We’re Vibs and Robert Sohlberg, the owners of Slussens Pensionat. When we came here nearly 30 years ago we thought we’d stay for the summer but never left. If you come here, you’ll understand why!
Our start capital, which we borrowed, was 5000 SEK. We used it to get a frying pan, a couple of good knives and some essentials for the pantry, and then we were ready to open the restaurant. Not that we had so much to do that first summer – there was plenty of time to peel potatoes, wash up by hand, pick flowers and sew aprons, have babies and feed them, play and sing, as well as make and serve food. The hotel was run then by a little not for profit arts organisation who organised exhibitions and a few music evenings during summer. When we eventually bought the hotel, after a couple of years, we built on that tradition.
Our musical friends from Gothenburg came out to help us get the place going: Björn Afzelius, Totta Näslund, Ulf Dageby, Bengan Blomgren, Sonya Hedenbratt, Gunnar Danielson, Evabritt Strandberg and many others. During the first years it was often Robert himself who was the entertainment, throwing off his apron straight after a long stint as chef in the kitchen and taking over the stage instead. His house band have changed shape and name many times over the years – High Noon, Biggles Bubbles, Le Big and today Big is Less – but it’s always the house band nights that fill the dance floor.
We ran the hotel as a summer venue for the first ten years but since 1997 both the hotel and restaurant have been open almost all year round for conferences and weekend guests. The list of artists has grown over the years, as has our contact network, and nowadays we venture to claim that we are one of Sweden’s most interesting music venues, not least because we stage the musicians in such an intimate space and serve great food as well.
Slussens Pensionat started off as a canning factory, built in 1926. The herring were landed directly from the sea, cut into small pieces and pickled. The fish was filleted on a long table that has been in the building ever since. Nowadays it’s used as the buffet table on the veranda and the top table when we host weddings. The factory went bankrupt in the thirties and was bought by an enterprising woman from Anfasteröd on the other side of the fjord. Alfrida Andersson had long worked on the steam boats that ran from Slussen and no doubt noticed the factory’s lovely setting, nestled in the bay. She built on a veranda, and an annex on the slope, decorated the rooms and painted the outside white. A lovely seaside hotel had come to Slussen. Affluent Gothenburgers flocked here to stay full or half board, take some bracing salty swims, and enjoy Alfrida’s renowned cookery skills.