brick corner townhouse in european city with a garden in back
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Ett Hem

Ett Hem is an effortlessly chic, 12-room boutique jewel box of a hotel, from Ilse Crawford, centrally located in Lärkstaden, Stockholm, Sweden.

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Grand Hotel Stockholm facade

Grand Hôtel Stockholm

There’s a fine line between a grande dame and an old maid. The Grand has been trying to keep on the right side of that line for many years. They’ve refurbished the rooms, and given them lighter, more modern décor. They’ve spruced up the bar, giving it a regal amethyst-and-emerald color scheme. The restaurant, one of the hotel’s main attractions, continues to excel with its famous smorgasbord in the summer and Julbord (Christmas table) in the winter. The hotel has even added an impressive spa in the basement that has a wonderfully Nordic vibe to it. Where better to get a Swedish massage?

And yet… there’s still a historic feel to the place, and there probably always will be. There’s a certain distinguished atmosphere that no amount of modernizing seems to entirely blow away, probably in part due to the fact that the hotel welcomes the Noble laureates every December, as well as many large conferences throughout the year. The location is terrific, right in the heart of town, next to the National Museum and an easy walk from the Modern Museum, and the view of the palace and harbor are unrivaled. You should certainly splurge on a room with a water view. And whether you are a guest in the hotel or not, having a meal at one of Mathias Dahlgren's two on-property restaurants, Matbaren and Seafood Gastro, is a must. A third restaurant, Grand Soliel, overlooks the water and is inspired by the French and Italian Rivieras.

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Hotel at Six

With a prime location in Brunkebergstorg, surrounded by the city's best boutiques and restaurants, the Hotel At Six offers quintessential Scandinavian elegance with a youthful twist. Originally designed in the 1970s as a bank, the hotel was reimagined to embrace the existing minimalist aesthetic but bring in warm and contemporary elements. Guests are welcomed to the lobby, which is all dark marble, plush grey couches, dim lighting and an imposing granite staircase, populated with well-dressed guests and employees. Striking contemporary artwork is on display throughout the property, including works by several greats such as Olafur Eliasson. The entire art collection is curated by the lauded Sune Nordgren, who also hand-picked artwork for The Thief in Oslo.

The hotel's 343 rooms and suites are similarly designed, with a muted palette of whites, browns and blacks, complemented by large windows and plush pillows. Several suites feature sleek marble credenzas and balconies, while the hotel's crown jewel, the Masterpiece Suite, offers a private rooftop terrace, a special art collection and a freestanding bathtub carved from Nero Marquina black stone marble.

Perhaps more notable than the rooms are the hotel's distinctive dining and lifestyle offerings, many of which are reasons alone to stay at the hotel. The signature restaurant is the Dining Room at Six, an all-day eatery serving contemporary Swedish cuisine inspired by the seasons, which draws crowds thanks to its sophisticated fare, 28-page wine list and afternoon 'tipsy tea.' This signature experience has become a hit with Stockholm locals due to its gin-infused cocktails and sweet treats served to the sounds of vinyl music. Blanche & Hierta is the hotel's clever take on a wine bar and coffee house, and serves snacks and drinks daily, along with signature fika. There is also a trendy bar with a billiard table and comprehensive cocktail list.

When not exploring Stockholm and enjoying the hotel's offerings, there is an impressive gym and wellness area with in-house personal trainers and wellness instructors.

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Island Lodge

Located in the Stockholm Archipelago, Island Lodge is a luxury tented camp that combines elements of a boutique hotel, a safari lodge and a campsite.
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Lydmar Hotel

This unassuming property by legendary Swedish hotel owner Pelle Lydmar, is located in a freestanding, seemingly small and unmarked building in the center of Stockholm. Having the Grand Hotel between you and the drum of traffic, and with views across the water of the Royal Palace and Old Town, the Lydmar couldn’t be in a better location. The exterior façade is stacked with large windows, beneath which are tables and chairs in a makeshift courtyard for sunset admirers/onlookers. Almost completely surrounded by water (two connecting inlets surround three sides), it feels as though you are staying on your own private island. The restaurant beside the lobby is alive and welcoming for the whole of the day. I was drawn to the plethora of books, games (specifically an old version of trivial pursuit), trinket-filled shelves teeming with memories, and the chesterfield couches. The food was delicious, and the diverse menu offers something for everyone.

