Throughout the week, we’ve covered Swedish design, fashion, food, music, film… but if you fancy taking a trip to Sweden yourself, travel writer Emma Sheppard has found some amazing places to stay…
The iconic Grand Hotel in Stockholm dates back to 1874 and overlooks the harbour and Grand Palace. It is intrinsically linked to the city’s history, being where the first Nobel Prizes were awarded (from 1901-1929). Today, it is in an ideal location for seeing the sights – boat trips leave from outside the entrance, and the shops and museums, and Gamla Stan old town are all within walking distance. If you’re not staying, it’s worth a trip here for the food alone – the hotel is home to the two-Michelin-starred Matsalen and the one-Michelin-starred Matbaren. Alternatively, try the smörgâsbord at the more relaxed Veranda restaurant. There’s a two-storey spa that guests get free access to and all the spacious bedrooms have free Wi-Fi. Stay from £200 per night.
‘Ett Hem’ means ‘a home’ in Swedish, although this boutique property is like no home I’ve ever owned – it’s much better. The townhouse has just 12 rooms and is a short walk to the upmarket Stureplan district and Vanadislunden Park (of which many rooms have views). Inside, the décor mixes vintage touches with a modern, clean finish (Isle Crawford of Soho House fame collaborated with the owner on the design) and guests are welcomed as part of the family. Help yourself to wine in the fridge and homemade cakes throughout the day, borrow a book from the library, or sit in the kitchen chatting to the chef while your dinner is prepared. There’s a gym and traditional Swedish sauna, plus massages can be organised on request. The double rooms are on the small side but everything is just beautiful. Stay from £296 per night.
My wallet-friendly pick for Stockholm is in Skeppsholmen, a 10-minute drive or boat ride from Stockholm city centre. The island is home to the Museum of Modern Art and renovated sailing ship af Chapman which is now a youth hostel (if you fancy it, private rooms are around £30 per night). But the main reason for coming here is the Hotel Skeppsholmen. This eco-property is 300 years old (comprised of two listed barracks) and the island’s leafy surroundings make you feel like you’re staying in the middle of the countryside. Make time for at least one evening meal at the on-site Långa Raden restaurant – the food is really very tasty. Rooms are from £112 per night. Book through the hotel’s own website for free breakfast and Wi-Fi.
Chances are you will venture to one of Sweden’s many archipelagoes while visiting the country. An hour’s drive to the west of Gothenburg, Salt & Sill is the country’s first floating hotel and has 23 rooms housed on a pontoon, plus a suite with an outdoor Jacuzzi. They have been ingeniously designed so that you get the best water views while in bed and unsurprisingly have a nautical theme running throughout. There isn’t lots of room so pack lightly. Originally a restaurant, the property is renowned for its incredibly fresh fish and spiced herring. A night here will cost from £155.
On the remote island of Käringön (100km west of Gothenburg and accessible by helicopter or boat), lies Karingo Oyster Bar. A truly unique place to stay, this is a collection of nine cottages, lofts and boathouses, plus a very well regarded oyster restaurant. Enjoy the local specimens in the seawater hot tub, washed down with a chilled glass of champagne. All of the accommodation is different but worth a mention is the Boat House for its magnificent views over the fjord (suitable for a minimum of four people, for £78 per person, per night).
If you’re stopping in Gothenburg itself, Upper House is consistently the area’s top-rated hotel on TripAdvisor. It is situated on the top five floors of one of the Gothia Towers and is known for its views over Liseberg amusement park – particularly from the glass-bottom outdoor pool. An impressive breakfast spread is served in the morning (think pork belly topped with a fried egg) and the restaurant keeps the quality high during the rest of the day. The bedrooms come with more of those views, free Wi-Fi, and complimentary access to the on-site spa. It’s not bang in the city centre, but a 10-minute taxi ride or short train journey to Centralstation from Göteborg Korsvägen (140 metres from the hotel) is perfectly doable. Rooms cost from £184 per night.
