1. Mälardrottningen Hotel
Stockholm is a city on the water and nowhere is this more apparent than at Mälardrottningen hotel. The hotel is on a boat anchored in Lake Mälaren, on the edge of the city’s Gamla Stan (Old Town).
When the boat was built in 1924, it was the world’s largest motor yacht. Now, it has 61 cabins, each of which has a land or sea view. They’re decorated with hardwood and brass utensils in the original nautical style, with the majority of the rooms featuring traditional bunk beds. Each has its own bathroom, TV, Wi-Fi, radio and telephone. And, again in true Swedish style, a sauna is at guests’ disposal.
The boat has its own restaurant, with a view overlooking Lake Mälaren. As the hotel is fond of stating, it offers “one of the most spectacular views in Stockholm.” And, when enjoying a drink on the boat’s Deck Lounge bar while the sun sets over the city, you’d be hard-pressed to disagree.
Guests have the option of staying in the Captain's Cabin at Mälardrottningen. Photo: Mälardrottningen Hotel
2. Frey’s Hotel Lilla Rådmannen
A hotel with an eco ethos, Frey’s Lilla Rådmannen has 'Green Key' certification as an environmentally-friendly site. This manifests itself in ways not immediately visible – more than 60 percent of lighting is from energy-saving lamps, toiletries are recyclable and environmentally certified, as are cleaning products and the laundry detergent used to wash bed linen.
Each of the hotel’s 62 rooms is individually decorated, to give a homely feel – one room features butterfly wallpaper and a piece of rose print artwork on the wall, another has a more Scottish tone, with tartan-esque walls and navy blue throws on both twin beds. The detail in each room highlights the personalised experience the hotel wishes its guests to have.
Being just a short walk away from Stockholm’s Central Station, the hotel is easy to access – and, once you’ve arrived, it’s tempting to stay put, with a restaurant (breakfast included), bar, and rooftop terrace providing a warm welcome.
3. Elite Palace Hotel
Located downtown in Vasastan, this 4-star hotel doesn’t feel like a typical ‘budget’ option – yet, Standard rooms are bookable from 632 SEK a night.
Tastefully designed, this hotel offers many built-in options included for guests – from discounts on the site’s spa and gym to a complimentary breakfast served daily. Bikes are available to borrow from the reception – handy in a cycle-first society like Stockholm – and for running fans, the hotel has identified three local routes of varying length, from 3km to 10km, to guide your run.
If you want to bring a four-legged guest, there are a number of dog-friendly rooms available to book. And, despite being situated in central Stockholm, the hotel finds inspiration from further afield. The hotel’s British-style pub, the Bishop’s Arms, has one of Stockholm’s widest selections of beer and whiskeys, often holding tasting sessions for guests and locals.
There’s a sauna, too; as – British pubs aside – this is still Sweden, after all.
4. Motel L Hammarby
Based on the edge of the waterfront in the south-east of the city in Hammarby Sjöstad, this 3-star chain describes itself as delivering “Design hotels at a budget price.”
The owners have drafted in some well-known – and locally-sourced – names to help them – from Swedish bed-maker Carpe Diem, the brain behind the beds, to designer Lisa Bengtsson, who created the modern and colourful (orange and pink-dominated) interiors.
Rainfall showers are installed in each bathroom, and space-maximising family rooms are bookable, with enough space for two adults and two children – in the form of one double bed and one removable bunk bed.
And there are more savings to be made – a complimentary breakfast is on offer if you book through the hotel’s website direct and guests have access to the site’s free gym. Not included, but right next door, is the hotel’s own restaurant and bar, Pipes, serving three course dinners and a wide selection of beers and spirits.
The hotel’s location gives you the possibility of taking the free boat ride over to creative and artsy Södermalm island. For adrenaline junkies in search of thrills, the ferry M/S Emelie will take you over to Djurgården where – among other attractions – you can find the city’s theme park, Gröna Lund.
5. Birger Jarl Hotel
If hotels on water are your thing, then Birger Jarl may well float your boat. This hotel/hostel/restaurant amalgam can be found off the water of Slussen, in central Stockholm.
Its 192 cabins offer guests a variety of options, from sharing bunks with strangers (in its guise as a hostel) or in the Captain’s Cabin, with one double bed in the room, if a more private experience is desired.
There are several venue areas on the boat; between May and September, guests are often treated to live music on the boat’s Sky Bar and a Piano Bar is open year-round. The two on-site restaurants provide dining options, should you not wish to travel too far afield for a meal.
With the boat anchored just 10 minutes away from Gamla stan, it’s well-positioned to serve as a base from which you can explore further afield in Stockholm.
6. Story Hotel
This boutique hotel sits in the swish Östermalm district in downtown Stockholm, surrounded by designer shops and restaurants.
While the hotel does offer larger alternatives, lots of the better value bedrooms economise on space – from the ‘Super Squeeze’, to the ‘Friggebod’ (essentially ‘shed’ in Swedish). But don’t be fooled by the close living quarters – this hotel is designed for style as much as space.
Rooms feature 48 inch TVs which allow you to stream your own content direct to the screen, as well as mini-fridges which are filled with complimentary Vitamin water and bathrooms designed by Swedish designer brand L:A BRUKET, featuring FACE Stockholm products.
The hotel is centred around socialising – it features a bar, lounge, restaurant and courtyard space, all of which are made to feel inviting with pleasingly low lighting and a dark colour scheme.
With Story Hotel, the old saying is true: good things do come in small packages.
7. Hotel Tre Små Rum
Literally 'Three Small Rooms hotel' in Swedish, what you see is what you get – only, now the site has seven bedrooms on offer. It's in trendy Södermalm, just steps away from Mariatorget Metro Station and there are bikes available to rent from the hotel, if you wish to venture further afield.
The decor is simple but sufficient – expect a stay that's relaxed rather than ritzy, with hand-selected artwork in the rooms and a homely vibe.
Included in your stay are organic breakfasts, served every morning to fuel you for a day spent exploring the island and beyond.
8. Långholmen Hotel
In this prison-turned-hotel, guests are invited to stay in renovated ‘cells’, all equipped with TVs, showers and toilets. The former detention centre opened as a hotel in 1989, and over the past 30 years has delighted guests with its “Captivating charm” (the hotel’s own words).
Set in Långholmen, an island just off hipster Södermalm, the venue is multi-faceted – as well as serving as a hotel/hostel combo, it’s also a restaurant, a museum hosting tours on the prison’s history, a theatre, a gallery and a conference centre.
It's obvious that the building was once a prison, from the original metal doors to barred windows; the hotel even gives guests the option of booking a “Romantic Cell” as their bedroom. What could be more romantic than locking your loved one up in a room with you for a full weekend?
If the entertainment all gets a bit much, you’ve got the key to your own cell and are free to seek amusement outside of the prison’s four walls. There’s a sandy beach (Långholmsbadet) a short walk away, as well as one of Stockholm’s oldest shipyards (Mälarvarvet) on your doorstep, for when outdoor pursuits appeal.
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