The Grand Hotel is situated in shining splendor on the waterfront, opposite Sweden’s Royal Palace and Gamla Stan, Stockholm’s Old Town.
It’s perfectly positioned for a Stockholm city break: a 20-minute journey from the airport (do like the Swedes and take the quick and easy Arlanda Express train, then it’s a two-minute metro ride or a five-minute taxi ride if you’re swamped with luggage, as we were).
Where is it?
Stockholm itself is only a two-hour flight from London, meaning the journey from take-off to check-in can be made in three hours. When you’re ready to explore, a host of sightseeing boats bob around just outside the hotel’s doors, waiting to take you along the city’s canals and to the sights.
Trams, buses and the metro are all within a three-minute walk away for easy travel around Stockholm. Most of the city’s best museums and attractions – such as the island of Djurgården, which is perfect for families with its Skansen open-air museum, Gröna Lund theme park and the amazing Vasaskipsmuseum and Abba museum – are within comfortable walking distance.
The very friendly lobby belies the hotel’s sheer size – there are around 270 rooms – as tourists congregate chat and the team of soft-spoken but highly knowledgeable concierges help you plan your day.
As grand as its name suggests – it first opened in 1874 – but with a Scandi-chic vibe, so it’s relaxed rather than stuffy. The Grand is a perfect blend of glittering luxury – gold-coloured lobby and stairwell, bright red awnings on balconies overlooking the harbor – and absolute comfort. Modern, beautiful flower arrangements are scattered around instead of flashy displays, and the bedrooms are decorated in muted Skandi tones.
Most of the bedrooms are cozy rather than huge, as you would expect from such a central hotel; they’re dominated by a bed you won’t want to leave: firm mattress transformed into a cloud of sheets that had us looking for a label to see if we could find it in one of the many Scandi homeware stores.
Choose a Superior Water View Room in the summer months and you’ll be able to sit on a mini wrought iron terrace and watch the sparkling water and the city wake each month – a very special view. Binoculars in the room help you almost peer into the royal palace opposite, as well as explore Strömkajen harbor from above.
Room decor involves lots of relaxing duck eggs, cream and greige, with chairs to curl up in and plan a Stockholm adventure. There are high ceilings and the bathrooms have a large black and marble bath, perfect for soaking up the effects of a day of 20,000 sightseeing steps out of a tired body. Thousand-year-old pink-and-grey curtains block out the city’s life at night.
Breakfast at The Veranda is not the standard international food offered at some hotels: you know you’re in Sweden when you’re eating vinegar cucumber salad, ginger biscuits, fresh berries, smoked salmon, crispy bread and cured meats. This is on top of the usual eggs, fresh juice and smoothies, yogurt (Turkish not Greek), cereal and bread. Children will be thrilled with pancakes and hot chocolate with whipped cream and marshmallows. And I devoured handfuls of the most delicious homemade raspberry biscuits 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 landmark Matbaren (think raw marinated perch and steamed chicken buns) and the vegetarian restaurant Rutabaga (truffle green “foie gras” with wheat croutons, and jasmine rice in lettuce leaves with deep-fried onions, ginger, nashi pear and wasabi are key dishes).
The Nordic bathing experience in the spa is not to be missed: several saunas with pine scent, ice-cold pool, central fire-surrounded swimming pool, endless steam rooms; add the huge body brushes and your skin will never feel better. There is a well-equipped gym as well as outdoor jogging routes.
Tourists, families and executives actually mingle and chat in the lobby – it’s unusually friendly – and the doormen have an electric tuk-tuk for local tours if you wish, as well as offering free drinks and bananas at the door to help you start your day with sightseeing.
Our three jam-packed days in Stockholm included visits to some of the best children’s museums we’ve found in the world, Astrid Lindgren’s Junibacken and sprawling Skansen, as well as the Tekniska Museum (Science and Technology Museum) and the small but perfect for emergencies. services-obsessed child Polis (Police) Museum. The Vasa Museum for a recovered four-hundred-year-old shipwreck is unique and brilliantly executed, while Sweden’s food scene is incredible and in the summer months there are green squares and parks to play in along almost every route around the city.
Families looking for a luxury city break during the school holidays will love The Grand’s food, friendly service and location. Couples looking to hit the town all day and lol at the spa a night before hitting the town will have a ball – it’s hard to think of anyone who wouldn’t love this hotel, just the final bill is a bit of a downer though that’s Scandinavia for you.
Superior double rooms start from £275 in low season, £390 in high season; grandhotel.se