Sprawling over 14 islands, where Lake Mälaren flows into the Baltic Sea, the hip Scandinavian capital of Stockholm is aesthetically magnificent. Steeped in history and Old World charm, the city also showcases smart design—as to be expected from the style-conscious, trend-setting Swedes. This floating city is centered around the medieval old town of Gamla Stan, a picturesque island of narrow streets, cobbled squares and church spires. However, just a quick hop over to the next island in the archipelago is the design-savvy SoFo district (south of Folkungagatan Street in bohemian Södermalm), where designer boutiques abound. Even Stockholm's subway system—with its dynamic art exhibits—is cool. But nowhere is the city's daring design more manifest than in its beautiful hotels.
The best time to plan a visit to Stockholm is during the summer months, especially in June when the sun barely sets. Sunlight dances over Stockholm's grand neoclassical structures, lingering late into the night and inspiring people to pack the sidewalk cafés. Thus, May through September is high season, and the most difficult time to book rooms.
The newest hotel on the scene is the
Spanning categories from Moderate and Standard to Superior and Deluxe, the guest rooms are generously sized compared to other hotels in the city center. Insiders tell us that the Standard Park View category is popular because of the large windows overlooking the city and the park. The Deluxe Rooms and Suites also boast great city views. There are eight Triangle Suites, which are equipped with a spacious living room and separate bedroom, excellent workspace, two flat-screen TVs and floor-to-ceiling windows. Feel free to contact the general manager, Tobias Ekman (
Pampering at the Spa
The Clarion Sign is also home to the Selma City Spa+, on the rooftop of the eighth floor, which provides panoramic views over the rooftops and boats lining the Karlberg Canal. The spa boasts a sauna, year-round heated outdoor pool, gym and terrace, and uses the Dermalogica product line. Insiders tell us that the Champagne Treatment and Chocolate Treatment are already quite popular among the hotel's clientele. It's best to book treatments in advance. Contact Spa Manager Martina Lindberg ([email protected]; 46 8 676 98 95) before your clients' arrival. You also may contact the guest services manager, Lina Personne (
Don't miss a meal at the hotel's talked-about restaurant, Aquavit Grill & Raw Bar. Chef Marcus Samuelsson created a Scandinavian legend in Manhattan and has now brought the famous restaurant to Stockholm. Specialties include NY Strip Steaks, seafood platters with lobster, wild boar ribs and bite-size appetizers, such as pickled herring tacos and Bleak Roe. At lunchtime, the GravLax sandwich is a favorite.
The Hotel Rival
Each of the 99 guest rooms is sleek and sophisticated without compromising comfort. Rooms are individually designed and are a perfect blend of form and function. Deluxe Rooms look out over the leafy square of Mariatorget, an animated neighborhood on the southern island of Södermalm, while Standard and Superior Rooms overlook the quiet interior courtyard. All rooms feature pillow menus, DUX beds with heavenly linens and Egyptian cotton sheets, a signature teddy bear from Debenhams, and 32-inch plasma screen TVs. Other fun perks: a Sony PlayStation and a free film and CD library at the front desk. The seventh-floor suites are particularly spacious, with added amenities like free wireless Internet. Rooms 704, 705 and 706 have furnished balconies overlooking the square.
Keep in mind that some rooms feature "peekaboo baths," where open-plan bathrooms with a windowed wall expose bathers to their fellow guests and visitors. Though touted by the press as the next big thing for hip hotels, this configuration might be unappealing for some clients.
Buzz: With a new
Since its opening in 1874, the
It goes without saying that you should book your VIPs at the leading luxury hotel in Scandinavia. (The star-studded guest list includes the likes of Madonna, Elton John, the Dalai Lama and Greta Garbo—who considered the Grand her home away from home after leaving Sweden for America.) The Flag Suite and Nobel Suite both offer heart-stopping views from the seventh-floor, but the suite to book is the Princess Lilian. Measuring 3,552 square feet, the suite boasts a private cinema for 12 people, library with office facilities, two bedrooms and a lounge with a grand piano and bar. The spa bathroom has a sauna, which has five different scenarios, three variations of showers and a handmade mosaic bath for two. (Although most rooms feature toiletries by Molton Brown, all suites are currently testing L'Occitane amenities for a three-month period.) The water views from the two terraces are stunning. Note that you cannot book the Princess Lilian Suite over the GDS. Contact Guest Services (46 8 679 3575) or the general manager, Nils Axing (
The Grand Hotel will open a spa and new fitness facility in Spring 2009. There also has been quite a bit of buzz about the hotel's new restaurant, which opened in May 2007, by Mathias Dahlgren, arguably Sweden's finest chef. At the Restaurant Mathias Dahlgren, the chef has combined two complementary eateries in one establishment: Matbaren (The Food Bar) and Matsalen (The Dining Room). Also, the lunchtime smörgåsbord at the Veranda Restaurant is not to be missed. It is the best in Stockholm and the only one served year-round.
Getting Around: The city’s dramatic setting can be experienced on foot, bike (Stockholm provides bikes at stations throughout the city; visit Stockholm City Bikes) or by boat. A cruise through the archipelago’s waters is an absolute must. Strömma Kanalbolag offers a variety of guided boat tours to some of the 24,000 outlying islets. There are a number of impressive museums, including the Vasa Museum, housing the incredible salvaged warship dating from 1628; the Skansen open-air museum, where hosts in historic costumes show off 150 traditional houses and farmsteads and a zoological park; the National Museum, Sweden’s largest art museum; and the Moderna Museet, which is on the pretty island of Skeppsholmen. Catch a ferry to Drottningholm, home to the monumental Royal Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Eat/Drink: Café Opera, situated in the Royal Opera House, is the place to see and be seen. A meal at F12, which is in the Royal Academy of Art, is a must. A perfect option during the summer is a boat excursion to Fjäderholms Island for a crayfish party at the waterfront restaurant Fjäderholmarnas Krog. For breathtaking views, suggest cocktails at Sky Bar, on the top floor of the Radisson SAS Royal Viking Hotel. The Ice Bar at the trendy Nordic Sea Hotel is a hipster’s delight and the world’s first permanent ice bar.