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Mountain hotel in Swedish Lapland wins UNESCO World Award

Swedish design agency, Stylt, and Niehku Mountain Villa, was yesterday awarded the UNESCO Prix Versailles for the word’s best hotel design. Presented at a gala in Paris, the prize recognises the concept, identity and interior design of the Niehku Mountain Villa, a hotel located at Riksgränsen in Sweden. The small Lapland venue fought off stiff competition from rivals in Oman, Brazil, Malaysia, the USA and China. Niehku is the first Scandinavian entry to win the UNESCO award.

Stylt and Niehku was rewarded for its success in combining culture and creativity with financial and commercial interests. This is the second time the Gothenburg-based agency has won the UNESCO World Award. Two years ago, Stylt was recognised for its work with Hotel Spedition, based in Thun, Switzerland.

“Winning a UNESCO World Award for the second time is a fantastic feeling. It’s especially satisfying that we did it with a project right up in the north, as far as you can get from the international hotel scene. We also beat off competition from outstanding venues such as the NoMad in Los Angeles, Kempinski Hotel Muscat in Oman and the Datai Langkawi in Malaysia,” said Stylt’s founder Erik Nissen Johansen.

Niehku, which means “dream” in northern Sami, is an exclusive, high-end boutique hotel with highly personal service combining mountain activities and outdoor experiences with world class accommodation and gastronomy. Situated at Riksgränsen, some 200 km north of the Arctic Circle, the hotel was constructed on the site of Malmbanan’s (the Iron Ore Line) over 100-year-old roundhouse.

“The area is rich in history. It was here, at the roundhouse, that the steam locomotives operating on Malmbanan between Kiruna and Narvik would stop for maintenance work. This is a key part of the hotel’s concept and history,” explains Erik Nissen Johansen.

Listed as a site of historical heritage, the ruins of the old roundhouse cut right through the hotel. The venue plays host to 14 cosy double rooms, while one of the old grease pits in the restaurant has been converted into a wine cellar. Ski enthusiasts descend here from across the globe to enjoy heli-skiing and tours of the peaks. The ski season stretches from February to the end of May, with the final weeks taking place under the magical midnight sun. And in the summer months the area offers different types of hiking as well as cycling, climbing, fishing and other activities.

Opened in March 2018, the venue is run by Johan “Jossi” Lindblom and Patrik “Strumpan” Strömsten, two of the country’s most prominent figures in the fields of adventure tourism, guiding, hotels and gastronomy.

“Together with Stylt we’ve created a total experience for our customers, with a fantastic interior featuring a wealth of natural materials from the local area and an ambience that reflects everything we represent. We’re really proud to have won UNESCO’s Prix Versailles and gain this international recognition,” said co-founder and Hotel Manager Patrik Strömsten.

Staring as an artists’ collective at the end of the 1980s, Stylt is today one of the world’s most decorated design agencies focusing on the hospitality industry. Its combination of strategy, brand development, storytelling and interior design have enabled it to win contracts both locally and globally. In addition to the UNESCO Prix Versailles for Niehku Mountain Villa,

Stylt has recently received a number of international awards for its work on, among others, Huus Hotel, in Switzerland, 25hours Hotel, in Düsseldorf and Downtown Camper by Scandic, in Stockholm.

Yesterday’s award ceremony at UNESCO’s headquarters was attended by Stylt founder Erik Nissen Johansen and a number of colleagues, as well as the hotel manager and owner.