If you ever longed for a treehouse growing up, you owe it to yourself to stop at Treehotel in Harads. This eco-lodge has six ‘treerooms’ spread through the tall pine forest, accessed via floating walkways and handcrafted ladders. The pods have been beautifully finished and the views are stunning, particularly if you are lucky enough to be there when the Northern Lights make an appearance. Worth a mention is the Mirror Cube, which seems to disappear in the landscape, and the UFO. You’ll need to walk the five minutes to Britta’s Guesthouse to shower, where there are saunas, a restaurant, shared kitchen and open-air hot tub for guests too. During the day, have a go on the property’s 350-metre zipline, explore one of the numerous walks and mountain bike trails, or try kayaking and fishing on the River Lule. Rooms are £350 per night.
The world’s first Icehotel opened its doors in Jukkasjärvi in 1989. It’s located 200km north of the Arctic Circle, on the banks of the Torne River, and is a must-see for guests visiting Sweden’s far north. The ice portion of the building is only open from December-April – by spring it has melted – but there are warm rooms available all year round. The cool rooms and ice portion of the hotel are always unique, and are worked on by up to 50 different artists each year. Temperatures get as low as –°5 inside and guests are provided with warm jackets and boots. Also on-site is the original Icebar, with glasses made entirely out of ice, and the restaurant (while a great deal warmer) serves a four or six-course menu presented on plates of ice. You can also try cross-country skiing, husky sledging, and ice sculpting during your stay (extra charges apply). Discover the World has a three-night package including flights from London and transfers from £988 per person (based on two sharing).
Görvälns Slott is a lovely boutique manor house north of Stockholm that dates back to the 17th century. The décor is quirky but impressive, and differs between each of the 38 bedrooms. The hotel claims to have the most comfortable beds in Sweden (they have down mattresses and duvets), and personal touches are effortlessly woven into the experience – look out for the ‘sleep well’ notes at turndown. Foodies will be especially impressed by the five-course tasting menu and accompanying wines – expect chanterelle sandwich with spiced cheese, tartar of deer with gooseberries and raspberry yoghurt ice cream. There are expansive grounds offering walking and hiking opportunities, and there’s a lake for swimming in the summer. A note for parents with little ones – children under eight are not allowed in the main Manor House (including the restaurant). Rooms cost from £117 per night.
Fabriken Furillen (see main image) used to be a working quarry. In a north-eastern corner of Gotland island, the hotel is surrounded by rugged piles of limestone, deserted beaches and industrial landscape. It was a labour of love for photographer Johan Hellström and his wife, who have created 18 rooms using recycled local materials. The result is an eco-friendly, modern design that favours tones of grey and still has heavy chains hanging from the restaurant ceiling. Some of the rooms have cast-iron fireplaces, others have terraces to take in the views. Particularly impressive is the Weighmaster’s Suite, which is a freestanding cabin that overlooks the hotel itself and the sea. Borrow one of the hotel’s vintage-look Skeppshult bike for free, or take a ferry to the nearby island of Färö. Rooms are from £150 per night and summer dates will be available to book in the new year (the hotel only caters for groups in the winter).
On Sweden’s north-east coast, facing Finland across the Gulf of Bothnia, Umeå was named the European Capital of Culture in 2014 and is known for its university and cross-country skiing trails. Historically, it was a seafaring town and the Stora Hotellet, which dates back to 1895, remains true to that heritage. The recently refurbished rooms range from decadent captains’ suites to compact sailors’ cabins and feature fishing nets, model ships in bottles, and port-hole mirrors. The property is centrally located, so exploring the town’s museums or escaping to the nearby countryside (look out for reindeer!) is a breeze. Rooms at the Stora Hotellet are from £77 per night.
A seafront location, award-winning spa and champagne bar, Ystad Saltsjobad has a lot to offer the discerning traveller. Past guests rave about the Creek Experience, a two-hour full-body treatment in the spa that includes a hamam, Moroccan clay mask and sauna (costing £46 per person). General entry to the spa, and use of its pools, jacuzzi, saunas and more is included for guests. Upstairs, the standard bedrooms are on the small side but Wi-Fi is free throughout and the upgraded rooms have views over the white-sand beach and the Baltic Sea. There are two restaurants – Port (upmarket seafood, with a classic nautical theme) and Vitas (a more relaxed American/French-style bistro). If you want to explore further afield than the immediate area, Ystad is also only an hour’s drive from Copenhagen, making it an easy day trip. Expect rooms here to set you back £229 per night.
Read more from Emma Sheppard on her blog