On each floor, there are living-room spaces with floor-to-ceiling windows and a variety of books available, handpicked by Lydmar, to encourage an afternoon at leisure. As the building once hosted the German Embassy in the 1920’s, I imagine a secretary might have sat where the plush couches currently do, welcoming visitors in an earlier era. The hotel is meant to feel like a private residence, a place where you can spend your time without being disturbed, but still well attended to. There is no wall space left empty, framed art and photography greet you throughout. The greatest amount of coverage is dedicated to photographs from documentary photographer James Nachtwey. The 45 individually furnished rooms, spread over five floors, come in four categories—classic, medium, large and extra-large—all of which feel masculine and sleek, warm and modern, at the same time. There is also a large suite with a small, medium and large room for large families or a group of friends. Book a room or suite in the 01 line, which have direct views of the waterfront overlooking the Royal Palace and the Old Town. The 14 and 15 lines, at the back of the building have courtyard and partial water views.

The three giant windows in my medium room opened to a quiet hidden park below, and in the distance were views of the water and Strandvägen, one of the poshest streets in town. For a medium category room, there was a lot of space (in Parisian terms, the room would have been a deluxe suite, at the least.) There are one and a half baths, both covered in matted charcoal slate tiles and brand-new fixtures. Attention has been paid to every corner of the room —from the modern mixed with antique furniture to the wall fabrics and bathroom fittings, no detail has been spared. Many of the items throughout the hotel, including the antique jewelry boxes, National Geographic issues from the ’80’s, and pictures are actually personal possessions from Lydmar’s childhood, an appropriately personal touch for this sleek home away from home.

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Lobby at Nobis, Stockholm, Sweden

Nobis

Despite being a trendy hotel, Nobis appeals to more than just the party set. For one thing, the location is fabulous. It stands on Norrmalmstorg, a square in the heart of everything, so you are just steps from Birger Jarlsgatan and Biblioteksgatan, two of the liveliest shopping streets in town. It’s just a walk of a minute or so to NK, the city’s great department store, or to Svenskt Tenn, the famous interior design store. Many of the best bars and restaurants are a stone’s throw away, but it’s also easy to stroll over to the Old Town from here.

Residents regularly drop into the hotel to drink cocktails in the Gold Bar or grab international cuisine at Noi Restaurant. Then there is the lounge, which is well worth a visit: a soaring atrium with a stunning seven-meter crystal light fixture that goes by the name of Octopussy. Be sure when checking in that your room is not above the lounge or else a peaceful night’s sleep will be unlikely. Request a room in one of the other wings and all will be well.

The 201 rooms are done in a somber color palate that is inspired by the Swedish winter—don’t worry, it’s far more inviting than it sounds—and are designed by Claesson Koivisto Rune, one of the hottest design firms in town. The only quibble is that sometimes style trumps practicality—when will designers learn that having sufficient shelf space in a bathroom is a true luxury?

What is faultless is the service. For a hotel that is so fashionable, there’s not a trace of snooty attitude from the front desk staff; they are always eager to help. Additionally, the hotel features a small gym.

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Courtesy Skeppsholmen

Skeppsholmen

Don’t be alarmed to hear that the Skeppsholmen is on an island—the whole city is made up of islands. And this one (Skeppsholmen, the same name as the hotel) is very central and yet largely non-residential. As a result, this is perhaps the most peaceful hotel in town. You can be sure you won’t be disturbed by car noise or late night revelers when you check in here.

The hotel is in two historic buildings, former army quarters dating from the 17th century, and the current owners (it is a sibling hotel to the Nobis) had to get approval for every single change they made. For that reason, the 80 rooms are small and still somewhat monastic—bare white walls, wooden floors—though they’re extremely comfortable thanks to great beds. With its well-worn stone staircases and quirky layout, the hotel retains a historic atmosphere which most folks will find charming, but some might prefer a more contemporary setting (not to mention elevators to help them upstairs).

One of the most unusual features of the hotel is its tennis court, which is one of the oldest in the land, dating back to 1882 when it was commissioned by King Oscar II. The hotel is happy to arrange a tennis pro to come and give you some lessons. (Another fun feature is that a warehouse on the property once served as ABBA’s recording studio.)

To get to the heart of town you can easily walk (no more than one minute), or take a bus or ferry. The island’s main attraction is the nearby Moderna Museet, which, in addition to its art collection, is terrific for a relaxed weekend brunch with great views over the harbor.

Alternatively, you can have an excellent brunch in the hotel or on the gorgeous terrace overlooking the water. It’s so good it attracts Stockholmers, who also come for lunch or an afternoon coffee (there’s even a once-a-year herring festival). Once they depart, the hotel is again utterly peaceful and charming, even though you are so close to town you can almost imagine you are sleeping in the Stockholm archipelago. It’s a rare combination of qualities.

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bar with upside down glasses and greenery

Villa Dagmar

Villa Dagmar is the answer to our travel prayers for a pretty, well-located boutique hotel at a reasonable price point in Stockholm. 

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