As a Londoner, it is in our DNA to loathe cyclists. Our belief is that the car is king, and the city streets are its kingdom. So it was with trepidation and a sense of arrogance, that I arrived in Malmo to stay in the world’s first hotel designed entirely for cyclists, Ohboy Hotell.
On arriving in Malmo, my first impressions were muted. Forgetting it was early on a Sunday morning, I was staggered by how quiet and deserted the place seemed. Barely a car, barely a cyclist, barely a living mortal to be seen. Wondering if I had walked onto the set of a Swedish zombie movie, I made my way gingerly towards the hotel.
Whilst meandering through the city, after having found out that I had started in the financial district which explained the calm, things began to make sense. More and more people were to be seen going about their day, but not by car. The bicycle was the weapon of choice, and I could see why.
In a recent survey, Malmo was voted the 5th in the Top Ten of the world’s most biking-friendly cities. Its infrastructure is fully geared towards cyclists, with all roads having designated cycle paths and purpose-built traffic lights. With a size of just 60.6 square miles, approximately one tenth of the size of London, all areas can be comfortably accessed by bicycle.
As I arrived at Ohboy Hotell, the first thing that struck me was its location. With the magnificent Turning Torso within a stone’s throw, and plenty of parks and greenery to complement its 5 minute walk to the seafront, it truly is a beautiful setting.
The second thing that occurred to me was the minimal use of outside space for such a vast six story building. The reason for this is its lack of need for car parking areas or valet spots. Even full-time residents on the top floor are forbidden from keeping cars there. Reducing running costs and in keeping with its moral stance, I was already warming to the ethos.
The complementary bicycle that came with the room was in tone with everything I had witnessed up to that point. Its foldable frame meant it could be hung up inside the room, or left unfolded and locked up outside with the provided bike-lock.
After using my unique 6 digit code for entry which enabled avoiding the tedium of “check-in” - I was in. The quirky room itself was set on two floors. The upper floor consisted of a bijou kitchen area with modern functional equipment including a dishwasher, a seating area for meals, and a desk with chair sensibly situated next to power points. Simplistic yet effective, it didn’t take itself too seriously, as proved by the random hammock that could be attached, stretching the entirely length of the floor space. Mauritius had come to Malmo, and it worked.
The lower floor was the bedroom and bathroom area, comfortable and maximising its use of limited space. The bathroom had a lovely powerful shower and contemporary feel, almost in complete contrast with the unpredictable nature of the rest of the dwelling.
This hotel is less than a year old, and it shows. Mixing modern with the eclectic, while rigidly sticking to its green credentials, it is a credit to the city.
Malmo has defined itself as a cycling haven, and Ohboy Hotell is a by-product of this. Through smart thinking and attention to detail, I believe this hotel will be a huge success, even a pioneer. I for one, a bona-fide car lover, am happy to hold my hands up and admit that I am converted.
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