Sweden Travel Guide
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If any hotel can buck that strangely persistent masculine naming trend, surely we can count on a girls' school-turned-hotel to do so. And so, here we have the prim sounding, new member of the Design Hotels Collection, Miss Clara,from Sweden's Nobis Group.
Centrally located north of Kungsgatan Avenue, the century-old Art Nouveau building that houses the former Ateneum girl’s school has been lovingly restored under the direction of Gert Wingårdh of architecture firm Wingårdhs. High ceilings and large windows remain intact and all 92 rooms follow the hot Swedish architect’s unique concept of an outward-facing property, where the windows facing Sveavägen boulevard are treated as "center stage".
Hotels love to show off their suites and especially to point out what makes them unique. Sometimes it’s the famous designer who created it, sometimes it’s the view, and sometimes it’s the amenities. Well now you can have your own custom designed suite—made entirely of ice—that has none of these attributes, and a price tag that has us gasping for air. This unprecedented experience is being offered by Sweden’s ICEHOTEL, pioneers in ice art and now ‘haute couture’ on the rocks.
If anyone can pull this off constructively and creatively it is ICEHOTEL, who has been busy every winter for the last 25 years, giving new meaning to the term “walk in cooler.” Now let’s cut to the chase – the price for your ice fantasy is about $231,000. No, this is not a typo. Let’s see what you get for it.
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Stockholm-based Scandic Hotels gave itself a great 50th Anniversary gift last year, announcing the launch of a spinoff brand for a new generation of traveler (ahem, Millennials)-- HTL Hotels.
The first hotel under the new flag, HTL Kungsgatan, is scheduled to open this May with 274 rooms in Stockholm. The concept is simple-- provide an affordable, Nordic-mod (we just made that up), digital and mobile friendly, urban accommodation that leaves out what you don’t want anyway.
Nordic Hotels has long been technology driven, and we congratulate Scandic for receiving “the digital winner” award earlier this month (HSMAI European Award) for their on-line check out system.
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The original ICEHOTEL in Jukkasjärvi, 120 miles above the Arctic Circle in Northern Sweden has just reopened (in -31F temperatures) for its 24th year. As happens every year, artists from around the world are invited to design the hotel's 13 suites. They each spent about a month on their suites and here's what they came up with.
Last year Christian Strömqvist and Karl-Johan Ekeroth of PINPIN Studios designed a room with a Star Trek theme; this year's creation is (what they describe as)
"a Frankenstein-esque art suite titled It’s Alive! They welcome you into the laboratory of a crazy scientist, complete with mysterious gadgets, huge tesla coils, a hatch in the ceiling and a bed where the monster can come alive...a visually exiting scenography and lets the visitors decide for themselves if they want to play the part of the monster or of the scientist. In this room, a quite scary story is turned into a humoristic and positive, yet thrilling, experience ... Just like Dr Frankenstein created life from dead materials with the help of lightning."
Sweden's Salt & Sill sits -- or should we say floats -- on the western coast of the country and is more of an inn than a hotel, sporting only 23 rooms with 46 beds.
It was built upon pontoons and sailed to its current location in 2008 (shown above), where it is tied (very tightly!) to the dock in a calm inlet on the rocky island of Tjorn, about an hour’s drive from Gothenburg. It was the first floating hotel built in Sweden, and while other locations within the country have begun to experiment with prototypes of the concept, it is the only one of its kind that is fully functional.
The islands off the coast of Sweden are relatively unknown to North American travelers, which is exactly what makes them such a great place to visit. You won’t find any high-rise hotels, and the rocky coastline squashes any worry of overdevelopment. Visiting them feels like you’ve stumbled upon an old fishing village where time refuses to catch up.
Salt & Sill embodies the area with its simplicity and emphasis on the sea, both in terms of its personality and cuisine. In the restaurant, you’ll find the Swedish staples – herring and smoked salmon, for example – and your days are filled with kayaking, boating, and walks by the sea. Summer is by no means long in Sweden, but the coastline is as beautiful as any when the sun does decide to come out.
Ever seen that Charlie Sheen movie The Chase? Remember how he steals the beautiful blonde's car and takes her hostage, but he charms her so well that she ends up straddling him as they cruise down the highway, her back to the steering wheel?
Typical Charlie, we know, but it's also a perfect example of what's called the Stockholm Syndrome -- when the victim begins to identify with the person holding the gun. It doesn't take a genius to figure out this phrase stems from Sweden, but how? And why? According to the FBI, roughly 27% of victims show evidence of Stockholm Syndrome during or after an incident.
