The newest Swedish word for sleepover is Ikea
Almhult doesn't call itself IKEAville, though it could.
Founder Ingvar Kamprad grew up on a nearby farm and established his first store here in 1958.
In 2012, a new outpost opened in Almhurst. It isn't the biggest store in the world (Kungens Kurva in Stockholm holds that title), but it does carry the largest range of Ikea products.
Four years later, the Ikea Museum arrived, coinciding with the expansion of the Ikea Hotell. Both sites run restaurants, and meatballs are on the menu. The only detail missing from my full-on Ikea immersion was losing my car in the immense parking lot. I took the train, because I didn't need to relive that nightmare.
This being Sweden, the land of subtlety, I didn't see any Ikea billboards or neon signs rubbing the charm off the village square.
Near the train station, I noticed a whisper of a sign that led me up and over the tracks and onto the Ikea campus.
The blue-and-yellow flags of Ikea and Sweden rustled in the wind like fraternal twin banners. Several Ikea buildings - Fastigheter, Communications, Test Lab and Tillsammans - lined the lot.
The Ikea Hotell dates from 1964, when the company built accommodations for shoppers who drove a distance to stroll through the showroom and order furniture.
In the lobby, I felt like one of those early customers. If only I had a clipboard so I could check off the items I wanted to take home.
Instead, I had to crawl on my hands and knees to look for the labels. When I couldn't find the product name, I approached the front desk.
"Can you please look up the cow-print ottoman for me?" I asked the attendant, pointing at the dairy farm-chic object in one of several seating areas.
He happily obliged - "I have time. I'm working till 6am" - and turned the computer screen to show me his findings. I could have played this game all night.
My room resided on the second floor in the new section of the hotel.
The guest rooms come in four categories, such as the Family Room, which features curtained bunk beds, and the 45-square-foot Cabin, ideal for solo travelers with retractable limbs.
I chose the Grand Lit, an update on the original Grand Standard.
If I had taken the museum tour before I had checked in, I might not have been so startled when I first entered the room.
Instead of the multi-textured and -patterned look on the ground floor, my room resembled a hospital recovery room. It contained a few pieces of furniture (bed, desk, chair) in soothing monochromatic tones (white, blue-gray, light wood). The hot pink hook and hanger provided the sole pops of color.
The second time I stepped inside, I had gained a better understanding of Kamprad's egalitarian and economical aesthetic, and I embraced the room with a newfound appreciation.
The minimal style, I now realized, upheld the principles of Democratic Design, a philosophy that promotes form, function, quality, sustainability and low price.
As long as I didn't raid the Borrow Cabinet, which was stocked with loaner accessories, I could honour Kamprad's spirit.
I just had to resist that fuzzy woolly mammoth throw.
Where to stay
The hotel is completely furnished with Ikea products, down to the trash can in the fitness center. The ground floor offers a restaurant, bar and gift shop - a mini-version of the museum shop across the parking lot. Guests can also prepare meals in a community kitchen on the second floor. Four room types are available for solo travelers, couples and families keen on bunk beds. Rates start at about $52 (about R800) per night and include a generous breakfast buffet.
Where to eat
Meatballs are the star of the menu. Stick with the traditional, which come with potatoes and lingonberries, or stretch your palate with veggie, salmon, chicken or oriental balls. And for dessert, chocolate balls. The cafe also serves salads and non-round sweets, such as Swedish cheesecake with cream and strawberry jam. Open daily 10am to 6pm; closed major holidays. Meatball platters about $8.The Washington Post