The Grand Hotel sits in gleaming splendour 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 as the Swedes and take the fast and easy Arlanda Express train, then it’s a two-minute metro ride or five-minute taxi ride if you’re deluged 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 done in three hours. Once you’re ready to explore, a bevy of sightseeing boats bob around just outside the hotel’s doors, waiting to whisk you along the city’s canals and to the sights.
Trams, buses and the metro are all within a three-minute stroll away for easy journeys around Stockholm. Most of the city’s best museums and attractions - like Djurgården island, which is perfect for families with its Skansen open air museum, Gröna Lund theme park and amazing Vasa ship museum and Abba museum — are within pleasant walking distance.
The very friendly lobby belies the hotel’s large size — there are some 270 rooms — as mingling tourists chat and the team of low-key but very knowledgeable concierges help plan your day.
As grand as its 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 — gold accented lobby and stairwells, bright red awnings on harbour-view balconies — and absolute comfort. Modern, beautiful flower arrangements are dotted around rather than ostentatious displays, and bedrooms are decorated in muted Scandi tones.
Most of the bedrooms are cosy rather than enormous, as you’d expect from a hotel so central; they are dominated by a bed that you won’t want to leave: firm mattress turned into a cloud by sheets that had us hunting for a label to see if we could find it in one of the many Scandi homeware shops.
Opt for a Superior Water View Room in the summer months and you’ll be able to perch on a wrought iron mini terrace and gaze at the glistening water and waking-up city each month — it’s a very special view. In-room binoculars help you almost peep inside the Royal Palace opposite as well as explore Strömkajen harbour from above.
Room decor involves lots of relaxing duck egg, cream and greige, with chairs to curl up into and plan a Stockholm adventure. There are high ceilings and the bathrooms host a vast, black and marble bath, perfect for soaking away the effects of a day of 20,000 sightseeing steps out of a tired body. Millennial pink-and-grey curtains block out the buzz of the city at night-time.
Food & drink
Breakfast in The Veranda isn’t the standard international fare on offer at some hotels: you know you’re in Sweden as you tuck into vinegary cucumber salad, ginger biscuits, fresh berries, smoked salmon, knäckebröd crisp bread and cured meats. This is on top of the usual eggs, fresh juices and smoothies, yoghurt (Turkish not Greek), cereals and breads. Kids will be thrilled with the pancakes and hot chocolate with whipped cream and marshmallows. And I gobbled handfuls of the most delicious homemade raspberry biscuits as if they were a perfectly respectable way to start the day.
Famous Swedish chef Mathias Dahlgren has two restaurants in the hotel; local landmark Matbaren (think raw marinated perch and steamed chicken buns) and vegetarian restaurant Rutabaga (truffled green “foie gras” with wheat croutons, and Jasmine rice in salad leaves with deep fried onion, ginger, nashi pear and wasabi are key dishes).
The Nordic bathing experience in the spa is unmissable: multiple pine-scented saunas, ice-cold pool, central, fire-ringed swimming pool, endless steam rooms; add in the huge body brushes and your skin will never feel better. There’s a well-equipped gym, plus outdoor jogging routes.
Tourists, families and execs mingle and actually chat in the lobby — it’s unusually friendly — and the doormen have an electric tuk-tuk for local trips if you’d like, plus offer free drinks and bananas at the door to help kick off a day’s sightseeing.
Our three packed days in Stockholm included visiting some of the best children’s museums we’ve found in the world, Astrid Lindgren’s Junibacken and the vast Skansen, as well as the Tekniska museet (Science & technology museum) and the small but perfect for emergency-services-obsessed kids Polis (Police) Museum. The Vasa museum of a recovered four-hundred-year-old shipwreck is unique and brilliantly done, whilst Sweden’s food scene is incredible and during the summer months there are green squares and parks to play in along almost every route around the city.
Families looking for a luxury school holiday city break will love the food, friendly service and location of The Grand. Couples wanting to walk the city all day and lol in the spa of an evening before hitting the town will have a ball — it’s hard to think of anyone who wouldn’t love this hotel, only its final bills are a bit of a downer, but that’s Scandinavia for you.
Superior double rooms start from £275 in low season, £390 in high season; grandhotel.se