffeur will drop you off at the very end of the mainland where you will take a 5 minute ferry and arrive at the island itself. You have now reached a place where you can see and feel the pulse of what it is like to be a Swede.

As you arrive, I recommend to walk to the top of the island, where you will reach the Carlsten’s Fortress. On the top you will enjoy a beautiful view of the town on one side and a scenic view of the islands and sea on the other. This is one of the most beautiful places to enjoy a picnic, read a book or just stop thinking and clear your mind.

When going back down you can stop at the restaurant Johans Krog for something to eat. This restaurant offers classic dishes with a French touch. Ask to be seated on the veranda where you can feel the breeze off the ocean.

Skip dessert and continue your way around the island. With the Societetshuset on your left side, walk along the port edge until you reach the parked powerboats. Take a moment and look into the water, where you will be able to see an infinte number of fish moving in streams under each boat. The very reflection of Marstrands’ boating culture.

You should now be able to see a glass cube on your left side with a couple of chairs and tables inside, and a café called Bergs konditori on your right. Place your order of the traditional cinnamon bun, a cup of coffee and have a taste of a ”Fika”, the Swedish art of having a coffee and pastry.

If you stay on the island you are most likely to enjoy a beautiful sunset, or you may also head back to the mainland where your chaffeur awaits you to take you back to Gothenburg city where I am ready to share and recommend what to do for the rest of your day.

Erik is a candidate for the 2019 Les Clefs d’Or Award. This article has been published in its original form.

Meet the Author
Erik Montoya

I am born and raised in Varberg, Sweden. Both of my parents were born and raised in El Salvador in Central America. I am a proud member of Les Clefs d’Or International since January 2018.

I speak five languages and am able to communicate in an additional two.

Music is my second passion apart from my profession. I play the piano and my great inspiration is Mr. Hans Zimmer whom I admire and respect for his inspirational work. I have found that the piano is the perfect combination to find a balance with the everyday hectic environment of the hospitality industry.

I started my professional career as a young teenager and worked at different departments and type of hotels, giving me the opportunity to develop a wider and more international perspective of the service industry.

Without any doubt, I realized that I enjoyed being the one who personally welcomed every guest and had the responsiblity to enhance their visit and make it something memorable.

I graduated Swiss Hotel Management School in 2015 with a Swiss Honours Diploma, Bachelor in Hospitality/Events Management. Upon completion, I continued my professional journey at Upper House in Gothenburg where I, together with our Management, further developed my position which today includes the Concierge Service under my supervision, where my goal also is to involve and train my fellow colleagues.

I have contributed to our organisation by delivering the finest personal service to our international guests, anticipate their needs and exceed their expectations. Created relationships in Gothenburg in order to have a stronger network and being able to make the ”impossible” things seem possible when it comes to guest requests.

I believe that you rise with every challenge and that there is no bigger challenge than having the responsibility of being the local expert and ambassador of a chosen destination, fulfilling an infinite variety of requests from the everyday to the extraordinary.

Upper House, Gothia Towers

Located in the heart of Scandinavia, a modern design hotel with 53 rooms and suites, all of which are spacious and tastefully decorated with an eye for beautiful design and first-class materials.

The hotel occupies floors 18 to 25 in the centre tower of Gothia Towers, our partner hotel.

Our Grand Executive Suite, with its two-storey panoramic window, boasts a spectacular view. The 158m2 suite includes everything you could need to ensure that your stay is as enjoyable as possible. One of the most luxurious suites in Sweden.

We invite our guests to enjoy our Spa, awarded the best spa experience in Sweden 2018. Here you become one with the Nordic Light, harmonious colours and soothing natural materials. Float away in our easily recognized outdoor pool, encased in glass and hanging outside the building, 50 metres above ground.

A culinary journey for all your senses awaits at our one-Michelin starred restaurant Upper House Dining, located on the 25th floor with expansive views of the city. Choose from carefully-crafted light bites or extensive tasting menus. Our bar serves oysters, selected cheeses and several different types of champagne by the glass. Our ingredients are locally grown and the producers, butchers and dairies we use are all local, while the herbs used are grown on our rooftop garden.

We have chosen to go our own way, heading away from the traditional breakfast buffet. Instead we focus on the best seasonal ingredients and invite our guests to order a few deliciously cooked meals à la carte.

During summer months, the buzzing of 150,000 bees valiantly tries to compete with the noise of the city 25 floors below. This is Sweden’s highest located apiary. The honey produced by our ”smaller chefs” is used in our restaurants’ dishes, as well as to flavour our own beer.


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