Tag Archives: Hotell Gästis

Lit hotel

Take one old(ish) communist millionaire, allow him to have quite a lot of opinions about a lot of things, and you can work out that he will make enemies as he goes about his daily business. Which includes running a couple of hotels.

I have known [about] this owner of Hotell Gästis in Varberg for many years, and been vaguely acquainted with him since that literature module at university nearly forty years ago, but haven’t seen him except for a couple of years ago at Uncle’s funeral.

I have been aware of the hotel all my life, as it’s opposite the block of flats where GP Cousin grew up. But this was my first stay there, and I was intrigued to find owner Lasse Diding sharing his latest feud on facebook only a day before I travelled.

Hotell Gästis - wall art

He likes books, so is well suited to host a Bookwitch. The rooms are stuffed with books to read (and if you haven’t finished when you leave you can take it with you), and the corridors and the bar and the restaurant are even more stuffed. With books.

Hotell Gästis - book cover poster and books

So, the feud. I gather Lasse doesn’t get on with the leader writer on the local paper Hallands Nyheter. The latest trick is to uninvite him to sponsor the annual Book Day in town, where visiting authors have been put up in the hotel. It seems a shame, as this centrally placed book-hotel couldn’t be more ideal. (Well, perhaps anyone similarly afflicted to your Bookwitch might have opinions on the outlandish arrangements for ablutions in the bathroom, but we are not all like that.)

Hotell Gästis - the bath, shower?

(There is also a Lenin spa. Obviously.)

An earlier feud was over the statue Lasse bought and donated to the town. Some twenty years ago a woman somewhere in Sweden witnessed a neo-nazi march and got so furious that she hit them with her handbag. This has now been made into a statue, and not everyone is keen on it. It’s a shame, since we need more of this kind of courage.

Hotell Gästis - books

What I personally needed as I arrived, was plenty of tea. Lasse is not a member of the kettle in your room brigade, which I’m afraid I feel is a service that cannot ever be over-rated. There is a fridge. Books. Lovely period armchairs. Old-fashioned desk, and broadband. (The password is a literary one.) Books. Shoehorn. Magazines. Art on the walls. Fan. Outlandish bath/shower arrangement. Books. ‘Oriental’ rugs everywhere.

He does, however, include a buffet dinner in the room price. I drank a large cup of Earl Grey after dinner. Then another. Whoever chose that blend of Earl Grey should have a statue made of them.

Hotell Gästis - armchair

And if the coffee is as good, I can – almost – understand the local conservative politician who regularly calls in to steal cups of coffee and biscuits. I believe this is now in the hands of the law. I’d just about be prepared to nick some tea when passing through town. Except I wouldn’t. Just because someone is well off, and a communist, doesn’t mean we should steal from them.

But we could accept their statues.

There is obviously no way I will be helping myself to a book for the onward journey.

2 kilos of YA books, please

Next to the church where the very very small bookwitch received her more ‘normal’ name, many many years ago, there is a bookshop. Naturally.

Storkyrkan, Varberg

This shop saved the Resident IT Consultant the other day when we made a quick trip to Varberg. Daughter and witch had urgent business in a shop selling, well, other stuff, and the mere thought of the suffering this would cause him, helped him remember that there is a bookshop across the square, whither he repaired.

Books by weight

They had a box outside with books priced at 60 kronor per kilo. That would translate as approximately £6 for three paperbacks, except many of these were hardbacks, so you’d get more like two, perhaps. There were some good ones, including Artemis Fowl and Zizou Corder’s Lion Boy and Cosmic by Frank Cottrell Boyce.

Varberg seagull

The seagull (it may not be one, but it’s what I will call it anyway) is large. Very large. That’s because it frequents the pizzeria two streets away. It’s capable of flying carrying half a Swedish pizza (=big) in its beak. It sometimes has afternoon tea at the castle terrace café, which is very nice, although it doesn’t like the invisible fishing lines they’ve got crisscrossing the place, trying to catch unwary seagulls. They may lose their heads.

Close to the square is the street where GP Cousin grew up. He was always talking about his pal Lasse Widding who worked in the hotel across the road. Some years later your bookwitch did a course in literature at the University of Gothenburg, where she was part of a project group which included a young man with a very similar name. I had been surprised that a famous author like Widding would need a hotel job (and also that he’d be friends with GP Cousin). It was all explained by this name similarity. He wasn’t Widding at all.

Hotell Gästis, Varberg

The circle was complete when, more recently, I read in the paper that the hotel is now owned by the Widding sound-alike. Every time I walk past I’m taken in by the man in the doorway. Neither of them are real.

And one of the most important things about Varberg are the ‘raggare‘ and their cars. Daughter was beside herself at the sight of this beauty. I seriously suspect she’ll have to go and live in Varberg one day.

Raggarbil i Varberg