Göteborg: big-time little city

Finding big meeting space with hotel rooms under the same roof to match is a big challenge in Europe but Sweden’s second city has the answer, writes Martin Lewis

Looking for huge, high quality, modern meetings and exhibition facilities in Europe with 1200 bedrooms under one roof with no need for expensive and time-consuming transfers? I have found it for you. It’s in Goteborg, Sweden. It took me 38 years in this business to become aware of it 100 years after it was built but the wait was worth it. Trust me, it’s a winner! And Göteborg Landvetter Airport offers direct flights from most European countries so it is perfect for a Pan-European meeting.

Every now and then, something in the events industry surprises you. Goteborg is one such. Not just because it’s a lovely city, although it is. But because of the gem it offers those event organisers looking for big, top quality event space with bedrooms on-site in a relatively small city.

When delegates finish a busy a day, the last thing they need is a tedious bus journey and a one-hour delay before their shower or a gin and tonic!  Transfers can be the ruin of a major event in a traffic-heavy city because they take time in a time-poor environment and also because they are an expensive line item in the budget. But you can forget about them in Goteborg. Svenska Massan/Gothia Towers is the perfect cure. The best thing about it? There is only one point of contact for all meeting, F&B and accommodation requirements and only one contract to sign!

Charlotte Perrelli


And the place has style. It combines Scandinavian cool efficiency with bright, warm colours to produce a welcoming environment for delegates in its bars and restaurants while rest and recuperation await just a lift away in one of the three towers above the public and events areas. The financial structure of the business means there is plenty of cash to be reinvested back in the building so, unlike many such venues, it doesn’t look tired or in need of a facelift because its charitable status means every Swedish Crown of surplus goes back into the building. The result is that the future looks bright with another two towers planned to add another 800 bedrooms to the venue – the third was only built in 2014! Gothia Towers is already one of the ten largest hotels in Europe. There are also 40,000 square metres of exhibition space, congress halls, meeting facilities, a wide choice of restaurants, a spa, art gallery and a dedicated show arena in the Svenska Massan complex.

Guests arrive for Svenska Massan’s 100th birthday party


I attended Svenska Massan’s 100th birthday celebration, together with customers from all over Europe, and the organisers produced an event that combined intelligence with stardust. The presentations and speeches told the story of how the Svenska Massan has been at the heart of Sweden’s democracy, bringing people together to meet and devise solutions to some of the world’s biggest problems for a century in peacetime and in times of conflict through the nation’s position of neutrality. More recently, Sweden has taken 200,000 refugees from Syria and the faces of the city reflect what is now a multi-ethnic, cosmopolitan society. The hostess for the evening, top  Swedish journalist, TV presenter and author Tilde de Paula was herself a refugee brought to Sweden by her parents from Chile. She spoke through tears, showing photos of her family in transit from Chile, of how Sweden had given her life chances to become hugely successful and how grateful she was for the type of society that Sweden was and is. It was a moving tribute that connected the 100th anniversary of the complex with the original philosophy of the project – to connect Sweden to the world through trade and open borders. That hasn’t changed.

The main entertainment for the event was provided by top Swedish singers and entertainers Charlotte Perrelli and Danny Saucedo (and they were fantastic) but there were additional stunning support acts involving a children’s choir and an amazing cabaret routine with fire and water. It was top drawer – as good as anything I have seen from Las Vegas to Berlin. Goteborg showed it is a big-time city for big events.