The Grand Hotel is set in shimmering splendor on the waterfront, opposite the Swedish Royal Palace and Gamla Stan, Stockholm’s old town.
It’s perfectly located for a Stockholm city getaway – a 20-minute journey from the airport (do as the Swedes and take the fast, easy Arlanda Express train, then it’s a two-minute subway ride or a five-minute taxi ride if you’re inundated with luggage , how we were).
Stockholm itself is just a two-hour flight from London, which means the journey from take-off to check-in can be done in three hours. Once you are ready for exploration, a bevy of tourist boats move just outside the hotel doors, waiting to escort you along the city canals and to the sights.
Tram, bus and metro are all within a three-minute walk for easy travel around Stockholm. Most of the best museums and attractions in the city, such as Djurgården Island, perfect for families with its Skansen open-air museum, Gröna Lund theme park and the amazing Vasa naval museum and Abba museum, are easily reachable on foot.
The very friendly lobby belies the hotel’s large size – there are about 270 rooms – while tourists mingle chatting and the understated but very knowledgeable concierge team helps plan your day.
As grand as the name promises – it first opened in 1874 – but with a scandi-chic vibe, so it’s relaxed rather than stuffy. The Grand is a perfect mix of glitzy luxury – lobby and stairways with gold accents, bright red awnings on balconies overlooking the harbor – and absolute comfort. Modern and beautiful floral arrangements are scattered around rather than ostentatious displays, and the bedrooms are decorated in muted Scandinavian tones.
Most of the rooms are cozy rather than huge, as one would expect from such a central hotel; they are dominated by a bed that you will never want to leave: a rigid mattress transformed into a cloud of sheets that made us go hunting for a label to see if we can find it in one of the many Scandi household goods stores.
Choose a Superior Room with a water view in the summer months and you can perch on a mini wrought iron terrace and admire the sparkling water and the city that wakes up every month – it’s a truly special sight. In-room binoculars almost help you peek inside the Royal Palace opposite and explore Strömkajen harbor from above.
The room decor includes plenty of soothing duck eggs, cream and greige, with chairs to curl up in and plan an adventure in Stockholm. There are high ceilings and the bathrooms house a vast black marble tub, perfect for soaking up the effects of a day of 20,000 steps from a tired body. Millennial pink and gray curtains block the buzz of the city at night.
Breakfast on the veranda isn’t the standard international fare offered at some hotels – you know you’re in Sweden as you taste vinegared cucumber salad, ginger biscuits, fresh berries, smoked salmon, crusty knäckebröd bread and cold cuts. This is in addition to the usual eggs, fresh juices and smoothies, yogurt (Turkish not Greek), cereals and breads. Kids will love the pancakes and hot chocolate with whipped cream and marshmallows. And I devoured handfuls of the most delicious homemade raspberry cookies as if they were a perfectly respectable way to start the day.
The famous Swedish chef Mathias Dahlgren has two restaurants in the hotel; local hotspot Matbaren (think marinated raw perch and steamed chicken sandwiches) and vegetarian restaurant Rutabaga (the green truffle “foie gras” with wheat croutons and jasmine rice in salad leaves with fried onion, ginger, pear nashi and wasabi are key dishes).
The experience of the Nordic bath in the spa is not to be missed: multiple pine-scented saunas, frozen pool, central pool with fire rings, endless Turkish baths; add the huge body brushes and your skin will never feel better. There is a well-equipped gym, as well as outdoor jogging paths.
Tourists, families, and executives mingle and chat in the lobby – it’s unusually friendly – and the doormen have an electric tuk-tuk for local outings if you like, as well as offering free drinks and bananas at the door to kickstart a day’s tour tourist.
Our three full days in Stockholm included visiting some of the best children’s museums we found in the world, Astrid Lindgren’s Junibacken and the vast Skansen, as well as the Tekniska museet (science and technology museum) and the small but perfect for the emergency – children obsessed with services Museo Polis (Police). The Vasa museum of a recovered four-hundred-year-old shipwreck is unique and brilliantly crafted, while the Swedish food scene is incredible, and during the summer months there are green squares and parks to play in along almost any route in the city.
Families looking for a luxury school vacation in the city will love The Grand’s food, friendly service, and location. Couples who want to walk around the city all day and relax in the spa in the evening before reaching the city will have a great time – it’s hard to think of anyone who wouldn’t like this hotel, only its final bills are a bit unpleasant, but this it’s Scandinavia for you.
Superior double rooms start at £ 275 in low season, £ 390 in high season; grandhotel.se