A chance to travel to Sweden to sleep in a bed that is renowned as the best in the world is too good an opportunity to miss and the Hästens experience does not disappoint
Arriving in Sweden is a surreal moment. It’s autumn but the sun is shining and there is an acre of blue sky overhead. I have come to Sweden on a mission, a quest to discover the most luxurious bed in the world, and at the same time enjoy the delights of Stockholm and all that this beautiful city has to offer.
As a lover of great design, Stockholm has it all. Historic architecture, objects of design and desire and beauty everywhere you look. With an invitation to visit, explore and test the best bed in the world, that just happens to be made near Stockholm, I am unprepared to have my sleeping regime disturbed forever but that is exactly what happens.
Arriving at the delightful Stallmästaregården Hotel situated on the edge of the Bay of Brunnsviken, I am surrounded by buildings centuries old that have been revitalised, modern yet traditional. My room has a water view, and impressively, a mezzanine for sleeping but also one very special addition, a Hästens (pronounced Hestons) bed. I am to spend three nights here, enough to ponder sleep and to see if what is said about this bed is really true.
Design and cuisine
After depositing my bags, I’m off to explore central Stockholm a few kilometres away, and then to Ett Hem for a most delicious lunch prepared with local, seasonal ingredients. While Ett Hem is a Hotel and restaurant, the rooms and suites are divine and showcase the best of modern Swedish styling of rooms, in the furniture and objects. For lovers of Scandinavian design, this is a wonderful place to visit for both the eye and the stomach.
After lunch I wander through the old town of Stockholm, stroll across some of the many bridges, revel in the sunshine, visit shops and simply people watch. As it happens, Stockholm Design Week has just begun and stores are alive with architects and designers enjoying the many events that are occurring across the city and everyone is in party mode.
Then it’s time to return to my hotel to sleep – and that’s when things really start to happen. Climbing under the doona I’m prepared to be sceptical. It feels very comfortable but is it worth the price tag (I’ll get to that soon). Yes, I’m tired but…Hold on it’s the next morning. What happened? I don’t remember falling asleep. And this continues for the next two nights. There is something to be said for a sound night’s sleep or two and I’m feeling wonderful.
The Hästen’s experience
The next day I’m off to where the magic is created, the Hästens factory at Köping (pronounced Sherping), one hundred and fifty kilometres from Stockholm. Hästens believes that through best sleep practice, one gains access to a better self, it is about investing in yourself through sleep.
Before I visit the factory, I stop at the Hästens flagship store that has every Hästen’s model on display. Part of the experience is to try every bed and so I kick off my shoes and begin the process. The signature patterned fabric is a stand out and everywhere I look I’m surrounded by a sea of blue and white check. Some beds are a little soft, some a touch harder and then I find the bed that is perfect for me. It’s a Goldilocks moment. It takes time to find exactly the right model but it is a labour of love and I almost fall asleep right there and then.
Once I know which bed has to be mine then it’s off to tour the factory. As I enter there is something unusual, it’s very quiet. The workers, or artisans, take time creating, making by hand, as here, quality is preferred over quantity. The craftsperson is at work, cutting by hand, with some machines for the heavy lifting but making each bed individually.
I find out that horsehair is the most important material in a Hästen’s bed. Each strand of horsehair is curled to become a tiny spring that works together with the internal spring system. As horsehair is a hollow strand, it acts as a ventilation system channelling away moisture to keep the bed dry. There are also cotton, flax, wool and pine used however, it is the horsehair sorted by hand that makes all the difference.
At the end of the tour, I am introduced to the signature bed, the Grand Vividus that has a six-month waiting list and is bespoke in all respects. Everything is crafted by hand, each spring is individually moulded and the result is extraordinary, but then so is the price at around 900,000 Australian dollars. While this is the top of the range, Hästens beds start at approximately 35,000 Australian dollars.
I am also introduced to Jan Ryde, the present CEO and fifth generation of the family business. Hästens began some 170 years ago with Pehr Adolf, a saddler who also made beds, as was the custom of the day. Over the generations each CEO has a story and Jan Ryde’s is one of love. He returned to the family business as he fell in love with a girl who worked on the factory floor and now, over his life-time, he has taken the Hästens name global.
After my tour I am escorted back to Stockholm and promptly enjoy another wonderful night’s sleep at my hotel. The next morning it’s time to explore more of the city that has touched my heart and enjoy the food, design and experiential delights that wandering the streets presents.
And then the time is gone, I pack my bag and head to Arlanda Airport for home. I ponder something Ryde said when we met, talking of the cost of a Hästens bed, he said that the price we pay for a car is often high, when we spend more time in our beds. Where is the money best spent? Now that’s food for thought.
While not everyone will fly from Melbourne to Stockholm to sleep on a bed, for me it was an extraordinary experience and, of course, the delights of Stockholm made my journey extra special, the architecture, the river, those Swedish meatballs and mounds of prawns on bread for lunch, there really is nothing better.
However, there is a light at the end of the sleep tunnel as Hästens is now available in Australia, through Great Dane. It’s something that I’ll be planning for, as once tried never forgotten. Ah, to sleep, perchance to dream.
Jan Henderson travelled to Sweden as a guest of Hästens.