A serene retreat in the heart of Stockholm with modern Scandinavian style, the recently-opened Hotel Skeppsholmen makes a welcome addition to the more glitzy and bustling options in the area. Its tiny island location lends the 81-room spot its name, along with views of the water, a park-like setting, neighboring museums, and just enough distance from the city center to feel calm but not isolated. Combined with spare decor, warm service, and plenty of little luxuries where they count, the boutique hotel throws off a casually elegant vibe as appealing to business travelers as it is to those visiting purely for fun.
In lieu of a grand lobby (it's housed in former Marine barracks built in 1699), a spacious room offers a lounge area on one end and airy café-style seating on the other (pictured above right), with windows looking out over trees and the occasional passing boat. Breakfast there—a delicious take on the smorgasbord with treats like blueberry-cardamom granola, traditional Swedish buns, and heartier fare—has charming touches like linen napkins, is included in the room rate, and not to be missed.
Rooms themselves feature the clean lines of contemporary Scandinavian design in a palette of marine blues, grays and whites that designers Claesson Koivisto Rune call "Fog"—complimenting the setting and adding to the peaceful tone. While some of the more "high design" fixtures presented minor functional issues, most of the furnishing choices marry tasteful minimalism (starting with the gorgeously restored antique floors) with playful surprises like a bright yellow splash of a side table. And, though Skeppsholmen may lack the wall-to-wall opulence that some look for in a hotel, comforts like quality linens and toiletries by the popular Swedish brand Byredo, left me wanting for nothing.
Lighting in particular, like the rubbery texture of what I call the Spy v. Spy lamp (pictured below left), stands out for how it subtly and thoughtfully delights guests. Hallway light installations (below right), one night turned the mundane trek back to our rooms into a giggly impromptu photo shoot. The building's layout (Swedes call it the "Long Row") does mean that the short walk from reception sometimes psychologically feels like more of a trek than it is, but also lends to the off-the-beaten path feel.
With amenities that include a small gym, alternate dining rooms, meeting rooms, free WiFi, flat screen TVs with DVD players, minibars, and a variety of services—from Concierge to laundry—graciously fulfilled by the efficiently attentive staff, Skeppsholmen represents welcome new version of Scandinavian hospitality. Rack rates hover around $1,314 SEK (about $185). Book through Skeppsholmen.