Cool design meets old-style grandeur in Stockholm

This hotel set in two converted townhouses is proving a winner with guests, says Sarah Barrell

Stockholm is experiencing a hotel boom which will see 1,000 new rooms opening in the city this year. The quirky Lydmar hotel was quick to grab headlines with its Philippe Starck-style aesthetic and sceney bar. Then there's the low-price, high-style Story Hotel. But of the new tourist addresses opening in the Swedish capital in the past year or so, the Stureplan, oddly, has had little media buzz.

It is set in two converted 19th-century townhouses, and gets the top vote from the travel website Trip Advisor. Hotel Stureplan features in its Top 25 European Destinations for this year, as voted for by guests.

Thanks to a higgledy-piggledy layout that comes from converting two adjoining buildings, you get little sense of the hotel's size or aesthetic on arrival. Reception is hidden away in a little nook and a beautiful cage elevator takes centre stage.

The restaurant and decked terrace are at the back of the building. And unless you are an ardent explorer, you'll likely never stumble upon the hot pink library and rich turquoise living room, or meeting rooms that are so lavish (chandeliers, duck-egg-blue walls, and a huge old porcelain Swedish oven that looks more like a Louis XIV dresser) that to do a Powerpoint presentation in them would seem like an insult. But depending on the grandeur of your room (they are all wildly different – some very grand indeed), perhaps this doesn't matter. In my case, somewhere to relax outside the box-like room I'd been allotted would have been a bonus. Sadly, I didn't find the sitting room until the day I checked out.

The rooms

The 101 rooms come in myriad styles, shapes and sizes. On the lower-ground floor, rooms without windows are intended for overnight business guests, decked out, subtly, like ship's cabins. Loft rooms, by contrast, are airy, with huge skylights, but also compact and business-like. The largest number of rooms ("classic") are spacious and richer in decor, with velvet curtains, hand-woven Swedish rugs and well-placed Scandinavian antiques. A two-woman Swedish team, Garbo Interior, designs it all. Chandeliers, gilt mirrors and carved wooden beds are made locally, and the sofas and chaise longues were found in the antique-stuffed region of Darlana, in central Sweden.

My room, innocuous in design, had barely enough room to accommodate the bed. So if you want herringbone wood floors, a plush chaise or a balcony, ask for them and prepare to pay a bit more.

The food and drink

Per Lei, the hotel's bar and modern Italian restaurant, is clothed in velvet and rich, dark fabrics that could be a bit much to stomach at breakfast. But breakfast is the meal of the day here. Several types of pickled and marinated herring, dark rye crackers and breads, dense meatballs and thick natural yoghurt made decadent with a spoon of cloudberry jus. The bar isn't as buzzy as many in the area but it does specialise in Bollinger, including the Ayala Zero Dosage, the much-vaunted low-sugar champagne.

The extras

There's no gym but the hotel does have reduced rates at the nearby Sturebadet Spa. There's no boutique either but you are right in the heart of the area from which the hotel takes its name, a glitzy district populated by swanky Scandinavian design shops, pricey contemporary clothing stores and starry restaurants such as East – said to have single-handedly revolutionised and globalised Stockholm's formerly traditional dining scene back in the late 1980s.

The access

One room has been fully adapted for (non-motorised) wheelchair access.

The bill

Sarah Barrell travelled as a guest of SAS (0906 294 2772; flysas.co.uk), which offers return fares from London Heathrow to Stockholm from £134, and from Manchester from £136. She stayed at Hotel Stureplan (hotel stureplan.se), which offers B&B in a double room from Skr1,325 (£120) per night. For more information about the city, contact Visit Sweden on (visitsweden.com/citybreaks).

The address

Hotel Stureplan, Birger Jarlsgatan 24, Box 559 55, 102 16 Stockholm, Sweden (00 46 8 440 66 00; hotelstureplan.se).

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