Why compassion arises for captors is still up for debate, but we got an up-close look at the origin of the phenomenon last week during a visit to the new Hotel Nobis in Stockholm. In 1973, Stockholm made headlines around the world when a bank robber held four people hostage for six days. The southern part of the hotel building (the white part adjacent to the Nobis in the photo below) was where the bank used to be, where the hostages were held.
Raise your hand if you've had sex on the beach.
Congrats, you're one of a million. You got sand in your shorts (or worse). You positioned yourself in the corner of the small lifeguard stand. We're awfully proud. Did you watch the sunset and brush her hair behind her ear, too? Yawn.
Now, a show of hands, who's melted a forearm into a bed before? No? That's what we thought!
But, seriously, our headline is meant to be taken literally, kids. Ice hotels can be hella romantic, and the novelty of the experience will knock your socks off. Though keepin' 'em on is a special kind of sexy we can't imagine.
We're fresh off a stay at Sweden's Ice Hotel, and we can tell you firsthand the stories of individuals breaking a sweat in the heat of the night are totally true. Can you get sticky in your sleeping bag? Youbetcha!
So instead of moaning about the plummeting temps outside, we'll show you how it can get steamy, even in the Arctic.
It’s no secret we love a swanky suite, but ones dedicated to Hollywood divas of yesteryear are even better. The Radisson Blu Strand Stockholm is celebrating its 100th anniversary with a new suite named after one of its most famous guests, Greta Garbo.
The Greta Garbo Suite is inspired by the star's costumes and jewelry, as well as art and items from her movies of which grace the black and gold room, and were given to the hotel by Garbo’s family, who still holiday there and had a hand in the design.
Garbo, who was born in Sweden, first visited the 152-room hotel as an aspiring actress back in the ‘20s and it continued to be her favorite spot well after she made it big in Tinseltown.
Though they've dabbled in the real estate business for a while now, internationally-known furniture megastore IKEA is getting ready to dive into the hotel business with a string of 100 "budget design" hotels across Europe—and the first one is scheduled to open in Germany.
The announcement came yesterday, about a week after the company's net worth was revealed to be a staggering €9 billion.
Clearly, they've got the dough to build whatever the heck kind of hotels they want to. But, in the interest of making even more money, the company has decided to focus on the trendy (and lucrative) budget hotel market. And though the hotels will not be branded or operated by the company, IKEA will build, develop and own them.
We assume, of course, that they'll also be supplying all the furniture.
Engelbrekt Church, a Stockholm monument near the site of a proposed boutique hotel that has locals "up in arms"
Residents of one of Stockholm's most well-to-do neighborhoods are throwing a ritzy hissy fit over the construction of a new hotel, though it's unclear whether they take issue with the fact that the boutique property will require converting a historic building, because it won't live up to their posh standards, or a combination of both.
Hotel Chatter admits a soft spot for Swedes, what with the bounty of pop culture gifts with which they've furnished the world (like, you know, Robyn, IKEA, and The Fun Theory campaign). The notably upbeat Scandinavians harbor a mutual love for aspects of American culture, such as…sourdough bread?
Lots of unhappy hotel guests slam budget hotel furniture, or just ugly hotel furniture, by saying it's been store-bought from IKEA. So we're guessing they should probably never visit Vardshuset Hotell and Restaurang, the official IKEA Hotel, located next to the company's headquarters in Almhult, Sweden.
We learned about the existence of the hotel through the New Yorker's recent story on the IKEA culture, when the reporter, Lauren Collins, actually spent a night at the hotel. Here's what she said:
That night I stayed at the IKEA Hotel. Its web site promises, "Guests sleep well and wake up refreshed without art or frills." The lounge area was bright, like a scene from the IKEA catalogue. I sat on a candy-striped KARLSTAD chair and listened to supply managers discuss the respective turn-around times of China and Pakistan in global English. Swedish-speaking men with mustaches wore short-sleeved plaid shirts and drank Eriksberg beer...
Behind the reception desk was a series of candy jars filled with gummi bears and caramels. Why was the receptionist smiling so broadly? were the toasting salesmen bit players in some sort of Almhultian "Truman Show"?
Later that night, when she went up to her room for bed, there was a "pair of spartan single beds" and on top of the pine desk sat two books--the New Testament and the IKEA catalogue.