Greetings from Sweden! I'm traveling in Stockholm to cover the 2012 Furniture and Light Fair and my home away from home for the next few days is the Grand Central, the flagship of Swedish super hotel brand Scandic that opened in November of 2011. Housed in a building that dates from 1885, the hotel is designed by Koncept Stockholm and is mix of Ace Hotel swank, with a touch of 19th century Viennese luxury, and, of course, Scandinavian chic. The designers call it "a love affair between the grand Vienna-style city palace and street life of Stockholm." It's located just a couple blocks down from the T-Centralen station (the transit hub of Stockholm), which is ultra convenient for travelers relying on trains. For those who don't mind hoofing it—and in a city as scenic and comfortably scaled as Stockholm, my preferred route of travel even in the current -5° Celsius weather—the hotel is within walking distance of Gamla Stan (the historic old town) and Östermalm (where design district is located). It's also three metro stops from Södermalm (the section filled with great boutiques, cafes, and fashionable twenty-somethings). Let's have a look inside the hotel.
The bar is located on the ground floor and has a steady rotation of DJs and live bands to entertain guests. It's also open to the public.
The hotel is in a building that dates from 1885. Here's the lobby, which is outfitted with comfortable couches and Eames/Saarinen Organic chairs (you can make out a couple of the chartreuse and grey beauts in the background).
Another section of the lobby with the aforementioned Organic chairs more prominently shown.
The interiors are by local firm Koncept. While the lobby is a mix of rich colors and textures, the corridors are monochromatic with quotes emblazoned on the walls. The patterns on the carpet are inspired by Stockholm's manhole covers.
Here's one of the hotel's 391 rooms, a junior suite. In terms of amenities, there's a complimentary breakfast, free WiFi, hair dryers, television, toiletries, and safe for all rooms. Rooms range from a 1182 SEK Cabin ($175) to a 3222 SEK ($482) Master Suite. Be forewarned: though the lower price of cabin rooms is tempting, they do not have windows.
Here's another suite in the hotel, which is similar to the one in which I'm staying. My junior suite is a corner room located on the fifth floor overlooking the neoclassical rooftops of the Norrmalm district, and the bustling intersection of Kungsgatan and Vasagatan. It's kitted out with high ceilings, loads of natural daylight, desk, flat-screen T.V., sofa, and...
...a record player! The music selection in my room was eclectic: Elton John, Toto, Ola Magnell, Madonna, and a handful of others; unfortunately (or fortunately?) there was no Abba. I wonder if those records were reserved for the ultra swanky rooms?
Speaking of swanky, here's another view of one of the suites, showing the living room.
The bathrooms are crisp and uncluttered with toiletries by Face Stockholm. Scandic (like Sweden in general) has a strong environmental commitment. The bathrooms have dual-flush toilets (pretty standard in Europe), larger pump bottles rather than single-use throwaways for shampoo and soap, and a sign that says "80 percent of guests reuse towels." Nothing like the bandwagon effect to motivate people to be more conscious of the resources they use! On a related note, you have to insert your key card into a socket to turn on your room's lights. Not only does it ensure that the lights will be off when you depart, your card will always be right next to the door—great for those (such as myself) who frequently misplace small things.
Here's the restaurant downstairs, Teaterbrasseriet. It serves traditional Swedish fare with ingredients sourced locally. I've not had the chance to dine there yet, but the menu looks delicious. Expect to pay about 115 SEK ($17) for first courses and 250 SEK ($38) for mains.
Here's the coffee bar. A cappuccino and super delicious chocolate/apricot/sesame shortbread cookie will set you back 45 SEK, or about $6.75. Even if you don't end up staying at the hotel while you're in Stockholm, definitely stop in for a coffee and marvel in the cafe's design.