It was exactly a month ago on 17 March that we moved into Urshult Hotell. What an adventure it was for us! We arrived full of hope and expectation about our new life.
How are things looking one month on? Here is the ‘ABC’ of our first month:
A is for…Åsnen. We met with Destination Åsnen (local tourist association) and were both very impressed with all that is being done to unite and strengthen the businesses around Lake Åsnen, thus attracting more tourists to the area. There is so much help and support for our hotel and it is wonderful to know that. Also, we are very much looking forward to 2016, when the area will be declared a National Park.
B is for…breakfast. We have now served a total of 25 breakfasts. We started doing freshly cut ham, with a ham cutting machine we found in the kitchen. Plans for the future include introducing more locally produced food such as apple juice, jams, honey and eggs.
C is for…card terminal! When we first arrived we had no card terminal, which meant guests had to either pay in cash or be sent a bill. It was frustrating not to be able to take payments straight away. Just this week we have got our new card terminal – an izettle with ipad. This will be ready for our next guest, who arrives on Monday.
D is for…decluttering. I wish I could show you just how much random stuff there is here in Urshult Hotell (see my last post for a taster!). Some of it is useful or beautiful like the lamps and tables we have found. And some of it is not. (The full-size shawl-wearing mannequin in the hotel lobby is now happily residing out of sight in the hotel basement!)
E is for…entrance. We have tidied this up a bit, decluttered, painted the wall, brought some plants in and swept the stairs.
F is for…first visit from the bonusbarn. We have had my step-son and step-daughter with us for 2 weeks now and they go back to London on Sunday. Their excitement and enthusiasm for Urshult Hotell has been lovely to see. They each enjoy having their own room and being able to go outside and play.
G is for…gardening!
H is for…hotel inspector! We had an inspector check our kitchen this week and we passed, with a few recommendations for upgrades. We are immensely relieved and happy that we can continue to make breakfasts. Prior to the inspection it was all hands on deck as we scrubbed, cleaned, washed and decluttered.
I is for…interview! It was a lot of fun having the local newspaper come and interview us. Many local residents have read the article and we have had several bookings come out of it. Here is the link for the TV interview, in case you missed it:
J is for…jolly guests! We have really enjoyed meeting all our guests and one particularly jolly party was a family of 7 who stayed with us over the Easter weekend. As part of their stay we cooked them dinner on their first night. It was really nice to see the children playing in our garden while the adults chatted over a glass of wine in the conservatory, the sun slowly setting over Lake Åsnen. When we served dinner (home-made lasagne followed by fruit salad and ice cream) they really made the most of the fine hotel dining room, talking and laughing long into the evening. The hotel felt very full of life that day.
K is for…kitchen and bathroom. Our biggest project at the moment is putting a new bathroom and kitchen into our flat. Originally, the hotel was in one building with bakery on the ground floor, restaurant on the first floor and guest accommodation on the second and third floors. The Karlsson family, who built the hotel and bakery in 1923, lived in a house opposite. The hotel side of their business was so successful that they built a separate annexe with 14 guest rooms in 1929. Fast-forward to 2015 and our flat (the previous guest accommodation) has a slightly strange layout with all the rooms off one long and dark corridor a la 1920s hotel. The bathroom facilities were 3 small toilet cubicles, one of which had a shower. Also, there was no kitchen in the flat – previous owners used the hotel kitchen. So, we have removed one side of the corridor and are turning one of the old bedrooms into a kitchen. We have knocked the 3 toilet cubicles into one and will make one big and luxurious bathroom with a bath and shower. This photo is of the pipes in one of the toilet cubicles. Almost all the pipes had to be removed as we are re-routing the plumbing. I say ‘we’ and what I really mean is my amazing husband and father-in-law!!
L is for…lovely reception area. We have cleaned and decorated this to make it look much more welcoming.
M is for…meetings. We have hosted several meetings in our hotel and are particularly fond of providing refreshment in the form of buns from the local bakery.
N is for…new website. It has been complicated to get control of the old hotel website so we created a new one: http://www.urshulthotell.com . We plan to translate the site into Swedish, German and Dutch to match the international make-up of our guests.
O is for…our neighbours. We have now met close to 20 of our neighbours and I have been charmed by how welcoming they are. We have received cards and gifts to welcome us to the area and have had many people pop in.
P is for…party! Last week we had a surprise party at the hotel for my in-laws’ 50th wedding anniversary. A golden wedding is definitely a cause for celebration and we began with drinks outside in the evening sun. We ate salmon for dinner in the main dining room and then moved into the bar to sit around the piano.
Q is for…quick journeys. We bought a car in our first week here and it has been very helpful for the food shopping. Our nearest supermarket is 11 km away, which is just a bit too far to go on my bike, especially if it is cold! So, we do most of our shopping by car and my husband also uses it to go to his music teacher job in Alvesta everyday (45 minutes drive)
R is for…recorder group! Last Monday I joined a local recorder group and had such a pleasant evening, I shall definitely be returning next week. The group is made up of Swedish, English and German musicians and we played a mixture of composers, including Vivaldi. I love how music is an international language so, even though my Swedish is still basic, I can still confidently belt out a bit of Vivaldi!
S is for…sfi! This is the Swedish equivalent of TEFL. I started on Tuesday and have really enjoyed going to classes. Everyday I learn something new (even if some of it is things I already learnt in England) and I get to meet people from all over the world. In my class we have people from Belgium, Holland, Palestine, Syria, Eritrea, Germany and Scotland. At the end of this month there will be an international evening where students from the year above will do a presentation (in Swedish) about their home country. Some of the students bring food from their country too. I wonder what I would bring to represent English cuisine?
T is for…towels and bedding. We are gradually phasing in new white fluffy towels and white bedding. Keeping to this white colour scheme will add a professional look to the guest rooms.
U is for…Urshult Hotell dog. We shall be getting our new lagotto puppy next week as he is finally old enough for us to collect him. I am so looking forward to having this new addition to the hotell.
V is for…visits from friends. A friend from England visited last week and we had absolutely fabulous weather. Making the most of it, we went for several walks and also visited local villages. We also got further along in our planning for the orchestral course we hope to run next summer.
W is for…wiggling. I have found a dance class to attend at my local leisure centre. It is called SheBam! It sounds great and looks like a mixture of street dance and aerobics. Looking forward to my first class next Wednesday.
X is for…X-rays. I had my first visit to a dentist here in Sweden and am now registered for regular check-ups and treatments.
Y is for…yummy food, mainly the buns from Urshult bakery. Mmmmmmmmmm
Z is for zzzzzzzzzz. Every guest I have asked tells me they sleep well here. Me too!